Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Nine Dragons, by Michael Connelly

I hadn't read Connelly for awhile. Not that I had anything to complain about--I've always liked him. But as with any successful and fairly prolific writer you can tend to fall behind. Reviewing a book like this one has its challenges. Despite the fact that I know you can pick up plot descriptions practically anywhere, I really think this book works best when you pick it up without preconception and enter into its journey. So can I just say pick it up and start reading?

Well, its my blog. I guess I can.

What I will say here is that Connelly is a master of this form. He's got Harry Bosch picking up what seems to be a pretty standard hold up murder. He then takes this story at an absolutely relentless pace to places that follow logically but are very far afield from this South L.A. beginning. More incredibly, he weaves it all back.

Even that is probably saying too much. I'll stop.


  1. Connelly's a favorite at the bookstore, and my son has read and liked some of his books. I'll have to keep this one in mind.

  2. He is consistently good. I have never heard him talk about how he plots it out, but he must. It woudl be interesting to hear him talk about his craft. I think he must be organized, rather than off the cuff.

    If I remember right, he wandered into the bookstore once in an unofficial way. I believe he was very nice.

  3. And now I have been pouting for days because I though Amazon´s Kindle books were far too expensive (many cost the same or even more than the paperback which doesn´t make sense). But they are willing to sell me "9 Dragons" for $ 4.99.

    I haven´t read all his books and I don´t plan to, but perhaps I should give in to temptation this time?

    I do read blurbs, by the way, but that is just because I don´t remember them for five minutes anyway so they can´t spoil my reading experience. But I much prefer a recommendation by a blogger whose opinion I respect.

  4. I don't think reading the blurbs would hurt you, it's just that it was so effective reading without having any idea where it was going.

    One thing I like about Connelly is that he is so effective at getting across place. He's certainly not flowery or convoluted but he really builds up the architecture of his setting. He knows L.A., that's for sure, having been to some of the places he describes. And his approach seems to be effective in a totally different settings as well.

    Your Kindle experiment is interesting. I figure I will end up with an e-reader sooner or later, largely because there are some things I can only get in that form, but I do have some issues about the Kindle that go beyond my official stance as an indie bookstore worker. I wrote a little about one of them recently here if you're interested. (You can just scroll down to the picture of the Kindle if you want to skip all the other stuff.)

  5. I understand your reluctance to buy a Kindle, both because of the Orwellian aspect and the indie bookshop aspect.

    But Danish bookshops just weaned me off buying their books - no; I have never developed of bying books via bookshops.

    First of all because of the prices. Danish bookshops have had the right to decide the price until recently which means that it was cheaper for us to import British books than buy them in Denmark. Today hardcovers typically cost more than £ 30, paperbacks from £ 20. (Part of the problem is VAT, but it is also too little competition). No one can afford to buy 8-10 of those every month.

    Second, the quality of Danish bookshops fell drastically long before I began shopping online. When I was younger, I resorted to the library and the secondhand shops, but when I had enough money to at least buy book gifts once i a while, there were no books on the shelves. Well, ten bestsellers perhaps. You can always get Stephen King, Stieg Larsson etc.

    So really, those shops & their policy made it impossible for ordinary people to buy books long before Amazon could threaten them. With my Kindle I can buy books at prices the rest of the world take for granted without having to think of VAT and shipping.

  6. Thanks for that perspective, Dorte. I actually don't really subcribe to the Kindle is evil mentality myself, although I do have concerns with them from that Orwellian point of view. But I forget sometimes how expensive books are in other countries, proportional to currency.

    I also sometimes forget that in my own childhood, we really used the libraries and I don't think bookstores factored in much, though we did end up with a lot of books somehow anyway. Presents and things, I'd guess.

    In my present town, though, the store I work in is something of a local institution. I know that a sizable portion of the community would be devastated if it disappeared, and I think in the American landscape that kind of neighborhood bookstore where people can gather, hear writers come speak and all the other things that a bookstore provides is slowly or not so slowly vanishing. To our loss.

  7. I wish we had that kind of bookshop, but our library does some of the same things. So I know that if I ever sell that novel, they will ask me for an author evening immediately.