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The Scarecrow - Michael Connelly
Member Name: cazkins
The Scarecrow - Michael Connelly
Advantages: Wonderfully written, easy to read & get absorbed into, depth of characters, interesting plot
Disadvantages: A little different to his usual style (not necessarily a 'bad' thing ! )
I've read and reviewed a few Connelly novels now and would consider myself a fan. I was really looking forward to reading this, despite it not featuring Connelly's much-loved protagonist Harry Bosch. It differed to his usual style but I still enjoyed it from start to finish.
The cover reads : 'His last assignment could be a killer', and there's also some praise from the Daily Mirror : 'The greatest living American crime writer...once again Connelly is utterly gripping'. In addition, we're told that this is by the Bestselling author of the Poet, all things which draw you in to want to read it, regardless of whether you've read any of his previous work.
The Scarecrow introduces us to Jack McEvoy (who is also featured in other novels), a crime beat reporter recently cut loose from his job. McEvoy is intent on leaving with a hit story to his name in the hopes of winning a Pulitzer Prize. Although a potentially hit story comes his way, his new shadow, Angela, is keen to replace him the second he leaves and Jack is up against the odds to get the scoop.
In parallel to this we learn about the story of interest. A 16-year old drug dealer from a rough area is convicted of murder. The body was left in such a way that resembled another killing as its not long before Jack's instincts for crime reporting lead him on a hunt as if he were a real cop. Believing the two cases aren't a mere coincidence, and that the dealer isn't responsible, the book follows Jack as he starts to investigate.
He enlists the help of Rachel, an FBI agent whom he shares a history with. The web of characters, motivations and events grows and intertwines as the plot thickens, making this an intelligent read but without being overly complex. Without giving too much away, they trace internet activity to a data storage location, where they believe the 'real' killer may have dipped into the 'securely held' files to snare his victims. Whilst you could guess some of the plot from the details as you read, there are nonetheless twists and turns along the way to keep you thinking and interested.
The story is told from two angles and switches at several intersections throughout the book between 'The Farm' (from the angle of the killer) and Jack's perspective. I thought at first that this would make keeping up with the plot a bit confusing, but it was the opposite; we get a feel for all characters involved and Connelly explicitly keeps us up to date on who's who and what's what so we don't get left behind. It was an interesting and different way of laying out the story and it worked in his favour.
I always find Connelly's writing absorbing and this novel is no different. I missed Bosch and the usual faces, but McEvoy shone through in the lead and by the end of it I felt quite close to the characters, I was able to empathise somewhat and get into the atmosphere that Connelly tried to create. It was dark and gritty, cleverly written and addictive to read, offering something a little different to his usual style that, whilst perhaps not as good as some of his previous work, was still worth reading.
550 Pages over 20 chapters.
Summary: Still a worthwhile read even though it's not his best work