Picks and Pans Review: Lost Light

updated 04/07/2003 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 04/07/2003 AT 01:00 AM EDT

by Michael Connelly

Critic's Choice

Dour detective Harry Bosch is retired from the LAPD in this, his ninth outing, but he's still haunted by a four-year-old unsolved murder case. "I could not forget her hands. I believed they were reaching to me," Bosch says of the victim, a film production assistant. Her slaying turns out to be connected to the shootings of a pair of famous detectives, as well as to the heist from a movie set of $2 million, some of which turns up in the possession of a suspected terrorist.

As always, Connelly rewards mystery fans who pay close attention: "Safety and salvation were in the details," Bosch explains. There is an energetic pace to the painstaking detective work, and Bosch brings both passion and intelligence to the job. He is a classic flatfoot, a little too independent for his own good and way too impatient to work within the confines of 21st-century law enforcement. The atmosphere and supporting characters are also richly textured: The shadows in a long-ignored cave point to a mysterious grave; a handicapped cop considered to be a hero harbors a terrible secret. Only an uncharacteristically saccharine twist near the end about Bosch's future throws off Connelly's rhythm. (Little, Brown, $25.95)

BOTTOM LINE: Dazzling noir

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