Contrary to what many people think, not all women of my age and socioeconomic category read only what Oprah tells us to — or, for that matter, read only “women’s” fiction. Oh sure, I read the Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society and totally loved it, and I have Shanghai Girls on my nightstand (but stopped after 50 pages; it’s just not catching me). But plenty of us womenfolk like a good, ripping crime novel as much as the fellas, which is why I pounced on the latest Michael Connelly novel, The Scarecrow, as soon as I saw it.
Connelly is the preeminent crime writer in L.A., a city stuffed with quality crime writers, and while some of his fans (like my husband) think The Scarecrow isn’t his strongest work, I couldn’t put it down. Perhaps that’s because it it deals with themes of considerable interest to me: The decline and suffering of the newspaper business (in this case, the Los Angeles Times, but they’re all miserable), my hometown of Los Angeles, and the risks we all face by having our lives accessible on the internet. Actually, that latter theme has not been of enough interest to me — I’m the sort who cheerfully uses the same password based on an old pet’s name for dozens of sites — but reading this book brought home in a big way just how vunerable we all are, and how easily a bad guy could ruin our lives via the internet.
I won’t give you a plot synopsis, because it’s complex and you should discover it for yourself. I’ll just say that The Scarecrow is a great end-of-summer page-turner, with strong characters, a full-speed plot, a look into two worlds you may not know much about (internet security and newspapers long after the Woodward and Bernstein era) and a moral to take with you: Don’t use your pet’s name as a password for your e-mail account, your online banking or anything that remotely matters.