The Scarecrow

September 10, 2009

Title:  The Scarecrow
Author: Michael Connelly
Reader: Peter Giles
Audiobook: 2009
Length: 11 hours

4 Stars

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Connelly has one of the best detective series going with the Harry Bosch stories.  In The Scarecrow he brings back two characters from earlier works.  Los Angeles Times reporter, Jack McEvoy and FBI agent Rachel Walling as the lead characters, Bosch does not show up this time.  McEvoy appeared many years ago in 1996’s The Poet.  Now about to leave the Times, McEvoy stumbles on a big story that leads to a serial killer.

It all starts with a pink-slip, or as they say at the Times, being added to the 30 list.  McEvoy is given his two weeks notice as the Los Angeles Times continues on a relentless downsizing trend.  It’s no comfort to Jack that he was last cut in the round of layoffs and that he can stay on to train his young and cheaper replacement on the crime beat.

 He takes this humiliation well, deciding to go out with a bang – a crime story that will rock the city.  He thinks he has found it in what appears to be a case of murdered prostitute in a crime-ridden public housing project in south central Los Angeles.  When it becomes clear that the teen-age drug dealer didn’t do the murder the question is – who did?

The search for the answer turns up the scarecrow and much more as McEvoy turns to Walling for help as things quickly get out of control.

This book is Connelly at his finest.  Well-written with a just the right inside touches about the life of a journalist at a major paper like the LA Times, the plot moves swiftly along with lots of action and suspense.   It is no surprise that Connelly gets the newspaper and FBI in-fighting right, but I was delighted that he was able to convey how the internet and technology can be a tool of terror when used by a knowledgeable and determined adversary.

Told from the viewpoint of both McEvoy and the serial killer, Peter Giles reads with complete authority.  He doesn’t overact and is able to give us enough difference in various character’s speech patterns and delivery that the listener understands the various players.  There is a particularly hilarious scene as CNN is about to interview McEvoy, Alonzo Winslow, the teen-age drug dealer and his mother.  Giles shows he knows his characters well with a dead-on performance.

Connelly might be moving to make a new series out of the team of Walling and McEvoy.  If that’s the case, I look forward to more!

Reviewed on 09/04/09 by Robert W. Karp


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