The Scarecrow (2009) Of all the overlapping characters in Michael Connelly's fictional universe, the closest to the author himself is Jack McEvoy, the newspaper reporter who helped nab… 2009-05-26 Fiction Mystery and Thriller Little Brown & Company
Book Review

The Scarecrow (2009)

The Scarecrow by Michael Connelly
The Scarecrow by Michael Connelly
EW's GRADE
A-

Details Release Date: May 26, 2009; Writer: Michael Connelly; Genres: Fiction, Mystery and Thriller; Publisher: Little Brown & Company

Of all the overlapping characters in Michael Connelly's fictional 
universe, the closest to the author himself is Jack McEvoy, the newspaper reporter who helped nab a serial killer in 1996's The Poet. Both covered the crime beat 
at the Los Angeles Times after working at a regional paper. Though Connelly presciently left newspapers for the lush life of a best-selling 
novelist, McEvoy is still on the beat at the start of The Scarecrow, with a not-very-good novel manuscript sitting in a desk drawer. Then comes the pink slip — and 
a splashy murder case McEvoy hopes will earn him 
a Pulitzer-worthy scoop in his last two weeks on 
the job, as a Bronx cheer to his bean-counting bosses.

Despite the topicality of the story's setting, Connelly doesn't dwell on the death of print journalism. In fact, Connelly doesn't dwell on much of anything in his headlong race to maintain narrative momentum. I mean that as high praise. Connelly is an excellent mystery writer, but the usual laws of maintaining
 suspense do not seem to apply to him: The killer,
 a tech-savvy sicko who operates a data storage center where he mines digital data on potential victims,
 is ID'd in the very first chapter.

Nor do the laws of good descriptive writing apply. I can fully visualize The Scarecrow's expertly choreographed action sequences — particularly a confrontation in a hotel stairwell and the climax in that bunkerlike data storage center — but I couldn't tell you much about the physical appearance of FBI agent Rachel Walling,
 a Connelly regular who reteams with McEvoy here. (Her hair color? No clue.) If Connelly's work seems 
 so cinematic, why has only one of his books been filmed 
 to date, Clint Eastwood's middling Blood Work? I suspect it's because what drive his story are not the vivid action scenes but the more internal clue-reading of his heroes as they piece together the ingenious mystery plots. The Scarecrow certainly reads like a movie — but it's one that unfolds not just in your mind's eye but primarily in your mind. A–

Originally posted May 19, 2009 Published in issue #1049 May 29, 2009 Order article reprints