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Connelly's Harry Bosch
February 21, 2014 - Jodelle Greiner
I’m wild about Harry — and Michael Connelly.
If you want to meet Hieronymus “Harry” Bosch, start with “The Black Echo” from 1992, the first book in Connelly’s award-winning series.
Harry is a Los Angeles homicide detective, a former foster kid, Vietnam veteran “tunnel rat”, and a guy who rubs a lot of people — including some of his friends — the wrong way. That’s because Harry has his own way of doing things and it’s usually not by the department’s book. The most important thing for Harry is not following the rules, but securing justice for the people who cross his path after their lives have been taken from them. As he tells one of his officer partners, “Everybody counts, or nobody counts.”
Harry has his faults, but he’s tenacious and inventive; he has to be to out-smart the criminals he’s trying to catch. He’s not always likable, but the reader understands Harry has his reasons for reacting the way he does and taking the chances he takes, because Connelly does a good job of drawing the character.
Connelly does this in a myriad of ways, starting with having Harry’s mom name him after a 15th Century Dutch painter, one known for complex and disturbing images — that sums up a lot of Harry’s character right there.
One of the reasons I like Connelly’s writing is he’s a former journalist, but professional backgrounds aside, he’s a good writer. He was a crime reporter in L.A., so he’s covered some murders and spent some time at the cop shop, which lends some authenticity to the cases. Connelly has a way of incorporating procedures and information into the storyline in a natural way, as if it’s part of the case, to educate the reader. Even though Harry is a lone wolf, Connelly effortlessly moves between Harry’s professional and personal lives, even sometimes overlapping the two, as when he has Harry work his mother’s cold-case murder in “The Last Coyote.”
Connnelly is one of those rare writers who can reinvent his character with each novel, but still keep the essence of the personality the same so the reader feels they know the character, they’re just getting to know him better. That’s not easy to do when you’ve written 17 novels with the same character in the lead, the latest of which is “The Burning Room,” which will come out in November 2014.
Along the way, Connelly has introduced characters into Harry’s world and in some cases, has given them their own novels. Sometimes these are stand-alone novels, sometimes Harry makes a guest appearance, and sometimes Harry is a major player. These novels fit into the timeline of Harry’s books and have information about him, so they should be read in sequence to keep up with Harry’s story.
Ultimately, it’s the flow of Connelly’s work that impresses me the most; he stirs together complicated murder mysteries liberally sprinkled with multi-faceted characters on both sides of the law and winds up with a smooth cocktail.
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