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The Scarecrow
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  • There's A Killer On The Road
    'Theres a killer on the road
    His brain
    is squirmin like a toad
    Take a long holiday
    Let your children play
    If ya give this man a ride
    Sweet memory will die
    Killer on the road, yeah' The Doors

    It is easy to forget just how good a writer Michael Connolly is. That is until you start reading one of his books. 'The Scarecrow' may be just one of his best. You know going in that this is going to be a book that will scare the hell out of you. That is a given. The writing is the best around, Connolly an ex-paper man, of course it is. Connolly allows you to get inside the minds of everyone. The killer, we feel the way along as he thinks about his next victim and how he will proceed, and what is he going to do about the people after him? The characters and in this case bringing back Jack McEvoy, the newspaper crime writer and his 'single bullet' love, Rachel. she of the FBI, are the perfect foils.

    The murderer is always sharp and intelligent and we know in the first chapter who the murderer is. We just need to be patient and take the ride with McEvoy until he catches up. He provides all the clues, and he and Rachel fill in all the holes. This murderer is particularly clever- he has a tag and a plan and can outwit anyone. We are taken into the world of the collapsing newspaper where jobs are lost and it seems McEnvoy is the 99Th to go- he has two weeks to train his replacement. And, that is what it takes, two weeks and everything is set to explode. Then into the world of computer security and a killer who has a thing about the rock group 'The Doors'. I am writing this at 2:30am because I had to finish the last 50 pages, and then had to write the review to get it out of my mind so I can sleep.

    This is one of the best mystery novels around. I know I have read them all. My hat is off to Mr Connolly. He has put us all on notice that the best has come and it will keep on coming.

    Highly, Highly Recommended. prisrob 05-27-09

    The Brass Verdict: A Novel

    The Reapers: A Thriller...more info
  • Newspapers and the Internet
    I've been reading Michael Connelly since I first read The Black Echo (Connelly's first novel) several years ago. His main character has been the homicide detective Hieronymus "Harry" Bosch (the choice of name is deliberate: see selections of Bosch's paintings online). Bosch is not in this work. Rather, the main character is Jack McEvoy, a reporter for the LA Times, who, about the time he gets laid off (budget cuts) as a reporter, stumbles into a serial murder case. McEvoy has figured in a couple of earlier Connelly novels.

    The story is compelling and fast-paced, well up to Connelly's highest standards. Also along for the ride this time is FBI agent Rachel Walling, who has appeared in a number of previous Connelly novels.

    I won't tell you any more about the plot, since it is relatively standard for serial killer murder mysteries. If you like serial killer stories, you'll enjoy this one. If you don't, read it for Connelly's killer prose.

    There are two primary subtexts to the story as well. The first is the demise of the newspaper largely due to the Internet, which is clearly close to Connelly's heart, having previously been a crime reporter. The other is the dangerously intrusive nature of the Internet and related technology. I remember when the Sandra Bullock movie The Net came out, techies were pooh-poohing it, saying that the things depicted couldn't be done. I'm not so sure that's the case anymore, and there's a cautionary tale here for those who would carelessly spread their lives on the net for all to see....more info
  • Journalist sleuth makes timely reappearance
    With the demise of newspapers looming, bestselling author and former L.A. Times crime reporter Connelly's latest, set in an LA Times struggling to stay afloat, couldn't be more timely.

    Connelly fans will remember rumpled, stalwart newsman Jack McEvoy from "The Poet," and will also be pleased to discover sparks once again flying between McEvoy and FBI agent Rachel Walling (who has made recent appearances in Connelly's Harry Bosch series). A very scary internet-savvy serial killer and Connelly's usual breakneck pacing complete the mix for this absorbing thriller.

    After a brief introduction to the clever killer in his day job as a computer security genius, gleefully laying waste to the life of a would-be hacker, Connelly takes us into the newsroom of the L.A.Times where veteran reporter and Pulitzer Prize winner McEvoy has just been terminated - given two weeks notice in order to train his younger, less expensive replacement, Angela Cook.

    McEvoy accepts the terms, but has no intention of going gently. He decides to write "a story that would make them remember me after I'm gone," another Pulitzer, a story that would show them they'd fired the wrong man. He focuses on a teenage drug dealer from the projects who's just been arrested for the murder of a young white woman, a junkie, stuffed into the trunk of her own car.

    But what starts off as a dark profile morphs into something bigger when it begins to appear the young drug dealer might have been framed - by a clever, sadistic serial killer.

    Switching viewpoints between the killer and McEvoy in a high-stakes dance of smarts and ruthlessness, Connelly keeps the suspense at a high pitch, ratcheting up the pace with law-enforcement mistakes, rule breaking, ego clashes, nick-of-time saves and crackling electricity between McEvoy and Walling.

    But what adds real depth to this fast-paced read is the portrayal of the newsroom in all its old dinosaur warts, traditions, and gritty venerability. Connelly plumbs his journalistic background for more than atmosphere, however, exploring the meeting of internet and paper, and the ways they enhance one another. The ease and speed of internet research, for instance, combined with the structure and discipline of traditional journalism creates a powerful investigative machine, paradoxically undermined by its own economic mechanism.

    Stalking a killer, Connelly gives us a glimpse of a future without newspapers and it's a scary sight. This is one of his best....more info
  • Jack's back
    Michael Connelly once worked as a reporter for the Los Angeles Times but it's nothing more than speculation on my part that the central character of this novel (Jack McEvoy) is loosely based on Connelly himself and his personal working experiences in the newspaper industry. It's the second time McEvoy has fronted a Connelly thriller, the first being The Poet, and once again Jack's involved in the hunt for a highly intelligent and organised serial killer. I so nearly gave this one 5 stars but reluctantly trimmed it by one because, good as it is, it doesn't quite have that special feel to it that many of the Harry Bosch tales provide.

    It could easily be one of the best thrillers of 2009, though. Connelly's a far more accomplished author these days and I would say that this is actually a better-told story than The Poet, even if The Scarecrow himself isn't as esoteric or as enigmatic as the earlier creation. Instead we are given a well-structured, pacey thriller that might defy credibility on more than one occasion but it entertains at all times and for that we get our money's worth. As a character Jack McEvoy lacks the magnetic draw of Connelly's main man Harry Bosch but his 'ordinary guy' personality will appeal to many. He teams up with FBI agent Rachel Walling who also featured in The Poet and who has had a relationship with Bosch in the past, although, tantalisingly, this is only hinted at in the dialogue here and Bosch's name is never actually mentioned. The backgrounds to the story are very topical - company downsizing, redundancy, difficulties in selling a property and on-line invasion and identity theft. It's Jack who faces the door as his newspaper faces the inevitable slide towards surrender to on-line news reporting, so he wants to go out with a bang and write a story to remember. What he doesn't realise is that he will be very much part of the story itself.

    The reader knows who the killer is from the outset, and this has been a recipe for low levels of suspense in the past (from all crime fiction writers) but there are no such problems here as Connelly is one of the best at putting together a rivetting story that just keeps you turning the pages. I must say though that the one big question that I was asking from an early stage was never resolved, and I suspect that Connelly tried to come up with answers but ultimately decided not to offer any. I won't go into any detail but he does address this question in a kind of epilogue, so it was a relief that he showed an awareness of it, but still slightly disappointing that he couldn't create a solution. Instead I suppose the reader has to draw their own conclusion.

    It's been a busy year for Michael Connelly, with The Brass Verdict still fresh in our minds and the eagerly-awaited Bosch outing Nine Dragons later this year; perhaps another topical sign of the times is that even the writers at the top of the tree are finding the going tough in this recession and they find themselves having to publish two novels a year rather than the usual one! Or perhaps Connelly's publishers are under the knife, who knows. But the fact is, The Scarecrow is most definitely not a 'filler' in between two proper Haller & Bosch escapades, no it's a very good crime thriller on its own and more than up to the author's expectedly high standards. If you're a Connelly fan, you'll have this already. If you're wondering if he's as good as you've heard, then buy this with confidence because chances are you'll want more of the same - and there's a treasure chest of a back-catalogue to enjoy. I have read every single one and he continues to rank as one of the very best in the world of crime fiction....more info
  • Walling and McEvoy at it again
    Jack McEvoy, LA Times crime beat reporter/author, and Rachel Walling, famed FBI agent, team up to take down a serial killer in Michael Connelly's latest thriller, The Scarecrow. McEvoy (familiar to regular readers) is back in his usual form...a reporter - from the "good ole days" where hard-copy newspapers were preferred to web-delivered content - who stops at nothing to get his story. Walling also returns to us as the no-nonsense, intuitive profiler.

    In The Scarecrow, Connelly yet again delivers a clever and engaging storyline, complete with the usual geographical references and hotel room love scenes familiar to his readers. The writing style is all Connelly, however the presentation of the plot is different from his past work. The killer's moves are known to the reader well before they are known to the main characters of McEvoy and Walling so the suspense is found in the hows and whys and not so much in the whats. This makes for a slightly less climactic storyline in some ways, but surprisingly more interesting in that the reader is constantly a step ahead of McEvoy & Walling (and therefore eager to put the pieces of the puzzle together). It was a nice change of pace from what Connelly's readers have come to expect (not that this expectation is a bad thing in and of itself) and made for a fascinating read.

    Connelly's characters are well-developed, as always, as are the intricate details that are spun together to form the storyline.

    My only complaint (aside from a glaring editing mistake found near the end of the book) was that the end was too abrupt...not fleshed out enough, perhaps. Even though this is surely purposeful and makes perfect sense given the sequence of events that lead up to the resolution, as a reader, I was left wanting a bit more. For that, I would give The Scarecrow 4.5 stars if possible, but felt it was more deserving of a five-star rating than four....more info
  • This guy is so good in his zone
    I love MC books, but I actually like these characters better than Bosch. Connelly really knows this subject matter (reporting/law enforcement procedural) and brings it to life with a totally up to date plot construction. Best book since the Poet and actually more interesting (although I read the Poet so long ago, I could be wrong). I do like the way the Poet is woven into the story.

    Don't miss this one; it's the best of its genre, which seems to be growing overpopulated with much weaker versions from other authors who are cashing in on (our/my) looking for the next great character driven procedural....more info
  • price too high
    why has amazon pushed the prices up on many of its newer releases. i will not purchase....more info
  • One of Michael Connelly's Weakest
    I have read 14 Michael Connelly books, so I am not a casual fan. But, this has got to be one of his weakest. Trust me, ignore the other reviews that rave about the novel's suspense and thrills. This book is objectively not suspenseful or thrilling. In fact, Connelly tells you who the killer is right from the start. This would be okay if he took a "Columbo"-style approach to the rest of the book, i.e., where Jack and Rachel know who the killer is, but just can't get the goods on him. Instead, Jack and Rachel are fooled throughout the book, up to the very end when they accidentally discover the identity of the real killer. So while the book might be suspenseful for its protagonists, it certainly isn't for the reader. In fact, since the reader already knows the killer's identity, the final third of the book just devolves into a series of pointless chase scenes. To add insult to injury, there is no real "wrap up" to the book. The killer's motives are never explained. Connelly just throws in a line from a Coen brothers' film, "Nobody knows anybody, not that well." While I understand that many serial killers do not have specific motives, nearly all of them are more interesting than this. ...more info
  • A thriller that moves like a bullet
    Connelly uses a reporter, Jack, he introduced once before, in "The Poet". Jack has just been told he is being laid off from the Times. Newspapers are in serious trouble, and Jack's salary is higher than that of the brand new reporter who will take his place.

    All of this just adds depth to the story, which centers around a murder. Jack had reported briefly about the routine slaying of a stripper by a 16-year-old who was apparently selling her drugs.

    Or was the young man the killer?

    This one is so much fun you will need to schedule a whole day free so you can read it all at once. Because you certainly won't want to stop!...more info
  • "Like the paper and ink time was over."
    Jack McEvoy is a soon to be ex-journalist in "The Scarecrow," by Michael Connelly. His bosses have given the crime reporter two weeks to clean out his desk and leave his job at the Los Angeles Times. He is not alone. Quite a few others are being cut in a move to reduce costs and keep the newspaper from going under. However, this is cold comfort to a man who loves his job and is very good at it. Even more galling, he is being asked to train his replacement, Angela Cook, an ambitious rookie who is still wet behind the ears "and willing to work for next to nothing." While he considers his options, Jack decides to go out in a blaze of glory. He intends to prove that a sixteen-year-old black youth is innocent of killing a white woman who was found with a bag over her head in the trunk of her car.

    Connelly shines when he explores the ins and outs of the traditional newspaper business. As a former crime reporter, he seems to empathize with investigative journalists who do not merely report the news, but give it "b & d," breadth and depth, connecting events with larger societal issues such as racial profiling, police brutality, the war on drugs, and the scourge of street gangs. Connelly falters, however, in his depiction of a serial killer who is brilliant, psychotic, sadistic, sexually repressed, and shrewdly manipulative. Sound familiar? It should, since we have seen this type of criminal countless times before. Because the author reveals the perpetrator's identity early on, the only suspense stems from how long it will take Jack and FBI agent Rachel Walling to connect the dots.

    To his credit, Connelly nicely captures the political and cultural ambience of LA. He also explains some of the finer points of computer hacking and identity theft, both timely topics that relate to the criminal's modus operandi. Jack is a likeable protagonist, a "go-with-the-flow" type who still manages to maintain a modicum of integrity and journalistic ethics. Although "The Scarecrow" lacks the sharp edge of Connelly at his best, it is still eminently readable and entertaining. In addition, fans of this talented author can look forward to the forthcoming release of a new Harry Bosch novel, "Nine Dragons," coming out later this year.
    ...more info
  • Good Read but Not Connelly's Best
    Michael Connelly, IMHO, is the best mystery/suspense writer today. Although, Harry Bosch is his best character, he has had several other highly successful books with other lead characters. I refer to The Poet with Jack McEvoy, the main character of this book also, as well as Mickey Haller of Lincoln Lawyer and The Brass Verdict.

    The Scarecrow is undoubtedly bestseller material but does not come close to the quality of its predecessor, The Poet. For one thing, it loses steam in the last 1/3rd of the book by being a little too predictable. I was really intrigued as the story unfolded, but "the catch the badguys" part lasted too long.

    ...more info
  • Michael delivers again......!
    This will be short and sweet....I cannot be more thrilled when a new book of his comes out....I savor every word this talent puts on paper. I especially noted the view of the current situation newspapers are in and how a reporter might deal with this matter. The way this whole story is revealed and solved is just brilliant and regardless of the few negative comments this is a book to savor on many levels. I like this character and hope we will continue to hear from him....more info
  • This Scarecrow Doesn't Dance
    This is Michael Connelly at his best. It's a fascinating read, like so many of his earlier works. I was a bit disappointed with two recent books, The Brass Verdict and The Overlook, but not with The Scarecrow.

    The story is compellingly told, mostly from the perspective of the central character. It seems to me that Connelly is at his best when writing about a strong, ethical character, like Detective Harry Bosch, star of several Connelly works. The Scarecrow features such a strong person, Jack McEvoy, who battles the forces of evil.

    McEvoy is a well-respected veteran L.A. Times crime reporter who gets fired due to the deep budget cuts that reflect the decline of printed media in the face of Internet competition. (People want their news NOW.) Instead of a swift boot out the door, McEvoy gets two week's notice if he agrees to train his replacement. This sort of thing is as current as today's headlines: a lot of good people with years of experience are getting axed and replaced by younger workers with small salaries.

    McEvoy is determined to use those two weeks to build a big story that will help him create a best seller. Several years before his dismissal, McEvoy wrote a best seller about a sensational murder case that he investigated. This is where an earlier Connelly book, The Poet, intersects with The Scarecrow. Connelly also includes FBI Agent Rachel Walling, who has appeared before.

    McEvoy wants another big bucks success as a way of thumbing his nose at the Times. So, in The Scarecrow he works a story about two brutal murders in which the victims' bodies were stuffed in car trunks. The trail leads to a "genius" psycho who uses the Internet for no good at all. And it turns out that the psycho's job gives him access to an overwhelming arsenal of high-tech devices.

    A typical Connelly tactic is to "tutor" the reader as the plot unfolds. In The Brass Verdict it was jury selection and the conduct of a trial. In The Scarecrow there are many details about computer technology and the Internet. The Internet can be a dark alley used for identity theft, character assassination, and extortion. Clearly, Connelly is one of those (most likely, well past forty) who feel somewhat overwhelmed by the new technology. These are people who grew up before there was a P.C. on every desk and a cell phone in every pocket/purse.

    There's plenty of suspense in The Scarecrow. Connelly skillfully reveals things to the reader without telling McEvoy and Walling. The reader then "helplessly" watches McEvoy and Walling stumble about as disaster lurks.

    The Scarecrow gets an easy five....more info
  • Jack is back!!!
    Jack McEvoy is back in Michael Connelly's latest thriller, The Scarecrow. McEvoy, a crime writer who was previously featured in The Poet, is now writing for the LA Times.

    As The Scarecrow opens, McEvoy is becoming a dinosaur. So is the newspaper business in general. He's given two weeks notice if he agrees to train his new replacement, Angela Cook. McEvoy decides that he is going to go out in a blaze of glory, writing a story that will make The Times regret that they gave him the boot. He stumbles upon a case where a young gang-member has been blamed for the rape, torture and murder of a woman found in the trunk of a car. But McEvoy starts discovering that perhaps the kid is innocent after all and that this might actually be the work of a serial killer. He elicits the help of FBI agent Rachel Walling (who appeared in 3 previous Connelly books, including The Poet). Even with the help of the FBI, their lives are in danger as they match wits with someone so evil and with more tools than they can imagine. It's a race to see if McEvoy will even live to write his story.

    The Scarecrow has another story to tell as well, and that is the demise of the newspaper business. Connelly is a former crime-beat writer and knows the score. McEvoy muses "Like the paper and ink newspaper itself, my time was over. It was about the Internet now. It was about hourly uploads to online editions and blogs. It was about television tie-ins and Twitter updates. It was about filing stories `on' your phone instead of using it to call rewrite. The morning paper might as well be called the `Daily Afterthought'. Everything in it was posted on the web the night before." He calls Angela Cook a "baby reporter...She's very good and she's hungry, but she doesn't have the chops...The newspaper is supposed to be the community's watchdog and we're turning it over to the puppies." As someone who can't survive without a morning newspaper or two, this is all very depressing stuff.

    I'd be hard pressed to decide which of Connelly's characters I like best--Bosch or McEvoy. I think I'm leaning toward McEvoy as I suspect that there is a lot of Connelly in his fictional newsman. But whichever one I choose, The Scarecrow is a superb book to add to Connelly's accomplished body of work.

    ...more info
  • Michael delivers again......!
    This will be short and sweet....I cannot be more thrilled when a new book of his comes out....I savor every word this talent puts on paper. I especially noted the view of the current situation newspapers are in and how a reporter might deal with this matter. The way this whole story is revealed and solved is just brilliant and regardless of the few negative comments this is a book to savor on many levels. I like this character and hope we will continue to hear from him....more info
  • exhilarating journalistic investigative thriller
    The L.A. Times pinked reporter Jack McEvoy giving him two weeks notice instead of the usual instant RIF that he is being axed if he agrees to train his replacement Angela Cook. Jack decides to remind his editor what he will lose when he is gone by chasing after a final headline news story.

    Jack investigates the arrest of sixteen year old drug dealer Alonzo Winslow, who confessed to the rape and murder of an exotic dancer. However, to his shock, Jack begins to uncover proof that the nasty teen could not have committed either crime. Meanwhile Angela does a search that leads to a place in Arizona called the "Farm". Those at the farm realize someone has discovered them so they must be eliminated; they send assassins to kill Jack and Angela. Jack turns to FBI agent Rachel Walling whom he met on the POET case years ago to help him with the gangbanger inquiry and with the killers coming for him.

    Moving back and forth between first and third person voice, Michael Connelly provides an exhilarating journalistic investigative thriller. The story line is action-packed and fast-paced from the moment that Jack decides to go out with a big bang and never decelerates. Jack is terrific as he mentors his replacement while working the Farm inquiry that places him and Angela in lethal danger. Mr. Connelly will have his fans up late with THE SCARECROW.

    Harriet Klausner

    ...more info
  • Tough one to rate
    This book reminded me of the final season of The Wire series where they dealt with the rapid changes and downsizing of the newspaper industry, some of the start of the book is very reminiscent of this.

    I found this book to be a good and quick read that I liked but it just did not grab me like a Harry Bosch book does. I think that the author is wanting to spread his literary wings a bit with books on Jack McEvoy and the Mickey Haller series but it just comes off as a bit flat to me.

    The depth of writing is lacking when Bosch is not involved and we get a kind of shallow set of characters who one just does not get into at all.

    In this novel, Connelly sets up a novel revolving around the newspaper industry but soon this gets pushed aside for the story of the murders. This is all well and good but I would really have liked to have seen more depth about the industry and how the characters view newspapers and the future, rather than a fairly mundane mystery.

    All in all, I give the book 3 stars....more info