© 2009 Michael Connelly
Harry Bosch doesn’t know who they are. He doesn’t know what they want. If they’re looking for ransom, he doesn’t have money, but he does have is a very particular set of skills, acquired over a long career, skills that make him a nightmare for people who might have abducted his daughter to threaten him away from a case involving a Hong Kong gang. If they don’t let his daughter go, he will look for them, he will find them, and he will kill them. And he’ll still close his case, because that’s what Harry Bosch does. He takes down baddies and then he sits in the dark and listens to jazz.
9 Dragons is an unusual Harry Bosch novel in that it begins as a police procedural before quickly becoming an international action-adventure thriller. Usually, Harry is dealing with pedestrian scum of the earth — rapists, robbers, etc — but this time his investigation of an apparent robbery and homicide turns him on to a Chinese gang, one that imperils his ex-wife and daughter living in Hong Kong. He’s definitely out of his element, away from his usual resources and forced to rely on people he would otherwise distrust: like an Asian Gang Unit cop who talks too much and his ex-wife’s mysterious Chinese valet. Although the book is bookended as a procedural, with respect paid to the chain of evidence, laws, that sort of thing, the great in-between is a rip-roaring manhunt as Bosch tears through Hong Kong’s underbelly looking for his daughter — and adding to the pile of bodies he finds with his own freshly-minted ones. It really isn’t smart to kidnap a street detective’s daughter and try to sell her for organs, it really isn’t.
I enjoyed 9 Dragons well enough as the action thriller it was, especially with the little cameo played by Mickey Haller (Connelly’s other novel series character), but the intrigue of the initial case was quickly sidelined by the action itself. Still, Connelly kept my attention, and it can’t be said that he gave Bosch a quick and easy shoot `em up solution: Bosch has to surrender his pound of flesh before all is said and done. The greatest appeal of this novel for me — as someone who always imagines Liam Neeson in the role of Bosch — was the ability to quote Taken while reading it.