The Poet

The Poet

by Michael Connelly

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The Poet by Michael Connelly


An electrifying standalone thriller that breaks all the rules! With an introduction by Stephen King.

Death is reporter Jack McEvoy's beat: his calling, his obsession. But this time, death brings McEvoy the story he never wanted to write--and the mystery he desperately needs to solve. A serial killer of unprecedented savagery and cunning is at large. His targets: homicide cops, each haunted by a murder case he couldn't crack. The killer's calling card: a quotation from the works of Edgar Allan Poe. His latest victim is McEvoy's own brother. And his last...may be McEvoy himself.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781478948315
Publisher: Grand Central Publishing
Publication date: 09/26/2017
Series: Jack McEvoy Series , #1
Edition description: Reissue
Pages: 544
Sales rank: 95,624
Product dimensions: 4.50(w) x 7.75(h) x 1.25(d)

About the Author

Michael Connelly is the author of twenty-nine novels, including #1 New York Times bestsellers including The Wrong Side of Goodbye and The Crossing. His books, which include the Harry Bosch series and Lincoln Lawyer series, have sold more than sixty million copies worldwide. Connelly is a former newspaper reporter who has won numerous awards for his journalism and his novels and is the executive producer of Bosch, starring Titus Welliver. He spends his time in California and Florida.


Sarasota, Florida

Date of Birth:

July 21, 1956

Place of Birth:

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania


B.A. in Journalism, University of Florida, 1980

Read an Excerpt

The Poet

Chapter One

Death is my beat. I make my living from it. I forge my professional reputation on it. I treat it with the passion and precision of an undertaker-somber and sympathetic about it when I'm with the bereaved, a skilled craftsman with it when I'm alone. I've always thought the secret of dealing with death was to keep it at arm's length. That's the rule. Don't let it breathe in your face.

But my rule didn't protect me. When the two detectives came for me and told me about Sean, a cold numbness quickly enveloped me. It was like I was on the other side of the aquarium window. I moved as if underwater-back and forth, back and forth-and looked out at the rest of the world through the glass. From the backseat of their car I could see my eyes in the rearview mirror, flashing each time we passed beneath a streetlight. I recognized the thousand-yard stare I had seen in the eyes of fresh widows I had interviewed over the years.

I knew only one of the two detectives. Harold Wexler. I had met him a few months earlier when I stopped into the Pints Of for a drink with Sean. They worked CAPs together on the Denver PD. I remember Sean called him Wex. Cops always use nicknames for each other. Wexler's is Wex, Sean's, Mac. It's some kind of tribal bonding thing. Some of the names aren't complimentary but the cops don't complain. I know one down in Colorado Springs named Scoto whom most other cops call Scroto. Some even go all the way and call him Scrotum, but my guess is that you have to be a close friend to get away with that.

Wexler was built like a small bull, powerful but squat. A voice slowly cured over the years by cigarette smoke and whiskey. A hatchet face that always seemed red the times I saw him. I remember he drank Jim Beam over ice. I'm always interested in what cops drink. It tells a lot about them. When they're taking it straight like that, I always think that maybe they've seen too many things too many times that most people never see even once. Sean was drinking Lite beer that night, but he was young. Even though he was the supe of the CAPs unit, he was at least ten years younger than Wexler. Maybe in ten years he would have been taking his medicine cold and straight like Wexler. But now I'll never know.

I spent most of the drive out from Denver thinking about that night at the Pints Of. Not that anything important had happened. It was just drinks with my brother at the cop bar. And it was the last good time between us, before Theresa Lofton came up. That memory put me back in the aquarium.

But during the moments that reality was able to punch through the glass and into my heart, I was seized by a feeling of failure and grief. It was the first real tearing of the soul I had experienced in my thirty-four years. That included the death of my sister. I was too young then to properly grieve for Sarah or even to understand the pain of a life unfulfilled. I grieved now because I had not even known Sean was so close to the edge. He was Lite beer while all the other cops I knew were whiskey on the rocks.

Of course, I also recognized how self-pitying this kind of grief was. The truth was that for a long time we hadn't listened much to each other. We had taken different paths. And each time I acknowledged this truth the cycle of my grief would begin again.

* * *

My brother once told me the theory of the limit. He said every homicide cop had a limit but the limit was unknown until it was reached. He was talking about dead bodies. Sean believed that there were just so many that a cop could look at. It was a different number for every person. Some hit it early. Some put in twenty in homicide and never got close. But there was a number. And when it came up, that was it. You transferred to records, you turned in your badge, you did something. Because you just couldn't look at another one. And if you did, if you exceeded your limit, well, then you were in trouble. You might end up sucking down a bullet. That's what Sean said. * * *

I realized that the other one, Ray St. Louis, had said something to me.

He turned around in his seat to look back at me. He was much larger than Wexler. Even in the dim light of the car I could make out the rough texture of his pockmarked face. I didn't know him but I'd heard him referred to by other cops and I knew they called him Big Dog. I had thought that he and Wexler made the perfect Mutt and Jeff team when I first saw them waiting for me in the lobby at the Rocky. It was like they had stepped out of a late-night movie. Long, dark overcoats, hats. The whole scene should have been in black and white.

"You hear me, Jack. We'll break it to her. That's our job, but we'd just like you to be there to sort of help us out, maybe stay with her if it gets rough. You know, if she needs to be with somebody. Okay?"


"Good, Jack."

We were going to Sean's house. Not the apartment he split with four other cops in Denver so in accordance with city regs he was a Denver resident. His house in Boulder where his wife, Riley, would answer our knock. I knew nobody was going to be breaking anything to her. She'd know what the news was the moment she opened the door and saw the three of us standing there without Sean. Any cop's wife would know. They spend their lives dreading and preparing for that day. Every time there's a knock on the door they expect it to be death's messengers standing there when they open it. This time it would be.

"You know, she's going to know," I told them.

"Probably," Wexler said. "They always do."

I realized they were counting on Riley knowing the score as soon as she opened the door. It would make their job easier.

I dropped my chin to my chest and brought my fingers up beneath my glasses to pinch the bridge of my nose. I realized I had become a character in one of my own stories-exhibiting the details of grief and loss I worked so hard to get so I could make a thirty-inch newspaper story seem meaningful. Now I was one of the details in this story.

A sense of shame descended on me as I thought of all the calls I had made to a widow or parent of a dead child. Or brother of a suicide. Yes, I had even made those. I don't think there was any kind of death that I hadn't written about, that hadn't brought me around as the intruder into somebody's pain.

How do you feel? Trusty words for a reporter. Always the first question. If not so direct, then carefully camouflaged in words meant to impart sympathy and understanding-feelings I didn't actually have. I carried a reminder of this callousness. A thin white scar running along my left cheek just above the line of my beard. It was from the diamond engagement ring of a woman whose fiancé had been killed in an avalanche near Breckenridge. I asked her the old standby and she responded with a backhand across my face. At the time I was new to the job and thought I had been wronged. Now I wear the scar like a badge.

"You better pull over," I said. "I'm going to be sick."

Wexler jerked the car into the freeway's breakdown lane. We skidded a little on the black ice but then he got control. Before the car had completely stopped I tried desperately to open the door but the handle wouldn't work. It was a detective car, I realized, and the passengers who most often rode in the back were suspects and prisoners. The back doors had security locks controlled from the front.

"The door," I managed to strangle out.

The car finally jerked to a stop as Wexler disengaged the security lock. I opened the door, leaned out and vomited into the dirty slush. Three great heaves from the gut. For a half a minute I didn't move, waiting for more, but that was it. I was empty. I thought about the backseat of the car. For prisoners and suspects. And I guessed that I was both now. Suspect as a brother. A prisoner of my own pride. The sentence, of course, would now be life.

Those thoughts quickly slipped away with the relief the physical exorcism brought. I gingerly stepped out of the car and walked to the edge of the asphalt where the light from the passing cars reflected in moving rainbows on the petroleum-exhaust glaze on the February snow. It looked as if we had stopped alongside a grazing meadow but I didn't know where. I hadn't been paying attention to how far along to Boulder we were. I took off my gloves and glasses and put them in the pockets of my coat. Then I reached down and dug beneath the spoiled surface to where the snow was white and pure. I took up two handfuls of the cold, clean powder and pressed it to my face, rubbing my skin until it stung.

"You okay?" St. Louis asked.

He had come up behind me with his stupid question. It was up there with How do you feel? I ignored it.

"Let's go," I said.

We got back in and Wexler wordlessly pulled the car back onto the freeway. I saw a sign for the Broomfield exit and knew we were about halfway there. Growing up in Boulder, I had made the thirty-mile run between there and Denver a thousand times but the stretch seemed like alien territory to me now.

For the first time I thought of my parents and how they would deal with this. Stoicly, I decided. They handled everything that way. They never discussed it. They moved on. They'd done it with Sarah. Now they'd do it with Sean.

"Why'd he do it?" I asked after a few minutes.

Wexler and St. Louis said nothing.

"I'm his brother. We're twins, for Christ's sake."

"You're also a reporter," St. Louis said. "We picked you up because we want Riley to be with family if she needs it. You're the only-"

"My brother fucking killed himself!"

I said it too loud. It had a quality of hysteria to it that I knew never worked with cops. You start yelling and they have a way of shutting down, going cold. I continued in a subdued voice.

"I think I am entitled to know what happened and why. I'm not writing a fucking story. Jesus, you guys are ..."

I shook my head and didn't finish. If I tried I thought I would lose it again. I gazed out the window and could see the lights of Boulder coming up. So many more than when I was a kid.

"We don't know why," Wexler finally said after a half minute. "Okay? All I can say is that it happens. Sometimes cops get tired of all the shit that comes down the pipe. Mac might've gotten tired, that's all. Who knows? But they're working on it. And when they know, I'll know. And I'll tell you. That's a promise."

"Who's working on it?"

"The park services turned it over to our department. SIU is handling it."

"What do you mean Special Investigations? They don't handle cop suicides."

"Normally, they don't. We do. CAPs. But this time it's just that they're not going to let us investigate our own. Conflict of interest, you know."

CAPs, I thought. Crimes Against Persons. Homicide, assault, rape, suicide. I wondered who would be listed in the reports as the person against whom this crime had been committed. Riley? Me? My parents? My brother?

"It was because of Theresa Lofton, wasn't it?" I asked, though it wasn't really a question. I didn't feel I needed their confirmation or denial. I was just saying out loud what I believed to be the obvious.

"We don't know, Jack," St. Louis said. "Let's leave it at that for now."

* * *

The death of Theresa Lofton was the kind of murder that gave people pause. Not just in Denver, but everywhere. It made anybody who heard or read about it stop for at least a moment to consider the violent images it conjured in the mind, the twist it caused in the gut.

Most homicides are little murders. That's what we call them in the newspaper business. Their effect on others is limited, their grasp on the imagination is short-lived. They get a few paragraphs on the inside pages. Buried in the paper the way the victims are buried in the ground.

But when an attractive college student is found in two pieces in a theretofore peaceful place like Washington Park, there usually isn't enough space in the paper for all the inches of copy it will generate. Theresa Lofton's was no little murder. It was a magnet that pulled at reporters from across the country. Theresa Lofton was the girl in two pieces. That was the catchy thing about this one. And so they descended on Denver from places like New York and Chicago and Los Angeles, television, tabloid and newspaper reporters alike. For a week, they stayed at hotels with good room service, roamed the city and the University of Denver campus, asked meaningless questions and got meaningless answers. Some staked out the day care center where Lofton had worked part-time or went up to Butte, where she had come from. Wherever they went they learned the same thing, that Theresa Lofton fit that most exclusive media image of all, the All-American Girl.

The Theresa Lofton murder was inevitably compared to the Black Dahlia case of fifty years ago in Los Angeles. In that case, a not so All-American Girl was found severed at the midriff in an empty lot. A tabloid television show dubbed Theresa Lofton the White Dahlia, playing on the fact that she had been found on a snow-covered field near Denver's Lake Grassmere.

And so the story fed on itself. It burned as hot as a trashcan fire for almost two weeks. But nobody was arrested and there were other crimes, other fires for the national media to warm itself by. Updates on the Lofton case dropped back into the inside pages of the Colorado papers. They became briefs for the digest pages. And Theresa Lofton finally took her spot among the little murders. She was buried.

All the while, the police in general, and my brother in particular, remained virtually mute, refusing even to confirm the detail that the victim had been found in two parts. That report had come only by accident from a photographer at the Rocky named Iggy Gomez. He had been in the park looking for wild art-the feature photos that fill the pages on a slow news day-when he happened upon the crime scene ahead of any other reporters or photographers. The cops had made the callouts to the coroner's and crime scene offices by landline since they knew the Rocky and the Post monitored their radio frequencies. Gomez took shots of two stretchers being used to remove two body bags. He called the city desk and said the cops were working a two-bagger and from the looks of the size of the bags the victims were probably children.

Later, a cop shop reporter for the Rocky named Van Jackson got a source in the coroner's office to confirm the grim fact that a victim had come into the morgue in two parts. The next morning's story in the Rocky served as the siren call to the media across the country.

My brother and his CAPs team worked as if they felt no obligation to talk to the public at all. Each day, the Denver Police Department media office put out a scant few lines in a press release, announcing that the investigation was continuing and that there had been no arrests.


Excerpted from The Poet by Michael Connelly Copyright © 1997 by Hieronymous, Inc.. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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The Poet 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 222 reviews.
Booklover87 More than 1 year ago
Michael Connelly has become one of my favorite writers. His crime novels are all edge of your seat thrilling. The Poet was no exception. I loved his new character Jack McEvoy and I enjoyed the insightful look inside journalists. Connelly really does keep you guessing. As soon as you think you have it figured out, he unveils another fact that has you questioning what really is going on. I highly recommend this for all Connelly fans and for those who have not read a book of his yet. This is a great one to start with.
McCarthy92 More than 1 year ago
I am reading all of Michael Connelly's books in order, which is the best way to read his novels, and The Poet is his fifth book and first to not have his famous character, Harry Bosch. The Poet is narrated by crime reporter Jack McEvoy, a character just as great as Bosch. I never reveal plot in my reviews but I will say this, each time I read a Connelly novel, I realize why he is my favorite mystery writer. His plots keep me up all night wanting to read more. The Poet is a major highlight in Connelly's career.
SlapShot62 More than 1 year ago
I've been reading Connelly's books in order, obviously the Bosch series primarily. Love his writing and love that series, and almost skipped over The Poet. I'm so glad I bought and read it. Might actually be my favorite Connelly book to date and I've read 8 or 9 of his works thus far. Such a great story, loaded with twists and turns and his characters are very real. In fact, a couple of the characters that we find unlikeable, they come across as intriguing and have the reader wanting to learn more and more about what makes them tick. The plot is superior, and the developments are often quick and shocking.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I lfell in love with Michael Connelly's books after reading The Lincoln Lawyer. I really like the Mickey Haller series but have read all of them and most of the Harry Bosch series. This book was neither and definitely not a disappoinment. So I thought I'd give this book a try and once again, another great book.
ghostrider09 More than 1 year ago
The Poet had me jumping out of my seat...reporter turned investigater Jack McEvoy was shattered when his twin brother committed suicide. His probing into the death sent him to the F.B.I. with proof that his brother was the victim of a serial killer. It's a twisted path to the truth. I am going to be reading more of Connelly's McEvoy series.
miss_dobie More than 1 year ago
Okay, so we all love Harry Bosch. So do I. So what else is new? No Harry Bosch here though. Sorry. But if you haven't read THE POET, you don't know what you're missing. Not all great mysteries require Harry Bosch. They just require Michael Connelly. THE POET is superb. You'll have a very hard time putting it down once you start it. And the ending is a big surprise. Check it out - you'll be glad you did.
heyjude444 More than 1 year ago
I am having a hard time getting into this one. I usually love Michael Connelly, but this is not my favorite of his. About halfway through, so hopefully it will pick up...
Anonymous 8 months ago
This was a perfect book. Unfortunately, my busy schedule kept me from reading non-stop but I loved it. I can't wait to continue reading the Bosch series and other novels to read more of Michael Connelly's genius.
Carstairs38 More than 1 year ago
Jack is on the Trail of a Well Disguised Serial Killer Even before I started reading any of Michael Connelly’s books, I’d heard lots of references to his book The Poet, so when I discovered it was next in line for me to read, I was looking forward to seeing what it was all about. Maybe my expectations were too high, but I didn’t find it quite as good as the praise lead me to expect it to be. The book introduces us to Jack McEvoy, a reporter in Denver, Colorado. He’s been a crime reporter for years, but his world is rocked when he finds himself on the other side of the story after his twin brother, Sean, commits suicide. Sean was a cop, and he’d been obsessed with one case, a brutal murder that no one seemed able to solve. Everyone has ruled it a suicide, even the cops. Jack doesn’t quite buy it, but it isn’t until he is researching a story on cop suicide for the paper that he makes a startling discovery. As the facts fall into place, Jack finds himself on an investigation that will take him all over the country and put him in contact with the FBI. But can he learn the truth? I can certainly see why this book is so praised. The plot is ingenious. Even early on when we knew where the book was going, things were set up so well that I was riveted. The way the plot unfolds is absolutely wonderful. I did figure a couple things out early, but it didn’t dampen my enjoyment as I wanted to learn if I was right and how Jack would piece things together. This book is now 20 years old. Maybe that is part of my issue with the story, but I found any of the parts of the story where the characters were trying to profile the villain to be very cliché. Maybe if I had first read it when it came out, I would find it fascinating. But if you have read or watched any profile heavy mystery, you know where things are going. Likewise, the scenes written from the point of view of the killer are equally predictable and slow things down. On the other hand, the characters were all strong. This is the first time that Michael Connelly had written about any of them, but by the end of the book, we’ve gotten to know all the major characters well. Even the minor characters were strong for the page time they had. I listened to the audio version narrated by Buck Schirner. This is the first time I’ve heard a book he’s narrated, and he did great. My only complaint here was the occasional time when they tried to add an effect to the story; it always added too much in my opinion. If you are doing an audio book, just narrate the story, don’t add digital menace or an echo to the voice. It goes without saying since we are dealing with a serial killer that this is definitely darker than my normal cozy stories, and it has the language, sex, and violence you’d expect. Be prepared for that before you pick up this book. Even though I didn’t love it as much as I thought I would, I still enjoyed The Poet. It’s easy to see why some consider this a high point of Michael Connelly’s career.
1dachsmom More than 1 year ago
HIGHLY RECOMMEND!! Don't miss this one. I've read every one of his mysteries and have never been disappointed. Fantastic read!
Lamar Dawson-Stewart More than 1 year ago
I love all of Michael Connelly's books and this one is probably my favourite of the lot. It's a really excellent story and I highly recommend it!
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I'm a Michael Connelly fan. This is the first McEvoy book for me but it want be the last. The story kept me guessing (almost) to the end.
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I just finished the book and i have so many questions. Not good ones. Most have to do with plot continuity. I thought it was a decent read until I got to the end. I think the writer got a little too impressed with himself. Would not recommend.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Great story, but left with a desire to know more about the charactars!
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DorothyFromKansas More than 1 year ago
In the beginning, I didn't even think Michael Connelly wrote this book. It was very, very different from his "Harry" books. But I stuck with it, and it was most enjoyable. Would recommend to all who appreciate Connelly.
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Another good book, different from the bosch series but still very good.
CliffWhoReads More than 1 year ago
The book moves along, maintaining a good level of suspense.  A good work for this genre.
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