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The Very Best of Mr. Michael Connelly - Part I

I was about 50 pages into the latest Michael Connelly book, THE SCARECROW, when I flipped to the front. This is the 20th novel. I decided that rather than write a review of the novel, pretty good by the way, I would write a think piece about the relationship between a highly regarded crime novelist and how reader's take for granted the author if the high standard to which they have become accustomed to is not maintained over a lengthy run of books.

This idea was quickly abandoned out of laziness. Instead, I decided to take a cue from my friend, Peter, who recently ranked all of the James Bond films. I didn't feel I could tackle all 20 novels so the list below is just the non-Harry Bosch books. Mr. Connelly's next book 9 DRAGONS releases in October so don't be surprised to see a Bosch only list then.

I wrote this list up a couple weeks ago. I have given it some time to marinate. I did make any changes but I do want to say that there is a definite break between ranking 5 and 4. The top 4 really are fantastic works and would recommend them without reservation.

7. VOID MOON - 2000
Cassie Black has popped up once or twice since; It usually stops the narrative cold. This was the first Connelly book I really did not connect with. I had high expectations primarily because I think the previous book, ANGELS FLIGHT, was stellar. One thing that VOID MOON does have going for it is an amazing dust jacket.

I can't remember this book at all! The premise is intriguing; risking your life for women you never met, but past that I got nothing. This is a common issue I have with many of Mr. Connelly's book's from 2000-2005. I have no doubt that they were expertly written, but their staying power diminished rather quickly.

The problem with Mickey Haller is that he is a bit of douche, and it is kind of hard to root for a guy like that. Lawyers are what pulled me into Crime Fiction (Thank you, Mr Grisham), but it is their pompous egotism that wears out their welcome very quickly.

Mr. Connelly's latest resurrects one of my favorite characters. Jack MacEvoy. Not as good as THE POET, but still wonderfully exciting stuff. If the book has a problem it is that I think it is a bit flabby. One too many conversations between Jack and FBI Agent Rachel Walling. A leaner meaner story might have serviced this book better. That being said I think we are in the second golden age of Mr. Connelly's writing. Tremendous stuff.

The second Haller book shares time with Bosch, but this is Haller's book all the way. Haller is definitely a more palatable character this time around. Certainly it is easier to root for a guy looking up at rock bottom than a jackass who treats everyone with disdain. Maybe it was low-ish expectations for this book, but I found the whole thing to be engrossing. Solid from beginning to end

2. BLOOD WORK - 1998
Great book, terrible movie. This may have the best villain of any of the Connelly books. The whole thing was chilling. Once the reveal is made previous sections of the book become even more shocking. I even recall re-reading certain parts just to spook myself. BLOOD WORK is definitely among the 5 best books in Mr. Connelly's cannon.

1. THE POET - 1996
The first and best standalone. I always liked Jack McEvoy as I have a soft spot for the Journalist crime fighter. THE POET covers a lot of ground, and really has the feel of an epic. It also the best Michael Connelly book to put you into the specific world of these characters. It is particularly good in delving into the world of the killer. Only Thomas Harris explores the minutia of the killer's world better than Mr. Connelly. There is only one other book that I like more from Mr. Connelly, but you'll hear about it in a couple months.


mahboob said…
Nice review. It will help me in picking up the next Connelly novel. I just finished reading 9 Dragons. I think in the novel just too much was revealed from a still picture which is a bit hard to digest but never the less a good read.
Joe said…
I have read Nine Dragons and the Concrete Blond, and they are both excellent books. I find it hard to believe that Blond didn't make your list, it is really good. Either way, I think I am going to check out the Poet and Scarecrow next.
Joe said…
I just realized this was a non-Bosch list. I look forward to seeing your Bosch list!

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