After three years out of the LAPD, Harry Bosch returns, to find the department a different place from the one he left. A new Police Chief has been brought over from New York to give the place a thorough clean up from top to bottom. Working with his former partner, Kiz Rider, Harry is assigned to the department's Open-Unsolved Unit, working on the thousands of cold cases that haunt the LAPD's files. These detectives are the Closers - they put a shovel in the dirt and turn over the past. By applying new techniques to old evidence they aim to unearth some hidden killers and bring them to justice, for 'a city that forgets its murder victims is a city lost.'
Harry and Kiz are given a politically sensitive case when a DNA match connects a white supremacist to the 1988 murder of Rebecca Verloren, a sixteen-year-old girl. Becky was of mixed race, and the case appears to have a racial angle. This was LA before the riots and Rodney King; the city was a powder keg waiting for a match. The detectives who worked the case all those years ago seem to have done a decent job, but something doesn't fit. Meanwhile Harry's nemesis, Deputy Chief Irving, is watching him. In the new 'clean' LAPD Irving has been sidelined to a meaningless job. Compelled by vengeance, he hopes that Harry will make a slip.
LAPD detective Harry Bosch, hero of last year's The Narrows and other Connelly thrillers, is back on the force after a two-year retirement. Assigned to the Open Unsolved (cold cases) unit and teamed with former partner Kiz Rider, Harry's first case back involves the killing of a high school girl 17 years before, reopened because of a DNA match to blood found on the murder gun. That premise could be a formula for a routine outing, but not with Connelly. Nor does the author rely on violent action to propel his story; there's next to none. In Connelly/Bosch's world, character, context and procedure are what count, and once again the author proves a master at all. The blood on the gun belongs to a local lowlife white supremacist, Roland Mackey; the victim had a black father and a white mother. But the blood indicates only that Mackey had possession of the gun, so how to pin him to the crime? Connelly meticulously leads the reader along with Bosch and Rider as they explore the links to Mackey and along the way connect the initial investigation of the crime to a police conspiracy. Most striking of all, in developments that give this novel astonishing moral force, the pair explore the "ripples" of the long ago crime, how it has destroyed the young girl's family leaving the mother trapped in the past and plunging the father into a nightmare of homelessness and drink and how it drives Rider, and especially Bosch, into deeper understanding of their own purposes in life. Connelly comes as close as anyone to being today's Dostoyevsky of crime literature, and this is one of his finest novels to date, a likely candidate not only for book award nominations but for major bestsellerdom.