Summary and book reviews of The Narrows by Michael Connelly

The Narrows

A Harry Bosch Novel

By Michael Connelly

The Narrows
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  • Hardcover: May 2004,
    416 pages.
    Paperback: Mar 2005,
    456 pages.

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Book Summary

FBI agent Rachel Walling finally gets the call she's dreaded for years: the one that tells her the Poet has returned. Years ago she worked on the famous case, tracking down the serial killer who wove lines of poetry into his hideous crimes. Rachel has never forgotten Robert Backus, the killer who called himself the Poet - and apparently he has not forgotten her either.

Harry Bosch gets a call, too. The former LAPD detective hears from the wife of an old friend who has recently died. The death appeared natural, but this man's ties to the hunt for the Poet make Harry dig deep - and lead him into a terrifying, bewildering situation.

So begins the most compelling, frightening, and masterful novel Michael Connelly has ever written. The Narrows places Harry Bosch in league with Rachel Walling, at odds with the FBI and squarely in the path of the most ruthless and ingenious murderer in Los Angeles's history. What follows is a taut and tantalizing mystery that has Harry Bosch racing from the hostile vistas of the Nevada desert to the glittering Las Vegas strip to the dark corners of Los Angeles.

Through it all, Bosch works at his newfound life as father to a young daughter, balancing the deepest love he has ever felt with his own sense of mission and his profound awareness of evil. This spectacularly dramatic and shocking novel will have Michael Connelly's readers desperately hungry for the next novel from "one of America's best writers"

Chapter 1

SHE WAS IN DARKNESS, floating on a black sea, a starless sky above. She could hear nothing and see nothing. It was a perfect black moment but then Rachel Walling opened her eyes from the dream.

She stared up at the ceiling. She listened to the wind outside and heard the branches of the azaleas scratching against the window. She wondered if it was the scratching on glass or some other noise from within the house that had awakened her. Then her cell phone rang. She wasn’t startled. She calmly reached to the bed table. She brought the phone to her ear and was fully alert when she answered, her voice showing no indication of sleep.

"Agent Walling," she said.

"Rachel? It’s Cherie Dei."

Rachel knew right away that this would not be a Rez call. Cherie Dei meant Quantico. It had been four years since the last time. Rachel had been waiting.

"Where are you, Rachel?"

"I’m at home. Where do you think I’d be?"

"I know you cover a lot of ...

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The sheer number and range of reviews for The Narrows gives an indication of Connelly's literary weight. Below you'll see reviews from the popular press and heavy weights such as the New York Times. This is particularly impressive as The Narrows is the 10 in the Harry Bosch series, and usually by this point in a series review coverage can be difficult to get.

The Narrows is a sequel to Connelly's first stand-alone book, The Poet (1996). For those interested in such things, it's also interesting to note that The Poet and The Narrows are the only two of Connelly's books to be written in the first and third person.  

Media Reviews
Janet Maslin - The New York Times

The Narrows takes its name from a dangerous part of the Los Angeles River and prompts the requisite metaphorical warnings. (Stay out of the narrows.) Like City of Bones, it's a title with more quiet eloquence than may first be apparent. That's the way Mr. Connelly works in a style so simple, blunt and knowing that its impact is almost subconscious. But sleepless readers of The Narrows will know why Harry Bosch is said to have seen-it-all-twice eyes.

Wall Street Journal

...Mr. Connelly's terrific 14th novel...a suspenseful book marked by flashes of insight and moments of pathos, as well as by dry wit and graceful prose.

Denver Post

Michael Connelly gives life to a fictional matchup that is the stuff of his readers' dreams.

The News-Press

Not only is The Narrows one of Connelly's most energized novels to date, it ranks as one of his best lean, measured and paced like the first work of an artist ascending to the next level.

USA Today one emulates Chandler better than Michael Connelly...Just as Connelly neatly draws his cast together, he cleverly connects the dots between Los Angeles, Las Vegas and The Poet's hideout.

Orlando Sentinel

The Narrows is Connelly at his best, producing the creepy, cunning killer he is famed for and, at the same time, weaving into the story line plausible human drama, such as Bosch's poignant attempts to bond with his newly discovered daughter.

The Clarion-Ledger

The Narrows is clean, precise, neatly executed and thrilling. It reads like an out-of-control locomotive you keep refusing to set aside, even though the hour's way past late and your eyes have been burning for the last 40 minutes. ...Hold on tight and stay up late. The Narrows is crime fiction at its gutsy best.


Connelly's latest shamus-versus-serial-killer thriller mixes the cool noir vibe of Raymond Chandler with the freaky head games of Thomas Harris. ...the crooked-haloed Bosch remains one of the most complex crime fighters around.

Sun - Sentinel

Intricately plotted, The Narrows excels in creating an interlocked structure that perfectly melds two of Connelly's works. The taut suspense is matched only by the surprises that Connelly pulls out, beginning with the jaw-dropping first three chapters.

San Jose Mercury News

This is a high point among Connelly novels as he reconfirms his status as one of the best and most reliable of mystery writers... This is an excellent mystery in classic and modern senses.

The Globe and Mail - Peter Robinson

The Narrows is an intelligent, tautly written thriller, and should only serve to heighten Connelly's already exalted stature as one of today's leading crime writers.

Entertainment Weekly - Stephen King

This is scarifying in a big way—a Thomas Harris kind of scary, which is high praise indeed.

Los Angeles Times will reaffirm the belief of Bosch's ever-increasing fan base that the complex hero stands at the epicenter of the well-thought-out, disturbingly moody universe the author has created.

Publishers Weekly

There's a gravitas to the mystery/thrillers of Michael Connelly, a bedrock commitment to the value of human life and the need for law enforcement pros to defend that value, that sets his work apart and above that of many of his contemporaries.

Deadly Pleasures

The Narrows represents Connelly at his very best. If there is a better writer out there writing crime fiction, I'd like to know who it is.

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