THE POET By Michael Connelly; Little, Brown: 436 pp., $22.95

This guy can write a thriller! In this compulsively readable new entry by the Edgar Award-winning author of the Hieronymus Bosch series of mysteries that includes "Black Ice" and "The Concrete Blonde," Michael Connelly has taken a new tack, taking advantage of his extensive experience as a former police reporter for the Los Angeles Times.

Connelly puts his foot on the gas and doesn't let up for 400 pages. We've got a reporter-hero, McEvoy and top-notch cops going after a killer with literary pretensions, fertile ground for an author with Connelly's background--and he works the turf for everything he's worth. The author roars through the final 100 pages of the book delivering twists, turns and thrills in every paragraph.

The ending is rendered with icy, cold-blooded precision and readers will no doubt close the book hoping for a series of McEvoy mysteries. This guy writes commercial fiction so well, he's going to end up on the "literature" shelves along with Poe if he plays his cards right, and here's one reader who hopes he does.

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