[By Nic Lindh on Sunday, 15 May 2005]
Michael Connelly is one of the best contemporary crime writers, and Hieronymous Bosch is arguably his most compelling and best-drawn character, so The Narrows should have a lot going for it.
Unfortunately, Connelly phoned this one in. The plot revolves around the resurfacing of the serial killer called The Poet, from the novel with the same name. Basically, The Poet is an extremely sick individual who used to be an FBI agent assigned to catch serial killers while he actually was one himself. Okay. I can work with that. The eponymous novel ends with The Poet getting shot and maybe dying or maybe not. Well, he didn’t. He’s back. And Bosch ends up hunting him down.
There are many frustrating things about The Narrows. One of them is that it’s such a bad serial killer novel. We really don’t learn anything about The Poet except that he’s incredibly smart and incredibly deranged. Well, whoop-de-do. Does the name Hannibal Lecter ring a bell?
The second frustrating thing about The Narrows is that the Hieronymous Bosch character really doesn’t work outside of the cop procedural. He is empty. Being a cop gives him life. As a cop he is fascinating, but outside the blue he is way too constrained and even subdued.
The third frustration is that the plot hangs on The Poet doing something incredibly stupid, which goes against the rest of the setup. And then the resolution is more or less deus ex machina.
If you’re a Connelly fan, it’s probably a good idea to stay away from The Narrows. The one good thing about it is that it looks like Bosch is going to become a cop again. This is cause for celebration, as it means the next Bosch novel may be really good.