Whilst I am a huge fan of the Harry Bosch series, and also very much like the Mickey Haller set of books, when I am in need of a great read, I often return to The Poet – featuring another Connelly multi-book character, Jack McEvoy.
This was the first McEvoy novel, and I have to say I was captivated from the first word to the last. A lot of reviewers were let down by the ending, some even stated they felt cheated by it. Not me. To me it didn't feel tacked on, as such, more a device necessary to ensure we would return to some of these characters at some point in the future.
Sure, you could argue that the FBI are unlikely to work in ways described in this book, part of which has them allowing a reporter – McEvoy – to tag along on a serial-killer investigation simply because his brother was one of the victims. Well, given Connelly was a reporter, I guess he'd know better than most of us how things would work. But so what if it would not happen that way? This is a work of fiction, people. Get over it.
As a writer myself I strive to ensure my research is thorough, that my geographical settings are accurate, and that certain protocols are acknowledged. But what about artistic licence? Authors are allowed to take the odd liberty. It's what we do, setting what lies in the imagination down on paper. Does every single scene or plot device have to stand up to procedural scrutiny?
Not that I believe in really cheating the reader. No 'it was all a dream' stuff, no proclaiming the killer as someone we readers have never met in the previous 399 pages. And of course, when someone uses their instinct to profile a lead, it must be logical, must make sense.
The Poet delivers a fine protagonist, a superb antagonist, and some very well-written secondary characters who fill the page with energy. There are thrills, there is suspense a-plenty, diversions, red herrings, multiple locations, cracking dialogue, links to Edgar Allen Poe. It also introduces FBI Agent Rachel Walling, who goes on to become a recurring character in other Connelly novels. How the hell this was never turned into a movie I do not know.
This was Connelly's fifth novel. He has gone on to become a better writer. But I'm not sure he's ever written a better book.