Bosch Basics

Unless you’ve been living under a rock or just don’t read crime fiction, you’re probably familiar with Michael Connelly and his first series character, Hieronymous “Harry” Bosch. Bosch is a long-suffering LAPD detective, a man who doesn’t always play well with others because of his fierce code of conduct, his quick temper, and his somewhat impulsive methods in solving crimes. Working on the LAPD, Harry’s got to struggle with red tape, grubbing careerists, and outright corruption almost every time he tries to solve a crime.

The consistent quality of this series makes it one of my favorites to suggest to crime fiction neophytes at the library. The publication of The Drop in 2011 marked Harry’s 16th outing, and he’s getting very near retirement. It’s a series best read in order, as the events of Harry’s personal life are often of as much interest as those in his cases. If you’re like me and you find entry into a series this long intimidating, or if you’re considering skipping around, I recommend two books that are required preliminaries to understand Harry’s character.

First, of course, start at the beginning with The Black Echo. Not only is it his first case, but it explores a key part of Harry’s personality. The murder victim here served, as did Harry, as a tunnel rat during the Vietnam War, a man who had to crawl into underground labyrinths where claustrophobic run-ins with the enemy or booby traps were a constant possibility. The experience contributes to the post-traumatic stress which makes it difficult for Harry to form relationships or work well with others. There’s a murder, a bank caper, the introduction of FBI agent Eleanor Wish, and Connelly’s signature L.A. settings as well in this fine series opener.

The second book to highlight is Bosch’s fourth outing The Last Coyote. It reveals the other key piece of Bosch’s personal mythology: the murder of his prostitute mother. She was a call girl, but she took good care of Harry until the state sent him into many years of neglect in the foster system. Shortly after mother and son were split, she was murdered, and when Harry is suspended for assaulting a clueless superior, he decides it’s finally time for him to take a personal look at a case left cold since 1961. His encounters with the past, his sessions with a police psychologist, his ongoing battle with internal affairs, and even his attempts to renovate his earthquake damaged home in the Hollywood hills do much to illuminate the man that is Bosch. This is the book that fully explains Bosch’s anger at institutional neglect and his personal credo, “Everybody counts.”

Michael Connelly is a veteran with more tricks in his bag than just Harry Bosch. As such, book groups might enjoy sampling works from throughout his career in a meeting. Try The Poet, which pits Denver crime reporter Jack McEvoy against a serial killer who he believes killed his cop brother. Make sure someone reports on Mickey Haller, the defense attorney with somewhat unusual working methods. He’s a man with sleazy ethics, but in the first book of the series, The Lincoln Lawyer, he’s forced to confront the cost of his behaviors. Connelly veterans will enjoy a double dose of fun with The Reversal, which features both Bosch and Haller.



About the Author:

Neil Hollands is an Adult Services Librarian at Williamsburg Regional Library in Virginia, where he specializes in readers’ advisory and collection development. He is the author of Read On . . . Fantasy Fiction (2007) and Fellowship in a Ring: a Guide for Science Fiction and Fantasy Book Groups (2009).

3 Comments on "Bosch Basics"

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  1.' Elaine says:

    All Michael Connelly books are excellent! Have read almost all of them!


    I have read them ALL. The earlier ones are much better than the later ones. And stick to the Harry Bosch ones, they are better than the Mickey Haller series.

  3.' Shirley says:

    Harry Bosch and Mickey Haller are just GREAT!
    However, Harry Bosch is much better when read by Lou Cariou. I’m an audiobook listener as I sometimes have visual problems which hinders reading.

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