21 September 2020

Guest Review: Fair Warning by Michael Connelly

Fair Warning by Michael Connelly book cover
Published by Allen & Unwin
RRP $32.99 AUD
* Copy courtesy of Allen & Unwin *

My TBR keeps growing and I'm sure you can all relate. This week fellow booklover Neil Béchervaise reviewed Fair Warning by Michael Connelly for Carpe Librum. Fair Warning is set in the Harry Bosch universe and is the third book in the Jack McEvoy series. What did you think Neil?

After 23 Harry Bosch novels leading to his continued activity beyond retirement and another half dozen exploring the vagaries of journalism, it didn’t seem likely that Michael Connelly could possibly have much more to say about the machinations of the Los Angeles crime scene. I’m sure I already know every highway, traffic jam and notable building, every movie studio and coffee shop from Hollywood to Long Beach. But wait!

When journo Jack McEvoy, now working for the [real] independent news company ‘Fair Warning’, links the brutal murder of a recent female companion with the increasing popularity of DNA testing, the conflict between news and crime investigation come into sharp focus. The social role of DNA testing to identify ancestors or even existing family links is examined and issues of anonymity are highlighted; the moral/ethical dilemma of withholding evidence versus informing the public of a clear and present danger is McEvoy’s dilemma. As he reflects, “I didn’t like going to my editor, my boss, and saying I didn’t know what to do next. An editor wants confidence. He wants to hear a plan that will lead to a story”.

As more murdered women are discovered, Jack links DNA tracing requests with a single testing company selling information but he is powerless to investigate. American FDA regulations do not yet cover the use of genetic information but McEvoy is on the trail of a ‘big’ story, perhaps a serial killer. It could be the making of ‘Fair Warning’. It will restore his confidence in his profession because, “Most of the time, journalism is simply an exercise in reporting on situations and occurrences of public interest. It is rare that it leads to the toppling of a corrupt politician, a change in the law … When that does happen, the satisfaction is beyond measure."

All the markers of the successful Connelly novel are here, the plot twists, the unrequited love for former FBI agent Rachel Walling, the eternal coffee shops and traffic jams, the ethical dilemmas and, most importantly, perhaps, the argument for independent and unimpeded reportage in the public interest.

Yeah, yeah. It is all very familiar, comfortable even, but … it has become increasingly relevant in this time of media funding cuts, Wikileaks trials, and the persecution, even assassination, of journalists seeking to present the realities of those worlds that most of us can never see.

Highly recommended!

Reviewed by Neil Béchervaise September, 2020.

Neil's Rating:

Available from Booktopia

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