Nine Dragons (Audio) - Michael Connelly, Len Cariou

For a series that he has kept going for 20 years, one wonders when [a:Michael Connelly|12470|Michael Connelly|] would run out of ideas and steam. This may well be the book in which he has over-reached, going beyond his comfortable LA haunts, and there upon changed the formula that has made the series so popular.

In [b:Nine Dragons|6413193|Nine Dragons (Harry Bosch, #15)|Michael Connelly||6602180], Connelly brings in the LA Chinese connection via, of all things, the Hongkong triads. What bares the author's discomfort right at the outset is how sketchily he draws the Chinese characters as if from lack of familiarity or research or both. He clearly does not have a handle on the Chinese personality and resorts to incidental action to hold the reader's interest. This is a departure from the pensive, observant, slow boil atmosphere of the previous Bosch books that include stellar novels such as [b:The Last Coyote|49353|The Last Coyote (Harry Bosch, #4)|Michael Connelly||449477] and [b:The Black Echo|32508|The Black Echo (Harry Bosch, #1)|Michael Connelly||48262].

Like the movie version of action stories, often the flow is dependent on far-fetched connections to keep things going. Here, the relative speed with which Bosch finds his missing daughter is made possible by multiple coincidences, violating that sacred rule of novels (attributed to Roger Zelazny) to limit coincidences to one per book.

Perhaps not a fault of the author, but the narrator appears to mistake a Japanese accent as Chinese, going for the rolling R's that would be difficult for native Cantonese or Mandarin speakers.

Connelly tries to save this with some twists at the ending, but in doing so, may have muddled the story further. Overall, the feel is that of a transition or middle novel in a trilogy where all the author is aiming to do is to connect the bookends. But, of course, this is book 12 or 13 of a long-running series, so that is not a sufficient excuse. whatever the reason, this one flopped for me, though not enough to dissuade me from reading other Bosch books.