THE SCARECROW by Michael Connelly
â€śThe U.S. Supreme Court had upheld the legality of the policeâ€™s lying to a suspect if the lie would reasonably be seen as such by an innocent personâ€¦but I didnâ€™t feel too good about it. It never seemed right or fair to me that the representatives of our government were allowed to employ lies and tricksâ€”just like the bad guysâ€”with the full approval of the Supreme Court.â€ť
Review by Mary Whipple (OCT 13, 2009)
Author of twenty-two popular novels in the past seventeen years, Michael Connelly has won just about every award possible for mystery writing, not just in the U.S. but also throughout the world, where his novels have been translated into thirty-five languages. Winner of the Edgar, the Anthony, and almost a dozen other U.S. awards, he has also won the Maltese Falcon Award (Japan), the Grand Prix (France), the Premio Bancarella Award (Italy), and the Pepe Carvalho Award (Spain.) Drawing on his years of experience as a crime reporter in Florida and Los Angeles, where he had a close relationship with the local police and other agencies, he imbues his main charactersâ€”newspaper reporters, LAPD detectives, lawyers, and even FBI agentsâ€”with a verisimilitude which many other writers cannot hope to achieve.
Jack McEvoy and Rachel Walling, who were the main characters in Connellyâ€™s first novel, The Poet, about a serial killer, return in this novel, in which they are chasing another serial killer. This is not just an â€śordinaryâ€ť serial killer, however. This killer is a genius with the computer, able to get into any personal account anywhere to deny service, plant phony evidence and/or pornography, close out bank accounts, cancel plane reservations, or spy on e-mails and interoffice communications. Whatâ€™s worse–he works for an internet security agency, and he is so clever that no one is even aware that a seemingly straightforward murder investigation involves a serial killer at all.
Jack McEvoy, a respected and relatively well paid reporter for the Los Angeles Times, has just been given two weeks to finish up his stories before he is laid off from the paper. Like all newspapers these days, the Times is having financial problems, the result of lower ad revenues and more people reading the paper on-line, and by letting Jack go, the paper can bring along one of the new (and much less expensive) youngsters. Jack (like Connelly), the author of a book about a serial killer called The Poet several years ago, has decided that if heâ€™s going to leave the paper, heâ€™s going to write a final story so sensational that he will be long remembered. When he receives a phone call from a woman who claims that the police have jailed her juvenile son for a murder he never committed, Jack and a photographer go off to the projects to interview her. Though Alonzo Winslow may have been involved in any number of other crimes, including the sale of drugs, Jack becomes convinced that he did not, in fact, confess to the murder for which he is currently in jailâ€”the torture and suffocation of a woman who was then stuffed into the trunk of a car, a plastic bag around her neck.
Jack is expected to train his successor, Angela Cook, and introduce her to his contacts, but Angela knows that Jack could be her ticket to success at the paper, and she is savvy and attractive enough to understand how to use her charm on the boss in an effort to â€śpoachâ€ť on Jackâ€™s final story, a mistake she will regret. Jack is soon up to his eyeballs in complications, chasing down leads and eventually using the internet to look up old cases. He becomes convinced that several old cases are connected to the case involving Alonzo Winslow, and that a new murder, which takes place soon after, is the work of the same deranged killer. When he discovers that someone has accessed L.A. Times company memos, his own e-mail, his telephone, and virtually all his accounts, including his bank account and credit cards, as he is preparing to travel, he realizes that â€śI was being [messed] with on a level I had never experienced before.â€ť
Connelly keeps the action coming fast and furiously, and when Jack contacts FBI agent Rachel Walling, a former love with whom he solved the case of The Poet, years ago, the action ratchets up even further, providing a complicated love interest at the same time. The authorâ€™s prose style is efficient and effective as he alternates first-person accounts by Jack McEvoy at the L. A. Times with third-person narratives involving the computer expert in Arizona who seems to be pulling all the strings and playing games with his pursuers. With red herrings galore, the novel will keepÂ Connelly fans involved for hours.
Unfortunately, though Jack McEvoy and Rachel Walling develop into characters with some individuality through their actions, Connelly reveals almost nothing about the computer genius at the heart of the mystery. An early but fleeting scene from the manâ€™s childhood is not explained or developed until the last pages of the book, and his motivation for this series of grisly murders is never explained. While this may increase the tension and the sense of drama as Jack is pursuing the mysterious killer, it makes the ending much less satisfying than it would have been if we had been allowed entrĂ©e into the â€śwhysâ€ť of his behavior. Ironically, Connelly himself anticipates this criticism when Jack McEvoy eventually decides to write a book about this case, announcing that his editor has told him that â€śThe record of grim deeds [the man] committed cannot overshadow the motivations behind itâ€¦I must be able to tell more than what happened. I must tell why. Itâ€™s breadth and depthâ€¦â€ť It is too bad that Michael Connelly did not heed the same advice during the more than four hundred pages of this novel.
|AMAZON READER RATING:||from 261 readers|
|PUBLISHER:||Little, Brown and Company (October 13, 2009)|
|AVAILABLE AS A KINDLE BOOK?||YES! Start Reading Now!|
|AUTHOR WEBSITE:||Michael Connelly|
|MORE ON MOSTLYFICTION:||MostlyFiction (like many others) are great fans of Michael Connelly. As such, we have reviewed a lot of his books over the years:For these Harry Bosch reviews, go here:
City of Bones, Lost Light, The Narrows, The Closers, Echo Park, and The Overlook
For these Michael Haller reviews, go here:
For a review of the latest Micky Haller:
For a review of his latest Michael Haller, The Reversal, go here.
For these stand-alone mysteries, go here:
LAPD Hieronymus (Harry) Bosch Series
- The Black Echo (1992)
- The Black Ice (1993)
- The Concrete Blonde (1994)
- The Last Coyote (1995)
- Trunk Music (1997)
- Angels Flight (1999)
- A Darkness More than Night (2001) *
- City of Bones (2002) /
- Lost Light (2003)
- The Narrows (2004) ***
- The Closers (2005)
- Echo Park (2006)
- The Overlook (2007)
- Nine Dragons (2009) ****
- The Lincoln Lawyer (2005) /
- The Brass Verdict (2008) **
- The Reversal (2010) **
- The Fifth Witness (2011)
- The Gods of Guilt (October 2013)
- The Poet (1996) ***
- Blood Work (1998) *
- Void Moon (2000)
- Chasing the Dime (2002)
- The Scarecrow (2009)
* Terry McCaleb is in these novels
** Harry Bosch is in these novels
*** The Poet is in these novels.
****Mickey Haller is in this novel
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