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Book Review: The Closers

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As with many reporters, I will always have a soft spot for Michael Connelly.

While I was working as a crime reporter for the Hemet News and the Sun City News in So. Cal as a younger man, he was a cop reporter for the L.A. Times. My dream then was one day to work for the Times. Now I’m on a different coast and in a different profession.

The most memorable seminar I ever witnessed at a journalism seminar was one featuring Connelly about how he was making the transition from cop reporter to mystery novelist. The small room was jam packed full of budding crime writers wanting to know the trick. How did he do it? What was he doing that we were not doing?

Connelly was either incredibly modest or naive. His answer was, essentially, he gave up sleeping more than three hours a night for about one year while writing his first novel, and got lucky, in that publishers and readers liked it.

But there was obviously more to it than that as any reader of that amazing debut novel will attest. For one thing he writes great dialogue. He drove around with cops to understand how they speak.

And then, he told us, he took it one step further: He made up some of his own expressions. He might call a cop choking on a donut a certain term and then&#8212after the book came out&#8212he had the honor (joy?) of hearing cops using the same terms he’d made up. Now that is a good sign.

Connelly has written some great books and one or two weak ones and The Closers fits in the inferior category. I really liked his last one, the Narrows, but that may be because it has Los Angeles connections that remind me of my younder days.

But with his new one he enters territory which, through no particular fault of his own, is too familiar. I mean, is it fair to blame Connelly for the current trend of tv series and books about cold cases? So I don’t blame him, but I did find the story more tedious as a result.

As always Connelly writes like a dream and has characters that are well developed. But the plot just seemed dry to me.

I give the book a 6. Think I’m being too hard on Connelly? Let me know.
Edited: PC

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About Scott Butki

Scott Butki was a newspaper reporter for more than 10 years before making a career change into education... then into special education. He has been doing special education work for about five years He lives in Austin. He reads at least 50 books a year and has about 15 author interviews each year and, yes, unlike tv hosts he actually reads each one. He is an in-house media critic, a recovering Tetris addict and a proud uncle. He has written articles on practically all topics from zoos to apples and almost everything in between.