Detective and Crime fiction 3: Michael Connelly

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Michael Connelly is an internationally best-selling American crime fiction writer. He is also prolific. He has an excellent official website, which is the best place to go for more detail about him, his novels, the series order of his Harry Bosch and Mickey Haller books and other details about him and his writing.

His series list and the descriptions of his novels on the site are excellent so I won’t repeat them. He also gives a run down of other major characters and the books they appear in, which is also useful. I’ll merely give some summarised background and talk about my favourites. I have read virtually all of his novels to date. The background information that follows is mainly summarised from the Michael Connelly website.

Two movies and a TV series have been made of Connelly’s Fiction:

1 Blood Work 2002. Director Clint Eastwood. Clint Eastwood, Jeff Daniels, Anjelica Huston. IMDB rating 6.4.

The Lincoln Lawyer 2011. Director Brad Firman. Matthew McConaughey, Maris Tomei, Ryan Phillippe. IMDB rating 7.3.

3 Bosch TV begins in Australia on SBS on 29 July at 9.30 pm for other countries refer to Connelly website.

I haven’t seen Blood Work though I admire Clint Eastwood as an unusual but interesting director. I have seen The Lincoln Lawyer which is quite a reasonable movie. I look forward to Bosch on TV.

Biography

Michael Connelly was born in Philadelphia on 21July, 1956. He moved to Florida when he was 12. He decided to become a writer after discovering the books of Raymond Chandler at university. Once he decided on this direction he majored in journalism and also studied creative writing,

After graduating in 1980, Connelly worked at newspapers in Daytona Beach and Fort Lauderdale, Florida, primarily specialising in the crime beat.  He then landed a job as a crime reporter for the Los Angeles Times (Chandler’s city). After three years Connelly began writing his first novel to feature LAPD Detective Hieronymus Bosch.

All of Connelly’s books are good and worth reading. He gets into his main characters and they grow and continue developing from book to book. Harry Bosch and Michael Halley are both endearing characters in different ways. You want to learn more about them and you do from book to book. Connelly’s crime reporter background help to make the plots in the main believable and compelling. Suspense is always maintained. I find Rachel Walling a less compelling and believable character than others, but that is a personal prejudice.

The Harry Bosch Novels

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Harry Bosch was born in 1950 in Los Angeles named Hieronymus Bosch after the 15th century Dutch artist and nicknamed “Harry.” He became an orphan at 11 when his mother, a prostitute, was murdered. He grew up living in a youth hall and foster homes. He joined the army and did two tours in Vietnam. Harry returned to Los Angeles and joined the LAPD in 1972. He became a detective after five years in patrol.

There are 22 novels in which Harry Bosch appears. Although The Brass Verdict is primarily a Mickey Haller book, Bosch’s role is also central. The Reversal is another Haller and Bosch partnership, as is The Crossing. The Poet is about other main characters; Bosch’s role is only a small one.

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My favourites among the Harry Bosch novels are The Black Echo (1992) possibly because it was the first one I read, The Concrete Blonde (1994), and The Last Coyote (1995) because it reveals much more about Harry’s character and his past. I could name several more but it is merely subjective personal preference. All of them are good. The Poet is a famous serial killer book by Connelly, which despite some melodrama is gripping and suspenseful. Harry Bosch is central in the sequel The Narrows when the Poet reappears.

The Harry Bosch novels are what those who want to break popular fiction into genres call ‘police procedurals’. Because of Connelly’s background the LAPD seems authentic as do the bureaucracy and police politics. However, there is a need to bend ‘procedures’ to the purposes of fiction. Harry is a maverick who bends procedures to suit his purposes and cheats when necessary. Harry Bosch is a driven detective who is tenacious and will pursue an investigation to the detriment of himself, his career and against all odds. He has a heightened moral tenacity. And, in keeping with most fictional detectives never seems to sleep much.

The Mickey Haller Novels

There are six Mickey Haller novels of which I’ve read five, but I’ll be chasing the sixth.

Mickey Haller is Harry Bosch’s half-brother by the way (although they do not learn this immediately) and Terry McCaleb who appears in three novels shares the same surname as Connelly’s wife. None of which is particularly relevant. Other recurring characters are Rachel Walling (an FBI agent), Jack McEvoy a crime reporter and Cassie Black.

Mickey Haller was born in 1965 in Los Angeles to a B-list movie actress from Mexico and the famous criminal defense attorney, J. Michael Haller. He was named after his father, who died when Mickey was five. After law school, he worked in the Public Defenders’ Office for about 3 years. He left and went into private practice as a criminal defence attorney, opening up Michael Haller and Associates.

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The most interesting things about Mickey Haller you learn in the first few chapters of The Lincoln Lawyer. At this stage of his career he operates his business out of the back seat and boot of a Lincoln car. Halley is a bit down on his luck and slightly seedy. For him the law is rarely about guilt or innocence, it is about negotiation and manipulation. Sometimes even about justice. Despite this, Halley is a likeable and endearing character.

Mickey Haller is also driven, tenacious and has his own moral code beneath his cynicism. Lawyers, as with doctors in hospitals are a fertile area for novels, film and TV. The cases and individuals are fascinating though this is a much different part of the law than handled by John Grisham.

I liked the first two: The Lincoln Lawyer (2005) and The Brass Verdict (2008) but mainly because they were the first two, with the novelty factor. The others are just as interesting.

Michael Connelly is an excellent writer who is also consistent. Indeed, more consistent than any other author I can think of, except perhaps John Sandford. There are about 17 Harry Bosch novels that are exclusively about Harry, several crossover books with other characters primarily Mickey Haller. There are six Mickey Haller books and several others. I count around 25 novels in total.

If you haven’t read Connelly, you have plenty of reading for pleasure ahead of you.

Key Words: Michael Connelly, Harry Bosch, Mickey Haller, Rachel Walling, Jack McEvoy, police procedural, Blood Work, The Lincoln Lawyer, The Black Echo, The Concrete Blonde, The Last Coyote, The Poet, The Narrows.

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5 thoughts on “Detective and Crime fiction 3: Michael Connelly

  1. One of my favorite authors, and the Amazon show is as good as any TV show right now. But can you spell his name correctly, please? You alternate between “Connelly” and “Connolly” and I have Jo idea why.

    Liked by 1 person

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