THE POET By Michael Connelly
MY REVIEW FIVE STARS*****
I finished reading this classic novel early Saturday morning, and it may say something about my status as a party animal, but this book was what I will remember most about the July 4th Holiday. It was a re-read of course. I read it when it was originally published in the mid-90's, and it made a lasting impression on me. I was a seasoned reader of mysteries, police procedurals, and psychological suspense thrillers even back then, and I recognized that THE POET was truly something special, a story that was destined to be ultimately classified as a timeless literary triumph.
I must confess that I have been a devoted Michael Connelly fan for literally decades. His writing style is absolutely addictive, and it is dark, visceral, matter-of-fact, yet truly poetic at other times. In THE POET the reader is able to glean a true picture of journalism as a career choice in general and what it truly means to be a crime reporter in particular. Obviously, Connelly was an award-winning journalist before he became a household name and a Best-Selling Author known all over the globe. He actually worked the crime beat in LA, and it is my opinion that when a writer pens a story about what he has actually experienced, "what he knows", that the authenticity of the narrative veritably leaps off the pages. The main protagonist in THE POET, Jack McEvoy, is a Crime Reporter. His character is well developed in the novel, and he is a sympathetic hero despite his self-awareness about his own flaws and weaknesses in the dog-eat-dog world of journalism. I liked Jack, and he was portrayed as a flesh and blood man with insecurities that humanized him in my eyes. His relationship with the beautiful Rachel Walling showcased Jack's flaws but simultaneously provided the reader with a convincing tale that read as much like a true crime novel as it did fiction.
Rachel Walling was similarly a likeable heroine, albeit her character while having depth was not fleshed out as fully as the main protagonist Jack McEvoy's. There is really no superlatives that would be over-the-top for this unforgettable chase for a devious serial killer. In my mind, it is truly an unforgettable, "unputdownable", and timeless classic psychological thriller. It is a hybrid that contains elements of a mystery novel as well as a gritty crime procedural.
It is interesting to note that at the time THE POET was published in 1996 that Connelly had released only four Harry Bosch Books if I am figuring this correctly. THE POET was a promise that Michael Connelly was truly a master story teller with an addictive writing style capable of greatness as an author. The ensuing years would see that early promise fulfilled many times over.