Michael Connelly,
The Narrows
(Time Warner, 2004)

Michael Connelly has written over a dozen novels. The majority revolve around a familiar character, Harry Bosch, a former LAPD detective who now works as a private investigator. As Connelly's latest novel, The Narrows, gets under way, Bosch is asked by the wife of a friend to investigate her husband's death. (This friend is the main character in another of Connelly's books that was later turned in to a movie. I don't want to mention his name in case you would like to discover this on your own.) This friend appears to have died from heart failure. The wife, now widow, suspects foul play.

About eight years ago, FBI agent Rachel Walling was caught up in a famous case that essentially destroyed her career. Robert Backus, also known as The Poet, is a serial killer who escaped the clutches of the FBI, disappearing after leaving behind evidence to imply his death. For eight years, nobody knew his fate. In reality, he needed time to re-create his look and work on plotting revenge. He has now returned and personally invites Rachel to work his case.

Thus begins a game of chess where the Poet one-ups the FBI with each move. Unfortunately, his well-laid plans did not take into account the prowess of Bosch. Will the Poet finally meet his match when Walling and Bosch eventually team up? He has literally gotten away with murder before. Can he do it again? To find out, I listened to the audiobook version of The Narrows. This unabridged version came on nine CDs and lasted about 11 hours. In short, I found the story well worth a listener's time even if this is your first introduction to Connelly and the Poet. (This book can stand alone, although I would recommend The Poet if you would like more background on the characters).

The Narrows is read by Len Cariou, whom I recognized from the movie About Schmidt. You might have seen him on The West Wing, The Practice or Law & Order. Cariou has a very deep, scratchy voice, reminiscent of someone who has smoked for several decades. Surprisingly, however, he has a wide range that easily supports a number of characters. I did have a little trouble with some of Cariou's female impersonations, who sounded too similar to each other, but all the male characters had such distinctive vocal patterns that I would almost swear more than one man was narrating this audiobook.

Connelly (a former journalist) has a great series going with Harry Bosch. The writing style keeps the audience reading/listening. The characterizations make the audience care. You cannot help but like and admire Bosch, whose ability to put pieces of a puzzle together sound so logical when he describes them. Yet, I know I would not be connecting the dots as he does.

I waited and waited to find out why the book was called The Narrows. I had long given up when, about 10 hours into the story, the reason is revealed. In the end, the title does make sense.

- Rambles
written by Wil Owen
published 13 November 2004

Buy it from Amazon.com.