Next on my reading spree following Crime & Punishment by Fyodor Dostoevsky was The Last Coyote by Michael Connelly. I felt like I couldn’t read classic after classic because I either wouldn’t finish them or I’d lose my groove of reading and then I wouldn’t finish them. I felt that following a classic with a more modern piece of crime fiction helped balance the scales. One book for educational purposes and the other for enjoyment.
I’ve read the first four of Michael Connelly’s Harry Bosch novels and I’ve liked each one. They aren’t the same novel each time as far as I’m concerned but they have a similar flow and timeline I guess you could say. The Last Coyote was the fourth Bosch story in the twenty-plus that Connelly has written and this one covered the mystery of Bosch finding his mother’s murderer. Bosch was”raised” primarily in youth homes and foster care. The background is that his mother was a prostitute who was deemed an unfit mother, so he couldn’t stay with her but she could visit and see him until she was suddenly murdered when he was eleven years old (I think that’s right). This novel follows Bosch as he delves into the investigation into his mother’s murder. He finds some major inconsistencies in the “murder book” and while on leave, conducts his own investigation of the murder.
This book had quite a few twists and turns but I love Connelly’s way of utilizing and describing characters. He can give the reader a complete and informed look at a character in a perfect sentence that sums up that character’s appearance, attitude, moral compass, and personality. I’m trying to learn from that so I can use that ability in my own writing but I’m not sure if I’d be able to do it as efficiently as Connelly does it. This seems to be a recurring thing throughout Connelly’s novels as he’s done it across the four that I’ve read and with multiple characters. Connelly’s way of writing his stories makes for easy reading. He doesn’t use incredibly long words out of the thesaurus, unless warranted, and his twists and turns keep you on your toes and glued to the page.
I recall when I read the last book, The Black Ice, there was a solid lull in the story where I found it difficult to keep going. I just wasn’t all that interested. Something about it didn’t captivate me so I put the book down for a while before I came back to it and read it within a few days. The ending to that story made it worth it and so I picked up the next two Bosch books in line and once I finished C&P, I cracked open The Last Coyote and I was not disappointed. Michael Connelly is one of the inspirations behind my own crime fiction story, Burn Out, where I challenged myself to write a detective story similar to the style of Connelly. I know that I struggle with minor characters in my stories so with Burn Out being a short story, I didn’t have to go nuts on the characters but figured if I made it a serialization of short stories, I would have multiple opportunities to develop those characters. Time will tell if my best genre ends up being crime fiction but in the mean time, I’m going to continue studying from Connelly’s novels as he has already proven himself to be an influence on my writing.