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The Overlook - Michael Connelly

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Author: Michael Connelly / Genre: Crime / Thriller

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    2 Reviews
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      19.03.2011 09:15
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      Below par Bosch effort from Connelly, but still worth a read

      When an author has a continuing characters through his or her books, I feel as if I should read them in order, so as to get a true feeling for the characters, their past history and any developments through plot. Michael Connelly's LA detective Harry Bosch goes through so many changes, both in his personal and professional life, that any past experiences with him tend to be rather superficial and almost irrelevant to the ensuing texts. This isn't a criticism of Connelly's writing, more a note to say that if you haven't read any of his novels before, The Overlook is one that you could definitely read without any prior Bosch knowledge.

      Harry Bosch has flitted around various jobs and levels of seniority throughout the dozen or so previous novels he features in. A former tunnel rat in Vietnam, he is a hardened, gruff, no holds barred investigator, which ruffles a lot of feathers. He's one of those respected colleagues that you keep far enough away from so as to not get into trouble through association - a crime writer's lease to go off the traditional route.

      Here, Harry is now working for Homicide, and gets the call out when a body is found at the overlook by Mulholland Drive, hence the book's title. Further investigation, along with his latest partner, Ignacio Ferras (or Iggy, as he keeps trying to get Bosch to call him), uncovers a kidnapping and blackmail base to the operation, also involving a serious quantity of dangerous chemicals, which leads to the FBI and a whole range of radiation wizardry brought in to the mix. Enter Bosch's former lover, the FBI's Rachel Walling, and a whole heap of tension from Connelly, as the FBI try to make it about a threat to national security, while Bosch stands firm in holding on to what he still sees as a homicide case.

      What I like about Connelly's writing is that it flows very easily. It's not glossed over quite as quickly as a James Patterson book can be, but it certainly results in smooth and quick reading. I found I devoured this in a couple of days. That having been said, the tale was never intended to be a full novel, merely a novella, and the length shows this, being well under 300 pages long, and the type not taking up anywhere near the same amount of room on the pages as some of Connelly's other works that generally reach the 400 page mark. This results in less room to work in, and some plot complications and twists that are not as obvious as they may otherwise be.

      The characters don't get much depth to them here, and Bosch in particular seems to be the main catalyst for any plot developments, whether they be progressive or inexplicable. Connelly definitely uses him as a sort of natural plot builder, giving him powers of observation that defy most people and even the character himself in previous books. He just seems to operate on his 'hunches' and is not fooled by any diversions or false leads throughout the book, taking him on a seemingly different direction to everyone else. There's no explanation for it - it's just his hunches.

      This does make it a bit less believable than his other books, and kind of takes away some of the balance of the sort of Michael Connelly reading experiences I have had before. I appreciate that this is only a novella, and the sort of depth I'm used to from him has no place here with the space restrictions he has imposed on himself. However, it almost reverts to a change of character and doesn't hold the believability I feel he has in his other work. There are twists, for sure, and the main twists is one I hadn't seen coming, and it'/s not doom and gloom, but having experience some really clever and deep plots with thoughtful characterisation being a strong feature with previous Bosch books, my expectations were that much higher than the book delivered.

      The Overlook flows, and drags you in and is certainly something I'd recommend reading, but Connelly doesn't afford it the depth of his longer works, and as a result it doesn't quite match up to their levels. My disappointment was masked by a fast pace as I was reading, but I was left feeling like I wanted more. Recommended, but be warned if you're looking for something as deep and well constructed as his previous stuff.

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        18.10.2009 14:52
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        Worth a read as it's well written, but it's not one of his best

        I've read a couple of Michael Connelly books and was eager to go back for some more. I picked up The Overlook from the library and, as always, the blurb sounded good - an intelligent crime novel by one of the top crime writers.

        On the front of the book is a quote from the Independent On Sunday, claiming 'Connelly is a crime-writing genius'. I would agree with this, even having only read a few of his novels. As per the text which features on the back of all his books, it's '100% Connelly 100% Addictive'. Unfortunately, I didn't think that this book was as good as I had expected, but it was still a good read.

        The Overlook is part of the Harry Bosch series, and comes after his Echo Park novel. You don't need to have read the previous book, or any of his work, to enjoy this one, but it would definitely help to have some background on the characters and relationships.

        This book falls within the crime genre and the first thing we're thrown into is the murder of a physicist in LA, whose body was found on the Mulholland overlook. It appears the dead man was able to get his hands on Caesium because of his job, and it's not long before it seems he was blackmailed into handing over this highly dangerous chemical to highly dangerous criminals.

        Bosch takes up the lead with his new partner, Ignacio Ferras, but soon finds there's more than what meets the eye to this case. The possibility of a terrorist plot is on the cards, and the difficult relationship between the LAPD, of which Bosch is part of, and the FBI becomes clear.

        Those who have already read a Bosch novel will probably recognise Rachel Walling, a woman whom Bosch has worked with in the past. She plays a key role in this book as the plot thickens and the fear of an imminent terrorist attack heightens.

        The book continues in the style of cat and mouse, with Bosch and the various other detectives involved, chasing leads and being strung along. Misleading clues lead all, except Bosch, in the wrong direction. What seemed like a somewhat straightforward case becomes something else entirely, and the twist is something unexpected.

        Connelly employs his brilliant writing expertise throughout this novel, vividly bringing alive each character and scene. The detail and style of writing is excellent, making it an enjoyable and easy read. I say easy read, but the plot becomes quite complex with the web of various characters and so thought is required when you read it. That said, Connelly keeps us up-to-date and recaps the key points so we don't get lost as the plot develops.

        I love the glimpse we get into the American way of life from Connelly's books, especially here with the relationships between the LAPD and FBI explored. Scenes, roads and situations are detailed enough for us to be able to form clear images of what's going on.

        Although each event and detail fits together bit by bit like a jigsaw, I didn't think this novel was as strong as some of his previous works. That may be because of the somewhat unfinished ending, though the answers regarding the main plot itself are answered. Perhaps it's the speed at which the novel goes, which is rather fast as it covers a lot of ground is less than 24 hours.

        The Mirror quotes on the back 'Another classic by the best crime writer in America today' - Although I don't think this has been one of Connelly's best novels, it's still worth a read. It's engaging, detailed and strangely addictive. It didn't take me long, probably 3 days, to read from start to finish, left wanting to read more because of the attachment formed with the lead characters, especially Bosch.

        252 pages 2008 RRP £6.99 £5.49 Play.com

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