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Literature / Angels Flight

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Angels Flight is a 1999 detective novel by Michael Connelly, featuring LAPD detective Harry Bosch.

Bosch is assigned to investigate the murder of Howard Elias, a lawyer who specialized in allegations of police corruption and lawsuits against the LAPD. Elias is found shot to death on the Angels Flight funicular railway in downtown LA. The extremely sensitive nature of the case leads Deputy Chief Irvin Irving to name Bosch as head of a special task force that consists of his partners Jerry Edgar and Kizmin Rider, as well as—much to Bosch's chagrin—three detectives from Internal Affairs. Bosch is especially bothered by being paired up with IAD detective John Chastain, who twice in the past has tried to get Bosch's badge. Harry doesn't have much time to worry about Chastain, however, as his investigation grows to include Elias' last case — a lawsuit on behalf of Michael Harris, a black man claiming that the LAPD had tortured him in an effort to get him to falsely confess to the murder of a little girl.

Angels Flight was adapted into the main plot of the fourth season of Harry Bosch TV series Bosch.

This novel contains examples of:

  • Actually Pretty Funny: Downplayed, since it's Bosch, but when Kiz describes his hypothetical web page for "morose detectives who never say much of anything to anybody", Bosch smiles.
  • Alliterative Name: Kate Kincaid.
  • Asian Store-Owner: Bosch finds himself inside a convenience store owned by a Chinese man at the end, just after he's escaped from the rioters. (That exact same shopkeeper and store pop up again in later Connelly novel 9 Dragons.)
  • Asshole Victim: In-universe, this is very much what Elias is from Bosch's point of view; he even calls him an asshole when speaking to Kiz. Bonus points for it being an Incredibly Lame Pun.
  • Bland-Name Product: Averted. Black Warrior is an actual brand of pencil. Almost certainly does not qualify as Product Placement, considering it's used while torturing an innocent suspect.
  • Bondage Is Bad: Bosch's investigation leads him to a dominatrix's apartment. He interviews her while she's all geared up in a fetish outfit. The narration calls it "a depressing male fantasy."
  • Brick Joke: While looking for clues, one of the more inexperienced detectives finds a small pile of cigarette butts and thinks maybe that's where the killer lay in wait; Bosch counters that it is probably where someone from one of the nearby businesses comes outside to smoke. A few chapters later, he sees someone from one of the nearby businesses come outside to that very spot to smoke, and thinks to himself, "Got that right."
  • Cigarette of Anxiety: A horrified Harry (who is trying to quit smoking) starts jonesing hard for a cigarette after Kiz reveals the child porn website to him.
    • Harry gives it up and borrows a smoke from the shopkeeper at the end after seeing Chastain get beaten to death by a mob of rioters, and having narrowly escaped the same fate himself.
  • Cold-Blooded Torture: A shame-faced Frankie Sheehan admits to Bosch that he and the other LAPD detectives on the case really did torture Michael Harris, up to and including perforating his eardrum with a pencil, in an effort to get him to reveal the location of Stacey Kincaid.
  • Continuity Nod: Several, possibly even more than usual, as if capitalizing on the success of Blood Work to make sure readers are aware that Harry has previous stories:
    • Bosch remembers his two previous IAD beefs and the trips to the Bradbury Building they entailed when he returns there to search Elias's office.
    • When he arrives at the conference room, Harry sees the cigarette burn he left in the table top during the investigation in The Concrete Blonde.
    • Harry mentions that he used to date an English teacher. This was Sylvia Moore, Cal Moore's widow from The Black Ice, who he dated during The Concrete Blonde and broke up with prior to The Last Coyote.
    • When FBI agent Roy Lindell shows up, there is a reference back to "the Trunk Music" case.
    • Harry mentions his house being re-built, which was mentioned last in Trunk Music. He even specifically mentions that it now has two bedrooms.
    • Jerry Edgar is still a horn-dog, preferring to discuss the CSI tech's endowments rather than the case.
    • Harry remembers screaming his lungs out at the bottom of the pool when he found out his mother had died (discussed previously more than once) and wonders if Stacey Kincaid ever did something similar.
    • After being rescued from the riot, Bosch feels "giddy for some reason, like the times he had emerged unscathed from the tunnels in Vietnam", the first time Bosch's service in the war has been mentioned for a while.
  • Demoted to Extra: Jerry Edgar is much less prominent in this novel than normal, mainly because Bosch is going through Teeth-Clenched Teamwork with his temporary partner, John Chastain of Internal Affairs.
  • Defictionalization: Zig-zagged in-universe: a billboard advertising Blood Work appears and is revealed to be a nonfiction docudrama.
  • Desecrating the Dead: Howard Elias is shot three times. In the face, back of the head, and finally up his ass. Also doubles as a Undignified Death.
  • Detective Mole: One of the Internal Affairs cops assigned to investigate the Howard Elias murder is the murderer.
  • Dirty Cop: An LAPD cop killed a troublesome attorney.
  • Double-Meaning Title: Triple meaning title. First, Angels Flight is a Los Angeles landmark. Second, in the last paragraph of the novel, Bosch remembers the screams of Chastain as he was seized by the mob and thinks about how it sounded like the shriek of a fallen angel flying down to hell. Third, Frankie Sheehan remembers the image of Stacey Kincaid's body as being "like a little angel, her arms out, like she was flying."
  • Driven to Suicide: Kate Kincaid kills herself after killing her husband and his security chief, once she finds out that they abused and murdered her daughter.
  • "Eureka!" Moment: When Garwood says none of Sheehan's partners ever knew him to carry a throw-down gun, Bosch is struck hard by the realization that Frankie had been murdered.
  • Going Cold Turkey: Harry, who has been a multi-pack-a-day smoker for years, is trying to quit. In the end, though, it doesn’t take.
  • Gray Rain of Depression: "Rain always made him sad." The rain fits Bosch's mood after the death of Frankie Sheehan.
  • Internal Affairs: Usually the bane of Harry Bosch's existence, but played with in this novel. Three detectives from IAD are matched up with Bosch, Edgar, and Rider to investigate the Elias murder, due to its political sensitivity and Elias's pending lawsuit against the department.
  • The Internet Is for Porn: Bosch's investigation leads him to a dominatrix who advertises on the Internet—which leads him to a far darker example of this trope, namely, a child porn ring.
  • Jurisdiction Friction: Plenty between Bosch's team and the IAD guys assigned to help them, not so much between the LAPD and the FBI, thanks to the presence of Roy Lindell running the show for the latter.
  • The Mole: It turns out that Howard Elias, scourge of the LAPD, had a source inside the police department that was leaking him vital info.
  • Never Suicide: It looks like Frankie Sheehan, Bosch's old partner, killed himself in despair after finding out about the truth of the Black Warrior case. He didn't.
  • No Name Given: For the new chief of police, just like for the previous chief of police.
    • Amusingly, the (or at least a) previous chief's name is now used.
  • Obstructive Bureaucrat: Irving finally graduates to this with full honors, in Bosch's eyes, for hypocritically trying to maneuver the investigation rather than let Bosch and his team do their job unfettered. Until now, Bosch had thought of him as "a hard-ass, but ultimately a fair man" and decides that he's going to "clear the case in spite of Irving's maneuvers." Later, it turns out to be much worse, since Bosch and Garwood speculate that Irving was the person behind quashing the IAD investigation into the Black Warrior case, which led to the civil case, which led to most of the deaths in the book.
  • Off the Wagon: Harry spends the whole book trying to quit smoking. In the end, though, after losing his wife, learning out the truth about what happened to poor Stacey Kincaid, finding his former partner dead on his porch, discovering that his partner was actually murdered, seeing Chastain beaten to death by the rioters, and barely escaping the same fate himself, he borrows a smoke from the shopkeeper.
  • Parental Incest: Stacey Kinkaid was sexually abused by her stepfather, Sam.
  • The Perry Mason Method: Discussed Trope. When told that Elias has planned to "deliver the murderer" in the Michael Harris civil trial, Bosch thinks that, "Revealing the killer in court was Perry Mason stuff. It almost never happened."
  • Retirony: Played straight with Frankie Sheehan, who has given up on caring about police work and is simply counting days until he can retire in eight months. And then....
  • Same Surname Means Related: The novel introduces two characters with the surname O'Connor. They aren't related.
  • Shot in the Ass: Not played for laughs one tiny little bit. The fact that the shooter put the muzzle of his gun right up Elias' backside leads the detectives to conclude that the shooter was a man and the crime was personal.
  • Shout-Out:
  • Teeth-Clenched Teamwork: Bosch is assigned to a special task force for the Howard Elias case that includes John Chastain, his arch-enemy from Internal Affairs. Ultimately subverted when Chastain turns out to be the murderer.
  • Trauma Conga Line: Over the course of the novel, Harry goes through the end of his marriage, learns that Stacey Kincaid had been sexually abused and murdered by her stepfather, found out his former partner and good friend had fallen and tortured an innocent suspect, discovered his former partner dead on his porch from an apparent suicide, realized that his partner had actually been murdered, watched Chastain get beaten to death by a violent mob, and barely escaped the same fate himself. No wonder he goes Off the Wagon and needs a Cigarette of Anxiety at the end.
  • Troll: At several points when Bosch is dealing with Irving, but especially when he's ordering Chastain around, he is plainly simply yanking his chain.
    Bosch [having just assigned Chastain the secretary's desk to search]: Tell you what, why don't you go out first and see if you can find some boxes.
  • A True Story in My Universe: Blood Work is a Based on a True Story thriller about a casual acquaintance of Harry's.
  • Victoria's Secret Compartment: Where Mistress Regina the dominatrix keeps the keys to her handcuffs.
  • Webcomic Time: After being averted in the previous Bosch adventure, it now has only been just over a year since Bosch and Eleanor were married, even though 23 months passed between the two books' publication dates.
  • Who Watches the Watchmen?: So wonders John Chastain of Internal Affairs. "You know as well as I do that there has to be somebody to police the police."
  • Worthy Opponent: Subverted. Sheehan hates Michael Harris but respects the latter's refusal to reveal Stacey Kincaid's whereabouts in spite of how much the cops pressured him. The subversion comes with the reveal that Harris really was an innocent who didn't know where she was.
  • You Called Me "X"; It Must Be Serious: When a conversation between Harry Bosch and Frankie Sheehan becomes serious, the formal names "Hieronymus" and "Francis" are used.