Saturday, August 1, 2009

Harry Bosch Expounds Upon Ezra Pound's Poetry

I have just finished the ninth Harry Bosch novel from mystery writer Michael Connelly. Called Lost Light, the title ultimately refers to a Bosch-ism from an earlier novel. In it (I've forgotten which title at the moment), Harry explains that in Vietnam, they called phantom lights seen deep in the tunnels "lost light" because their source was unknown. Perhaps they were traces of light leaking in from above, maybe they were the souls of men who had lived and died in those tunnels. Regardless of its origin, lost light is a reprieve from the darkness that exists in the black maze of tunnels, however spooky it may also be to the seer.

In the novel Lost Light, Connelly does not return to the subject of Vietnam, but instead to the ghosts that haunt Harry Bosch. As the epitome of a tortured soul, Harry has plenty of so-called ghosts hovering around him. In this book he begins researching a cold case from the stack of unsolved murder books he took with him when he left the Hollywood division of the LAPD. Jobless and drawing only his pension (which Connelly tells readers is "more than he needs"), Harry seems much more tormented by the free time he has now than by his lack of active salary. So he begins to fill that time by reworking the cases which still weigh heavily on his mind.

Bosch soon discovers that the so-called cold case he is re-investigating sans police badge is actually a current case for one government body -- the FBI. More particularly the anti-terrorism unit. As you might imagine, this causes immediate issues for Harry and those helping him on the case -- most notably return character Special Agent Roy Lindell, retired LAPD cop Lawson who was injured in the line of duty, and Harry's ex-wife and former Special Agent Eleanor Wish.

Wisdom does come with old age, and Bosch proves this as he handles himself and the case with finesse. However, his personal life is never something he can get a handle on. His rocky on-again-off-again relationship with Eleanor comes into play in this novel, with a surprise twist at the end. Connelly both opens and closes the novel with a line from an Ezra Pound poem that Harry remembers from his marriage to Eleanor: "There is no end of things in the heart." Connelly proves this in more ways than one in Lost Light and shows readers once again that Harry Bosch is hard-boiled but not hard-hearted.

As a pre-quel to this novel and a sequel to the eighth novel City of Bones, enjoy a fictional interview between Michael Connelly and Harry Bosch by clicking here.

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