Veteran crime reporter Connelly's (The Black Ice, 1993) third novel
deftly blends cop thriller and courtroom drama in a darkly gripping
tale structured around a set of gruesome serial killings. Gritty LA
homicide detective Harry Bosch acted recklessly when he killed a
man who may or may not have been the serial killer known as the
"Dollmaker" for the makeup he applied to his victim's faces after
he raped and murdered them. Four years and a big demotion later
Bosch stands trial for the murder of Norman Church - whose widow,
with the help of her tough-cookie lawyer, asserts that Church was
not the Dollmaker. Bosch's confidence that he got the right guy
crumbles as the prosecution provides an airtight alibi for one of
the murders and as another victim (a buxom blond porn star slayed
after Church's death) is uncovered from a concrete grave. Our
clever, instinctive hero quickly discovers that the murders were
committed by two men - one of them a copycat still on the prowl. To
vindicate himself and save future victims, Bosch stands trial by
day and hunts for the killer at night. A sordid premise becomes
thornier and more chilling as Bosch realizes that the copycat is a
colleague - an insider in the Dollmaker case. Suspects include
Bosch's turncoat ex-partner, a shifty vice-squad cop, a journalist
who reported on the Dollmaker, and an eccentric professor of
psychosexual behavior. The courses of the trial and the
investigation collide in an intricately plotted and turbo-charged
conclusion safely arrived at by Bosch's cunning, foresight, and
trademark intuition. Cliches persist in characters like the brassy
woman lawyer, the foolish bureaucrat, and the hero with a tarnished
heart of gold. But the charming, if retro, writing ("The courtroom
seemed as silent as a dead man's heart") and the lurid thrills make
this gem as lovable as any tale of serial murder can be. (Kirkus
When LAPD detective Harry Bosch shot and killed Norman Church, the
police were convinced it marked the end of the search for one of
the city's most bizarre serial killers. The manhunt for the
'Dollmaker', so called because he painted the faces of all his
victims with make-up after death, was finally over. But four years
later, Norman Church's widow is taking Bosch to court, accusing him
of killing the wrong man. To make matters worse, Bosch has just
received a note, eerily reminiscent of the ones the Dollmaker used
to taunt him with, giving him a location where a body can be found.
Is the Dollmaker still alive? Or is this the work of a vicious
copycat killer, determined to repeat the Dollmaker's grisly feats
and destroy Bosch's career in the process? As he battles to clear
his name in court, Bosch faces a desperate race against time to
find the killer.
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