Noir Star

'Angels Flight,' Is Classic '50s-Style Mystery.

By Gaylon Parsons

Angels Flight, by Michael Connelly (Little Brown). Cloth, $25.

MICHAEL CONNELLY SCORES again with this classic '50s-style entertainment of murder and paranoia, set in post-riot Los Angeles. A high-profile lawyer, whose main career activity consisted of suing bad cops for abuse of power, shows up dead late one night. The police department braces itself for a public relations beating, a la the Rodney King and O.J. trials. All, however, is not as it appears.

Books Detective Hieronymous Bosch, cut from the same world-weary and somewhat threadbare cloth as many a hard-boiled detective, is roused from midnight reverie to go to work. Bosch, who spends much of his time retelling his favorite cases, wrestles clarity from his sleep-deprived mind with the vigor of the righteous. In the blood-slickened world of the noir crime novel, after all, only broken and abandoned detectives can afford truth. It's all these sad men ever have, and Bosch fits the description better than most: his wife is missing, he's an orphan, he's attempting to quit smoking, and his indifferent bosses are spinning madly in an attempt to stave off chaos.

As the investigation coils through city offices, well-appointed mansions, and South Central intersections, the truth slowly gains weight and reveals itself. Detective Bosch and his two partners, Rider and Edgar, pursue their leads with cool intelligence despite the barbarity they discover. We gain terrible, secret knowledge at the same peril as the detectives do: In this world knowledge sets no one free, and it often kills. It also makes for a great read.

Connelly has been writing such stories for years, and the Bosch subtitle will in all likelihood sell the bulk of this latest offering. He has created a cottage industry in the tradition of Agatha Christie, and fans of detective novels will not be disappointed. Reserve a space on your winter doldrums reading list for Angels Flight. TW

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