Veteran reporter Jack McEvoy is no longer on the crime beat, he's no longer hunting serial killers or anything of the sort. He's doing consumer watchdog reporting for a website. One night after work, he's approached by two LAPD Detectives about a former one-night stand, Christina Portrero, who has been murdered. The detectives take an almost instant disliking to McEvoy and he's soon a Person of Interest.
I groaned once figured out what was going on initially (it's in the book blurb, I really should pay more attention to things like that). Series protagonists being suspected of murder almost never works for me. The stakes don't feel real. But Connelly abandons this fairly quickly, and his being a person of interest really only serves to get McEvoy interested in the case. Because there's no way he's going to wait for the police to clear him—he's going back to his strengths to clear his name, and maybe uncover the truth.
McEvoy quickly discovers a handful of murders throughout the country that seem to match Portrero's. But the link between them eludes him for a while—and once he begins to get an idea, it's so outlandish that it seems near-impossible. Teaming up with another reporter at the website, he dives in—defying the police. He also recruits Rachel Waling (now in the private sector) to help build a profile of the killer.
McEvoy isn't too far into this investigation before he comes alive—he seems content with his work (maybe not the income from it), but it's not the same as this kind of work. Working with Walling doesn't hurt his enthusiasm, either.
This would just not have worked as a Bosch or Ballard story, it possibly could've worked as a Mickey Haller story—had he been representing someone like McEvoy. But why go to that much trouble when you've got Jack in your back pocket for just this time? (also, we've already got a Haller novel slated for later this year).
One of the advantages of Connelly having invested so little into the character is that the peril he faces when the killer focuses his attention on McEvoy (or Walling)—there's a strong sense of peril. I'm not worried about Ballard or Haller (although I can see the appeal of letting Bosch go out in action, rather than retiring), so even when things get threatening, you don't really worry too much. But McVoy? Come on, the dude's totally expendable and therefore the danger is real.
The initial set up just left me cold, but by the time that had been resolved and the team was fully into the investigation? I was hooked. Hooked in the "please don't bother me with anything short of medical emergency" sense. That didn't stop my family from interrupting me, but it did result in me glaring at them frequently.
This isn't Connelly at his best—it's not even the best McEvoy novel. But man, it's gripping. It's exciting. I had a great time reading it and am glad Connelly brought McEvoy back (and leaves the door open for more).