A New Bosch Book

The Parsons branch of the Columbus Public Library system prominently displays “new arrivals” on a rack facing the door, presumably thinking that people coming in might pick up a volume on impulse.  Yesterday, when Kish and I stopped by for some browsing, I was delighted to see a new Harry Bosch book had come out, called The Crossing by Michael Connelly.  I greedily snatched it off the shelf before somebody else beat me to it.

IMG_0763Years ago, the Philosopher King of the Fifth Floor recommended the Bosch books to me.  They’re a series — I’m not sure how many there are now — that follow the career and exploits of Hieronymus (“Harry”) Bosch, a long-time police detective with the Los Angeles Police Department.  I started with the first in the series and was immediately hooked, and ever since I’ve happily followed the jazz-loving, uncompromising Harry through multiple partners, tragic deaths, love affairs, family dramas, political intrigue in the LAPD, and countless other back stories as he searches for clues and carefully solves grisly murders.  It’s been a terrific series.

I like the plotting in the books, I like the characters, and I like the way the books always provide some interesting insight to how police detectives work and police departments operate.  But more than anything else I really like the prose.  Connelly writes in short, declarative sentences — a very Hemingwayesque style — and I always enjoy the way he describes what Bosch is doing.  Too often, modern fiction is so focused on trying to plumb new depths in depressing modern relationships that the authors fail to give any kind of physical description of the setting, the characters, and their actions.  Connelly, on the other hand, always provides a rich account of what the characters are doing and how things look.  It’s wonderful to read his depiction, for example, of how Harry Bosch opens an envelope, organizes the papers inside, and then lays out the photos of a crime scene.

So excuse me, for now.  It’s a beautiful, sunny spring day, I’ve changed into my shorts, and I’m going to go outside and dive into the world of Harry Bosch.  I feel like a kid with a full Easter basket.

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Traveling As A Message

In the aftermath of the Brussels terrorist bombings, some of our friends have decided to cancel planned trips to Europe.

Obviously, that’s not an unreasonable decision.  They’ve confirmed that Americans were among those killed in the Belgium attacks, and police raids that have occurred following  the attacks are indicating the existence of a large terrorist network in western Europe.

Stitched PanoramaCombine those facts with the overall perception that Europe is struggling to deal with the latest flood of immigrants from the Middle East and didn’t effectively screen the incoming refugees, that Muslims in Europe are not integrated into European society, and that the European police forces haven’t done a very good job of identifying and tracking terrorists, and it’s not surprising that people are deciding that now is not the time to venture across the Atlantic.  And when you read that European police efforts are handicapped by laws that seem motivated more by political correctness than by an honest effort to promote security — like the Belgian law that prevents police raids between 9 p.m. and 5 a.m. — you could easily conclude that if the Europeans aren’t interested in effectively dealing with terrorism, why should I take the risk?

Kish and I are in the opposite camp.  She’s a rationalist who notes that, even with the recent attacks, you’re still statistically more likely to die from a bathtub fall or a traffic accident on the way to the grocery store than a terrorist bomb, and I’m a fatalist who believes that your number could called anywhere, anytime, so why not see the world a bit before your time is up.  Plus, I don’t want the terrorists to think they’ve won and achieved the broad societal terror that is their primary goal.  If no one from America travels to Europe, ISIS, al Qaeda, and their terrorist brethren will chalk one up in the win column.

We weren’t planning a visit to Europe because we’ve had several wonderful trips there and we were interested in going to some place in the southern hemisphere, because we’ve never been there and, as a bucket list item, I would one day like to see the constellations in the southern sky.  Now I’m thinking that maybe we should consider putting a trip to the Old Continent on the calendar, as a way of telling the terrorists to stick it.