‘Two Kinds of Truth’ By Michael Connelly. Little, Brown, 400 pages, $29
The truth should be an unshakeable constant that cannot be maligned. But the truth is, it can be manipulated to suit different agendas. Detective Harry Bosch knows all too well about the truth, which plays a major part in Michael Connelly’s exciting 20th outing with his perennial hero.
As Bosch muses, “. . .there were two kinds of truth in this world. The truth that was the unalterable bedrock of one’s life and mission. And the other, the malleable truth of politicians, charlatans, corrupt lawyers and their clients, bent and molded to serve whatever purpose was at hand.”
Connelly is one of the few authors who can use the idea of truthiness as a springboard for a gripping thriller about corruption, opioids, politics and the minutiae of a police investigation.
Two separate investigations fuel “Two Kinds of Truth,” available Oct. 31. Retired from the L.A.P.D., Harry now works as a volunteer with the tiny San Fernando Police Department, where his experience often puts him in charge of a current investigation as he works through the department’s cold case files.
The execution murder of two local pharmacists who were father and son pulls Harry and the department into a crime syndicate that uses the homeless to daily gather thousands of prescription opioids that can be resold.
The other case began more than 30 years earlier when Harry and his now deceased partner helped convict killer Preston Borders, who is on death row. New DNA testing seems to reveal that Preston was not the killer, and the suggestion is that either Harry or his partner planted evidence. The case has far-reaching ramifications. It would not only threaten Harry’s “public reputation and private self-worth,” but could put his previous cases in doubt. If that happened, “it would cast him adrift.”
Connelly superbly builds the two plots, making each storyline smooth and seamless. Connelly avoids the cliché of linking the two cases, keeping each separate while allowing Harry to constantly be thinking of both. A sense of urgency imbues each — the pill mill plot because of the current opioid crisis that is in the news, but the stakes also are high in the 30-year-old case. And Harry is not likely to give either case less than his all.
“Two Kinds of Truth” also touches on parenting — more than anything Harry wants to have his daughter’s respect — and the institutional knowledge that a longtime professional like Harry brings. Harry’s compassion about the homeless men and women pulled into virtual slavery to move the pills adds an extra depth when he puts his feelings into action.
This year has brought a double dose of Connelly, who launched a new series about L.A. detective Renée Ballard in “The Late Show,” published in July. And now we have “Two Kinds of Truth.”
It’s become an annual refrain — but Connelly truly is one of the finest mystery writers. And that’s the truth.
Oline H. Cogdill can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.