THE SCARECROW by Michael Connelly
Little, Brown and Company; (May 26, 2009), 448 pages
With The Scarecrow, the author brings back ace crime reporter Jack McEvoy and eventually reunites him with FBI agent Rachel Walling. We last saw our two heroes together in The Poet – Ms. Walling subsequently paired up with Bosch in The Narrows – and I would recommend reading The Poet before this book. (The Narrows is not a necessary prerequisite, but is a good book nonetheless.) McEvoy and Walling are solid protagonists and although I enjoyed The Poet more, this addition is a very engaging and fast read.
Our story opens with McEvoy being given his 14-day notice by the L.A. Times, i.e. he’s being laid off - Jack the latest “Reduction In Force” casualty in the floundering news print industry. After a weekend of wallowing in self-pity – and a few too many cocktails – Jack decides to go out with a bang – meaning a “big story” – while he trains his new, young, and very attractive “replacement”.
After receiving a phone call from an accused murderer’s mother – not surprisingly she claims her son is innocent - Jack begins investigating the seemingly straightforward, but very brutal murder. And lo and behold, there’s more to the crime than meets the proverbial eye. So before the reader can say “Whodunit?”, Jack finds himself on an investigative roller-coaster ride tracking a very shrewd serial killer, with Rachel at his side – kind of – just as in The Poet .
Overall The Scarecrow is a pretty good read and our villain - whose identity the reader learns early on – besides being evil, is also a cyberspace guru. There are a few very predictable twists, which to the credit of the author are not belabored. And there is at least one epiphany “Ah Ha!” moment with our hero, which rings a tad hollow. That being said, The Scarecrow is still an exciting offering from Connelly and even if you don’t love it, fans of this genre and author won’t be disappointed.