Review by Loredana Cescutti
Translated from Italian by Mara Cioffi
Author: Michael Connelly
Publishing House: Little Brown & Co.
Publication Year: 2020
Plot. The hero of The Poet and The Scarecrow is back in the new thriller from #1 New York Times bestselling author Michael Connelly. Jack McEvoy, the journalist who never backs down, tracks a serial killer who has been operating completely under the radar–until now. Veteran reporter Jack McEvoy has taken down killers before, but when a woman he had a one-night stand with is murdered in a particularly brutal way, McEvoy realizes he might be facing a criminal mind unlike any he’s ever encountered. McEvoy investigates—against the warnings of the police and his own editor—and makes a shocking discovery that connects the crime to other mysterious deaths across the country. But his inquiry hits a snag when he himself becomes a suspect. As he races to clear his name, McEvoy’s findings point to a serial killer working under the radar of law enforcement for years, and using personal data shared by the victims themselves to select and hunt his targets. Called “the Raymond Chandler of this generation” (Associated Press), Michael Connelly once again delivers an unputdownable thriller that reveals a predator operating from the darkest corners of human nature—and one man courageous and determined enough to stand in his way.
” I make my living from it. I forge my professional relationship on it. I treat it with the passion and precision of an undertaker…”.
“I always thought the secret to dealing with death was keeping her at arm’s length. This was the rule: never let her get close enough to feel her breath on her neck.” (Excerpts from “The Poet” – Michael Connelly, 1996)
So, many years ago (and I avoid telling you how many because I am a lady), my adventure with Michael Connelly began.
Just with the first sentences of the book “The Poet,” I fell inexorably in love with this authority of his style and, most importantly, I opened the door to the thriller genre.
A single fact, if you will, differs between what was then and what has happened now: “The poet” was a fortuitous meeting in one of the many beachfront bookstores, “Fair Warning” instead, it was a long-overdue date I would never give up for the world.
You don’t know the emotion of picking up a magic thread that I had collected so many years ago. I found it thirteen years later with “The Straw Man,” and now, again, it has arrived disruptive more than ever, with a Jack Mcevoy determined not to be overwhelmed by injustice. Above all, choose to take the most straightforward path selected by the detectives in charge of the case.
What is the most powerful spring, the one that can push us to the extreme, forcing us to do what might not be right, but that allows us to feel alive than ever?
In my opinion, the need for survival is inherent in each of us, and it’s activated immediately, as soon as our brain realizes the risk we’re taking.
For Mcevoy, a long-time employee of Fair warning, an online magazine that defends consumers from scams and dangers, the time of the hunt for killers is long over.
But everything changes when he risks being swallowed up by the machine of justice himself.
Let’s put on some coincidences, some biased and rather superficial policemen, the curiosity of a journalist who still has the hunter’s instinct and who has no intention of playing the role of prey, and the game are done.
“I knew I had something on my hands, but I couldn’t define its contours, and I didn’t know how to proceed.”
Jack, you know by now, has always followed the smell of blood, because he is a fair and accurate reporter and because, after the story of the killer nicknamed “the poet,” He had to do of necessity virtue and bring out the best, also, to learn right away how to move. Of course, initially, he was motivated by something that tore him apart and, at the same time, pushed to such an extent that the whole had to give a new perspective quickly not to be crushed, but now the times are different.
Twenty-five years have passed since all this, one less by the straw man, and indeed even less since he no longer deals with the dead.
The quiet life, the freedom of management, salary almost regular but, now, out of the blue, in the background, a possible indictment for the murder that risks falling on his head, for a night-stand already forgotten.
And once again, the need to follow his instincts and feel alive also.
“We had known each other for 25 years, and our relationship had been about fire and ice. Intense and detached, intimate and professional, passionate and ultimately heartbreaking. It left a deep wound in my heart that never fully healed.”
As a reporter once, a chronicler forever, Mcevoy will begin to follow the crumbs of this engine that immediately will prove far more shocking than it seemed at the beginning. If only in terms of blood trails left by the killer and, thanks to the help of the woman who has always be there, he will get back on track.
Once again, Connelly sets up a story that presents itself as a fictional novel and, as a photograph of reality, that of his country, that despite all the innovations that he continues to create, it proves weak concerning specific issues of importance protection of its citizens.
The author addressed the issue of ethics related to personal privacy, which will mainly concern our genetic material and emotional weight, at a global level, which will increasingly assume the careless treatment of these data.
Connelly, who was for a long time a black columnist, spares nothing, tells and reports the facts, proposing a disturbing portrait of an America that although it is so evolved, modern and open to the future, is unable to legislate on issues of relevance such as respect and protection of personal information. In a few clicks, everything, if not correctly protected, becomes public knowledge, even without our consent.
As it is now accustomed to what for me is the master, the writing is smooth and captivating, with a right increasing tension, which is often dampened by the characters, and then rise again in impact when the story demands it.
Past and present of Mcevoy and Walling will allow us to delve back into their stories, their lives, their today, and perhaps, who knows, their possible tomorrow.
But not as you might think.
“For a long time, in the past, I had said that death was my job. Now I knew it still was.»
Trust and believe us, because in my opinion, when life puts you in front of certain kind ofsituations, maybe it just wants to give you a signal in an attempt to make you understand that what you’re doing is not strictly part of you and your way of being. And maybe there’s still time for a change.
I’ll wait and see if time will agree with me.
See you soon, Mr. Connelly!
Michael Connelly: Michael Connelly decided to become a writer after discovering the books of Raymond Chandler while attending the University of Florida. Once he decided on this direction he chose a major in journalism and a minor in creative writing — a curriculum in which one of his teachers was novelist Harry Crews. After graduating in 1980, Connelly worked at newspapers in Daytona Beach and Fort Lauderdale, Florida, primarily specializing in the crime beat. In Fort Lauderdale he wrote about police and crime during the height of the murder and violence wave that rolled over South Florida during the so-called cocaine wars. In 1986, he and two other reporters spent several months interviewing survivors of a major airline crash. They wrote a magazine story on the crash and the survivors which was later short-listed for the Pulitzer Prize for feature writing. The magazine story also moved Connelly into the upper levels of journalism, landing him a job as a crime reporter for the Los Angeles Times, one of the largest papers in the country, and bringing him to the city of which his literary hero, Chandler, had written. After three years on the crime beat in L.A., Connelly began writing his first novel to feature LAPD Detective Hieronymus Bosch. The novel, The Black Echo, based in part on a true crime that had occurred in Los Angeles, was published in 1992 and won the Edgar Award for Best First Novel by the Mystery Writers of America. Connelly has followed that up with over 30 more novels. Over eighty million copies of Connelly’s books have sold worldwide and he has been translated into forty foreign languages. He has won the Edgar Award, Anthony Award, Macavity Award, Los Angeles Times Best Mystery/Thriller Award, Shamus Award, Dilys Award, Nero Award, Barry Award, Audie Award, Ridley Award, Maltese Falcon Award (Japan), .38 Caliber Award (France), Grand Prix Award (France), Premio Bancarella Award (Italy), and the Pepe Carvalho award (Spain) . Michael was the President of the Mystery Writers of America organization in 2003 and 2004. In addition to his literary work, Michael is one of the producers and writers of the TV show, “Bosch,” which is streaming on Amazon Prime Video. Michael lives with his family in Los Angeles and Tampa, Florida.
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