Michael Connelley’s second book – The Black Ice – features Hieronymous “Harry” Bosch, a homicide detective in the Los Angeles Police Department’s Hollywood Division.
A narcotics officer named Calexico “Cal” Moore is found in a motel room with his head blown off. It’s an apparent suicide, and Bosch left out of loop. Something stinks about the scene, and it isn’t just Cal Moore’s decomposed, headless body.
It turns out that “black ice,” a street drug combining heroin, crack and PCP, is at the bottom of everything. It used to be the exclusive market for Hawaiian drug dealers, but the Mexicans are getting really good at manufacturing, smuggling and selling it.
A member of the “Boulevard Anti-Narcotics Group” (BANG), Lucius Porter, decides he wants to quit the force because of stress, and drops off the grid. Later found dead, his demise only adds to the mystery.
Bosch is told to pick one of Porter’s eight open homicide files and close it before Jan. 1. He decides to work on an eight-day old case, a body found beaten to death behind 24-hour diner where BANG unit gathers. And, it turns out that the reporting officer who found body was Cal Moore.
Bosch learns that Humberto Zorrillo (“El Papa,” aka “The Pope”), is operating a black ice lab in his Mexicali ranch across border from where Cal Moore grew up. EnviroBreed, an American plant in Calexico producing irradiated Mediterranean fruit flies, seems to figure in the case.
(By the way, medical examiner Teresa Corazón provides a very interesting treatise by on how the California State Departmentt of Agriculture battles annual Mediterranean fruit fly (tripetid) infestations.)
Bosch heads on down south to Mexicali where he meets up with … get this … Charlie Chan. His bosses want him back because Porter has been found dead, but the answers to everything are in Mexicali at the EnviroBreed plant, and Zorrillo’s ranch.
When the DEA and Mexico militia raid Zorillo’s ranch and EnviroBreed, the drug operation is shut down. Zorillo slips away, and if it weren’t for a bootprint in the dust, things might have remained that way.
The Black Ice kind of grips you by the belt and drags you along with Harry Bosch. There’s a lot of mental philosophizing and soul-searching going on in his mind, thoughts that might sway even the most soft-hearted of us readers. How would YOU handle things Bosch faces? How would YOU test your ethics?
Little, Brown and Company ($30.00 list)