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Void Moon – the story of Cassie Black

Some basic Boschverse info

Void Moon is the story of reformed casino robber Cassie Black. It’s a self-contained story that sits on the edge of Michael Connelly’s Boschverse. I had skipped over it in my reading order of the series and had missed the fact that Connelly does drop a small reference to the story in one of the later Harry Bosch stories, The Narrows.

If you are following the Boschverse running order then this is entry number 9. It is the first of the series to feature a female lead, although the narrative drive is shared with another protagonist too.

A bit of background

The novel first came out around the year 2000 and feels comfortable with the touchstones of that period. There is a Porsche Boxster, written with a reverence that the car had before it’s decent into mobile-hairdresser territory. There are a few references to the general rubbish nature of in-car CD players too. I sold a fair few in-car CD players around the Y2K and some of them truly sucked on anything less than polished road surfaces.

No-spoiler summary

Cassie Black is on probation in Los Angeles is selling high-end cars. She spent time in jail for a robbery gone wrong in Las Vegas casino. It went wrong with tragic consequences. Things might be about to mean breaking parole and crossing the desert back to Nevada.

For motivation, that you will figure out in the first few chapters, Cassie needs to get money-ed up from a quick payday and out and away from the watchful eye of her probation officer. Avoiding her potentially lecherous sales manager might also be a bonus…

Obviously – this is Connelly, don’t forget – we get the main cast in motion and then we are into fairly swiftly unfolding narrative. Things get set up and then go wrong and we flip between Cassie’s journey and the machinations of the second narrative lead – the psychotic, son of a magician, fixer – Jack Karch.

No love for new-age hokum

The Void Moon of the title is a reference to an astrological element. If I got this correct (and I have zilch faith in that stuff either) it is a point in the month where no planet has control over anything. Bacis chaos stuff. It creates a nice device to pin the bad juju of the story on and I imagine reflects a lack of tolerance for the late 90s/ early 00s LA fixation on pseudo-science.

Location, location, location

One of my favourite things in the Boschverse is the chance to go and Google Earth the locations. Here we jump between Los Angles and Las Vegas and true to most of the other books, we get a decent feeling for the physical. The traffic feels real and journey frustrations help with getting into the heads of the characters themselves. Cassie’s journey into the valley feels hot, tarmac-laden and suburban.

Connelly Easter Eggs

Despite being a tangental part of the Boschverse, we do get a few of these. Cassie’s probation officer is Thelma Kibble. We meet her here for the first time – giving us, for once, the advantage over Bosch who only meets her in The Closers. She also gets a banner in A Darkness More Than Night – so even Terry McCaleb gets a loop-in too.

The building of interelated elements is one of the joys that I find in this series – and makes reading them back to back as a series a thing of pleasure.

Brass tacks and the Brass Verdict

Yes – that is a rubbish reference but…

Michael Connelly does a decent enough job of writing a female lead. For a bloke reading it, Cassie Black seems believable and not overly hampered by those god-awful cliches that male writers seem to misogonystically thrust at non-male leads. She isn’t a bad 00s comic book cover.

The story is a fairly fast-paced run. It follows a more cinematic flow than some of the latter Bosch stories. This is something that is noticable across the series – the older the characters are then the more thoughtful and reflective they become. Cassie is young and the story pace reflects this. The Karch sections seem to pace differently although this may just be me reading into it at this point.

Read, enjoyed and found it an easier read than Blood Work.

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