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Literature / 9 Dragons

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9 Dragons is a 2009 novel by Michael Connelly featuring detective Harry Bosch.

Bosch takes on a case involving a shooting death of a Chinese-American convenience store owner, John Li, who was shot down in cold blood behind his counter. Bosch zeroes in on Triad gangster Bo-Jing Chang as a suspect after store cameras show him coming to the store to extract an extortion payment from Li. Bosch has a personal connection with China; his daughter Madeline lives in Hong Kong with his ex-wife Eleanor Wish. Things get very personal for Bosch when, after receiving a warning to back off the Li murder, he finds out that his daughter has been kidnapped. Bosch frantically catches the next flight to Hong Kong and goes on a perilous mission to rescue Madeline from the Triads.

Tropes present in this work:

  • Abandoned Area: Bosch and Sun finally trace Madeline to a shipyard, which is abandoned because it's Sunday.
  • Asian Store-Owner: John Li was an immigrant from China who is very traditional. This caused some tension with his son Robert, who is American-born and doesn't want to pay the Triad anymore.
  • Blood from the Mouth: Subverted. Bosch notices that the blood on John Li's mouth was smeared, not just coughed up. He figures out that Li swallowed a bullet casing before he died.
  • The Cameo: Mickey Haller, protagonist of five Connelly novels, makes a brief appearance after Bosch finds himself in urgent need of a lawyer upon returning to LA.
  • Chekhov's Gunman: Eugene Lam, an employee of John Li's son Robert, appears in one scene. He's revealed in the end to be the shooter, although both Robert and his sister Mia were in on the plot.
  • Continuity Nod: The Li convenience store is the same store where Bosch wound up at the climax of prior Connelly novel Angels Flight.
  • Contrived Coincidence: Madeline's kidnapping had nothing to do with the Li murder. His daughter just happened to get kidnapped in Hong Kong at the same time Bosch was investigating a murder with suspected Triad connections.
  • Concealment Equals Cover: Averted. Bosch kills one gangster by shooting him through a rusty metal door.
  • Driven to Suicide: Mia Li, caught for the murder of her father, first shoots Bosch's partner to death, then kills herself.
  • Enhance Button: Played realistically, with the use of a computer program to "guess" or fill in the missing data in a blurry picture.
  • In the Back: How Bosch's partner Ignacio Ferras gets it, shot four times in the back by Mia Li.
  • Invulnerable Knuckles: Bosch's knuckles are bleeding after he punches a bad guy in Hong Kong.
  • Language Fluency Denial: Bosch catches a Triad gangster on the boat, but when Bosch grabs him and demands "Can you swim, asshole?", the gangster can only say "No speak." This causes Bosch to hesitate, which allows the gangster to escape. When he comes back after Bosch with a knife he says, "Can you swim, asshole?"
  • Mythology Gag: Matthew McConaughey, who played Mickey Haller in the film of The Lincoln Lawyer, is cited as an alibi witness by a screenwriter.
  • Punk in the Trunk: Bosch finally finds his daughter, alive, bound and gagged and stuffed in a trunk.
  • The Plot Reaper: Eleanor Wish needs to die so Harry can take custody of their daughter.
  • Red Herring: The whole Bo-jing Chang and Chinese gangster angle turns out to be a red herring cooked up by Robert and Mia Li.
  • Roaring Rampage of Revenge: Bosch is going to rescue his daughter and will go to any lengths to do so. Eleanor's death during the search just drives him that much harder to find Maddie. Bosch kills five people during the rescue mission, his highest body count in the series.
  • The Triads and the Tongs: Bosch suspects Triad involvement when a Chinese store owner is murdered. After he arrests a Triad gangster in LA, his daughter is kidnapped in Hong Kong.