Trunk Music by Michael Connelly

by on September 18th, 2012
Trunk Music by Michael Connelly Cover Image

After a long, busy work day, there’s nothing like a hard-boiled mystery to get away from it all. Although getting e-books online from ICPL brings the opportunity to read a whole series, a downside is that I tend to check out books in a somewhat random order. For Harry Bosch – a guy who has a lot of life change going on in this 18-book series – things become interesting. In one book, he’s a homicide cop, in the next he’s a PI, and then he’s back again with the cops. He has a wife/lover/girlfriend – or nobody at all. He has a daughter, he doesn’t have a daughter, and then she’s born one more time…you get the drift. It’s a chance for time travel and as I read this fifth book in the series (from 1997) I wanted to warn Harry about what’s in store for his future. Ahh, all the things he doesn’t know!

In any case, Trunk Music once again brings us the crusading cop-hero and loner who bases his whole life on the premise that the end justifies the means. Regularly, he’s willing to bend the boundaries – even at the risk of his own career – to catch the crook. This time, the story opens with sleazy filmmaker and mob money launderer Tony Aliso being discovered in the trunk of his Rolls on a secluded fire road above the Hollywood Bowl. Harry and his crew are quickly dispatched to the scene where a symphony concert is going on nearby – he needs to get Aliso’s body off to an autopsy without being seen by the concert’s audience. And then he can start solving the whodunnit.

Like others in the series, the opening details of Trunk Music appeared slowly and methodically, but by about 60% of the way into the book (according to my Kindle Reader app), things started to fit together, the pace quickened and it became tough to put the volume down. Throughout, Harry dashes back and forth from his Hollywood home base to Las Vegas several times gathering pieces of the puzzle, and like other books in the series, Vegas haunts him in a myriad of ways. There, he encounters several seamy characters, including a snarly patrol cop, a strip-club manager, some mobsters and the on-again-off-again love of his life, Eleanor Wish, who went from being an FBI agent to an incarcerated felon to a small-time career gambler. Back home in L.A., Harry’s life centers mostly on the cops he partners with, the cop-bosses who put up with him, and the widow who appears more puzzled than grieving. In between all the commotion, Harry clears his head in a home hanging off a hillside up a canyon.

Once again, author Michael Connelly was masterful at sprinkling clues throughout the story in a stealthy way so that they initially blended in, yet seemed so obvious when they were put together later in the story. Likewise, he kept me guessing about when the book was going to end – just when I thought it was done, another twist surfaced to egg the plot on. And rest assured, Trunk Music closes with some happy endings and a bit of irony.

P.S. I finished Trunk Music on my iPad on an Iowa City bus while heading into work on campus. In a moment of conventional thinking, I then launched my Overdrive app and downloaded Connelly’s next book in the series, Angels Flight…ready to read on the way home.

Guest Blogger Daniel Berkowitz is an associate dean in the University of Iowa Graduate College, a professor in the School of Journalism and Mass Communication, and the interim director of the UI School of Library and Information Science.

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