A medical physicist with access to radioactive materials is shot execution style on a Hollywood overlook and a large amount of cesium is missing. The hard-boiled cop Harry Bosch is on the case, and what seperates “The Overlook” from all the other great crime novels out there is that “The Overlook” is not just about catching the killer, it is about the chest-beating between Bosch as a cop and the FBI and viewing the crime as a homicide or an act of terrorism. Bosch wants the solve a homicide, while the FBI wants to recover the cesium.
In the respect the novel’s title becomes multi-facetted. The overlook is the crime scene. It is the big brother supervision, the federal agencies have over the local police force. It is the danger of overlooking seemingly unimportant details in an ivestigation, and the danger of overlooking the facts when you are colored by prejudice and the fear of terrorism.
“The Overlook” is definitely interesting and quite the page-turner, but I would not label the novel as character-driven. Bosch has a past including a relationship with FBI agent Rachel Walling, which is explored in another novel, but the rest of the characters are pretty slim in my opinion.
I know there are a number of novels featuring Bosch and that they are bestsellers, but my experience tells me that in a few months time, I will have difficulty remembering which one I read. Perhaps this has more to do with my patchy memory than the novel itself, although I believe it has at least something to do with the genre as well. A great crime novel is usually fast-paced and quite the page-turner and therefore gulped down, whereas novels in other genres are read more slowly, giving them time to settle in my memory.
As you can gather, “The Overlook” does not have me jumping up and down even though I enjoyed the fact that Bosch’s adversary was the FBI and the thought-provoking differences between their point of view. I would recommend “The Overlook” to readers who like crime novels that touch upon the fears of today.