The Crossing | Michael Connelly

Once a cop, always a cop, right? It seems a straightforward enough question so it is typical of Connelly that with his latest book, The Crossing, he stands it on its head. Harry Bosch is now late of LAPD. His enemies within the force have been quick to jump on an infraction made during his last case. Bosch is prematurely "retired", down but defiantly not out. So who better than his half-brother and star of his own fictional series, Mickey Haller, to take up Bosch's case and file a suit against the force? And if you are wily old Mickey Haller, who better to have on your side than Harry, particularly when you are defending a man you believe to be innocent in a very high profile murder case.

So the first chapters of The Crossing are taken up with Haller trying to persuade Bosch that his client is innocent and is the victim of an elaborate set-up. Unsurprisingly Bosch takes some convincing as the evidence is DNA based. You can mess with most things but not DNA. It is what it is, isn't it? Well, I am not going to give away plot details but let's just say that this particular DNA evidence is questionable and only Bosch is likely to work out why.

But first there is another issue. Bosch has spent his entire professional career investigating and putting away the bad guys. Along the way he has seen guilty people acquitted on the back of clever defence work in court. For Bosch to work with Mickey Haller means going over to the other side - the first "crossing" of the title. His former colleagues will, for the most part, despise him for doing so. So the first demon that Harry has to wrestle with is his own professional conscience. But there is of course a catch. If Haller's client is in fact innocent, that means that there is a guilty party out there free and able to strike again. Bosch determines to find out who.

The title does not refer only to the shift from prosecution to defence. Other crossings feature prominently: the crossing from employment to retirement, the crossing of cops from upholding the law to breaking it and, of course, the key one in any crime, the point when predator and prey intersect.

For Connelly, too, this is another crossover book, featuring as it does both Haller and Bosch. There is little doubt who is the focus and star of this one: Bosch, hands down. But they are good counterparts. In one memorable scene, Haller holds centre stage "looking high and low, giving everyone an opportunity to ask questions and hear his sage and sometimes wry responses. From his pocket he pulled a thick stack of business cards and handed them out as he spoke, making sure the reporters got his name right… Bosch stood off to the side with his daughter and watched the spectacle." The contrast in their characters could not be clearer.

Needless to say, I enjoyed The Crossing. Connelly always has me wanting "just another chapter". The Crossing doesn't have the blistering ending of some of his work and is generally perhaps a little more restrained in tone. But Connelly couldn't write a bad book if he tried and every one of them is a joy to read.

A longer version of this review appeared in The Star (Malaysia) www.star2.com/culture/books.