Thursday Evening Book Reviews

Paula Woods on  Michael Connelly’s The Black Box: “Connelly has always excelled at building suspense while paying careful attention to police procedural detail. Notable in “The Black Box” are how the procedural tools of the past — the Thomas Bros. maps and “shake cards” a veteran detective kept on ’90s gang members handed over to Bosch in a black box — are combined with the databases and firearm forensic technology that allow Bosch and his computer-savvy young partner, David Chu, to connect the casing to a gun used in Jespersen’s murder and those of several others in the neighborhood over a 17-year period.” (LATimes)

Keith Staskiewicz on James Ellroy’s Shakedown: “In his recent books, Ellroy has taken to writing in extremely short sentences, adopting a style that’s terser than a telegram from Hemingway. However, in Shakedown — an odd and not particularly effective high-concept novella — he adopts the voice of real-life Hollywood PI Fred Otash, who sold Ellroy his life story.” (

Barbara Berman on Maureen McClane’s My Poets: “McLane is not the first person of letters to create a piece that is not easy to pigeonhole, but this one disappoints, though a writer who feels the magnet pull of the words “spatchcocked” and “kankedort” should be wished well, cheered on, despite the “buts” I’ll discuss.” (The Rumpus)

Dennis Drabelle on Penelope Niven’s Thornton Wilder: A Life: “…draws upon archives unavailable to previous biographers, situates him firmly in his family: old New England Puritan stock, with all the sexual repression that suggests; not much money; a domineering father, who tried to manipulate his children like a puppeteer; an artistic mother.” (Washington Post)

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