This is Connelly's second outing for LAPD Detective Hieronymus Bosch, opening shortly after he returns to work, having recovered from being shot in The Black Echo. Lewis and Clark, the IA detectives who wanted nothing more than to drum Bosch out of the LAPD are both dead.
In this book, we have Harry investigating the murder of an unidentified male who was found outside of a restaurant that is frequented by the detectives of the undercover drug unit. During the course of the investigation, Harry realizes that there might be a connection between his murder and the suicide of Officer Calexico Moore, found dead in a hotel room over the Christmas holidays. Moore is also the subject of an IA investigation, and the belief is that he is a dirty cop who took the easy way out.
Reading The Black Echo and The Black Ice in quick succession really highlighted the thematic similarities between these two books - in each of them, an effort is made to use Harry Bosch's rogue nature in a way that benefits the individuals at the heart of the conspiracy. In both of them, the individuals vastly underestimate Bosch's tenacity as an investigator, losing control of their plans midway through the book. And both of them involves themes of institutional corruption.
We again find Bosch in trouble with the LAPD brass, the subject of angry phone calls with management. He is, always, on the verge not just of firing, but probably of prosecution, for his policy violations. He has no sense of self-preservation. The intertwined cases lead him to the border towns of Calexico and Mexicali, where he runs afoul of the powerful head of a drug syndicate. Given the present situation in Mexico, with the cartels, this book maintains its currency.
Harry sees similarities between himself and Calexico Moore, a fact which makes him very uncomfortable. The reader is finding out more about Harry's personal history, that his mother was a prostitute who was murdered when he was 12, that he grew up in foster care, and that his father, it turns out, was a prominent lawyer named Haller, and that he has a half brother - through Haller's legitimate family. We will get to know Mickey Haller in some of the later books. There is a description of the one meeting that Bosch had with his father, while he was dying of cancer.
Arm chair diagnosing of Harry Bosch would lead to an assessment that he probably has some sort of attachment disorder related to being shuffled between foster homes and orphanages. So far, we haven't met anyone who has gotten close to Harry Bosch - he holds everyone at arms length. For all of that, however, he is not a nihilist, believing firmly that life is sufficiently meaningful that to take it is the greatest crime. He is not swayed by the prominence of the victim, working just as hard on the case of an itinerant worker or a dead junkie as he would on a case where a more "respectable" victim is murdered.
I've already finished The Concrete Blonde, so you can expect a review of that one soon. Happily, Connelly steps outside of his theme of institutional corruption in that one, and gives us a straight up murder mystery.