And why he’s the best modern day crime fiction writer!
Now, whenever I read Michael Connelly’s books which feature Harry Bosh, it makes me feel both joyous and sad in equal measure. Joyous, because although the world changes at a rapid pace and nothing lasts forever, however for Michael Connelly’s character Harry Bosh at least, he’s the one enduring thing in my adult life! And sad, because as each time a Connelly book features LAPD (retired) Detective Harry Bosh, he’s a little older (which reminds me of my own mortality) and like our ageing parents, it’s sad to think that one day they won’t be around anymore. Boo!
The latest Connelly books which I binged this week (after a2–3-year hiatus), were ‘The Dark Hours’ (2021) and ‘Desert Star’ (2022), books 4 and 5 in the Rene Ballard series. A series which started off as its own stand-alone Detective series, after Harry Bosh was seemingly too old even for a fictional character. And then, Michael Connelly brought back Bosch by melding both Rene and Harry’s plotlines together in ‘Dark Sacred Night’. And since then, the Rene Ballard series has been a Ballard Bosch series, which has uplifted the experience for Connelly fans!
In The Dark Hours, Rene’s partner slacks off ditching work for a hot weekend, leaving Rene on her own and turning to dependable friend Harry Bosh for his sage advice and as a trusty back-up. In Desert Star, Rene’s Bosh’s boss in the newly re-established Open Unsolved unit, where Bosh has been recruited onto the team as their most experienced investigator; and although Rene is no longer the rogue Detective (instead playing the authoritative character)- but there’s always Harry Bosh there to bend the rules just a little.
And why I think so many people love Michael Connelly’s books, is down to 3 reasons. Firstly, due to the fast pace of his novels (for crime fiction at least), as crime fiction can be o-so slow! Spending hundreds of pages to investigate one single case. But Connelly in the past decade or so, has started to introduce dual investigations which help the pacing of the book, enhancing its readability.
Secondly, why I think people love Connelly’s books, is that the crimes are based in fact and reality. Too often crime fiction is too fictional! Like the big twist at the end (which never happens in reality), or the eventual criminal being a peripheral character which comes out, out of the blue in the final 10 pages of a book (which again doesn’t happen in reality!). But Connelly’s storylines are always totally believable, and when the momentum of the case builds, it builds and ends in a reasonable amount of time (like a real case, after the first domino falls).
And the third reason why people love his books, or perhaps it’s just me, but what I love the most about Michael Connelly’s books, is the fact that the book is embedded in our current reality. You know, some books pick up where the last book left off, therefore perhaps 3 years have passed in real-time, but in the fictional world, the character is still in the same month or season. Therefore, the character never ages, thus the author could effectively pump out books with the same character until the end of time! However, as Bosh lives in our reality, i.e., in The Dark Hours, Los Angeles has just said good-bye to 2020, after a year of COVID-19 and experienced the aftermath of George Floyd’s death- hearing these modern-day references blew my mind! As this was the first time, I’ve heard of a COVID-19 reference in a fictional book, other authors rather pretend that 2020 never happened. And as sad as it is, but what connects me most to the books, is the fact that Harry is growing older as I grow old. So, as Harry made his first appearance in the Dark Hours, I had this great sense of feeling like I was re-connecting with an old friend, like hearing how an old colleague was doing, after not hearing from them in a while. And the odd thing is that Harry seems so real to me! Like someone who is living, breathing, existing on the other side of the world in LA. Perhaps Michael Connelly is Bosh, and Bosh is Michael’s alter ego, so therefore if Michael’s around, then we also know that Harry’s also around (and vice versa). So, long live Michael Connelly!
So, if it’s been a while since you’ve read a Michael Connelly book, I encourage you to pick one up again. Getting back into the Ballard Bosch series, feels like coming home! And no, this isn’t a Qantas advert.