Short Story Saturday: “Red Eye” from Michael Connelly and Dennis Lehane

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Michael Connelly

This week’s Short Story Saturday entry was co-authored by two of my favorite detective fiction writers: Michael Connelly and Dennis Lehane. “Red Eye,” as published in the 2014 short story compilation FaceOff, centers around the premise that Connelly’s Harry Bosch and Lehane’s Patrick Kenzie find themselves simultaneously searching for the same bad guy.

FaceOff is a collection of eleven co-authored short stories that was published as a fundraiser benefitting the International Thriller Writers group. Because the group’s almost three thousand members are bound by contract to a variety of publishers, and the publishing rights were a little complicated, this one reminds me a bit of what sometimes happens when recording artists from different labels are allowed to collaborate on a single project.

By the time of this story, Harry Bosch is an elder statesman (although some who know Harry would not use such kind words to describe his relationship with the department) of the LAPD. Harry, with retirement staring him in the face, spends his days working cold cases that now have a chance of being solved because of new technology, such as DNA testing, available to the police. Meanwhile, young Patrick Kenzie is doing his thing as one of Boston’s many private detectives. (Note: Lehane’s Kenzie and Gennaro series, although abandoned by the author in 2010, is still missed by those Lehane fans who consider the six books to be his best work.)

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Dennis Lehane

Fate draws the two detectives together when Bosch decides to run some old fingerprints through the various crime databases again, and comes up with a match that did not happen when an old murder was first investigated. Bosch is always determined to close any cold case he works on, but because this one involves the murder of a young girl, he is even more determined than usual to get his hands on the person responsible. So, with a name and an address in hand, Bosch arrives in Boston with high hopes that he is about to catch a murderer.

Bosch is so anxious, in fact, to check out the last known address of the man whose prints he carries that he drives to the address even before his mandatory check-in with the Boston cops. And then, after an hour or so of watching the man’s house from his car, Bosch notices that someone else is doing the same thing from just down the street – or is he watching Bosch? This, of course, turns out to be one Patrick Kenzie, who is desperately searching for the abductor of different young girl who disappeared three days earlier.

The case worked jointly by Bosch and Kenzie turns out to be a rather straightforward one, but the real fun of “Red Eye” is in watching these two very different detectives bond as they get to know each other. Bosch is more than a generation older than Kenzie and he is an experienced big city cop; Kenzie is still in his mid-twenties and generally makes his living working the kinds of cases the Boston police don’t have time to take on. The two men may have very little in common, but by the end of the day each has earned the respect and friendship of the other. It’s easy to envision these two checking in with each other for many years to come.

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