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Creator / Michael Connelly

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Michael Connelly (born July 21, 1956, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania) is an American author of detective novels and other crime fiction, notably those featuring LAPD Detective Hieronymus "Harry" Bosch. His books, which have been translated into 35 languages, have garnered him every major award in his genre, such as the Edgar Award, Anthony Award, Macavity Award, Los Angeles Times Best Mystery/Thriller Award, etc. Connelly was the President of the Mystery Writers of America from 2003 to 2004.

His style does not usually involve researching for his books; he says that he prefers to just write, focusing more on his characters than the surroundings. His books often reflect on events happening in the world, like 9/11 and the beating of Rodney King. Most of the events in Harry Bosch's life in his novels are loosely based on events he himself was witnessing or undergoing. Connelly has been releasing novels more or less annually since 1992.

Harry Bosch is Connelly's most frequent protagonist, starring in about two-thirds of his novels. Connelly's second most-used protagonist is ethically dubious defense lawyer Mickey Haller, who has appeared as the protagonist in five Connelly novels. Other POV characters besides Harry Bosch include Los Angeles Times crime reporter Jack McEvoy, LAPD detective Renee Ballard, and FBI profiler Terry McCaleb. Characters in one series pop up in other series quite frequently, as shown below. All of his books are partly or wholly set in Los Angeles, to the extent that the series as a whole is a pretty good guided tour of the city.

Has a regular poker game with a fictional novelist.

The films Blood Work and The Lincoln Lawyer are based on his novels.

A series titled Bosch, based on the Harry Bosch character with Titus Welliver as Bosch, debuted on Amazon in 2014. Connelly is one of the writers for the show, having written or co-written each season premiere as well as most season finales.

Books published by Michael Connelly (in chronological order, with protagonist noted):

  • Miscellaneous short stories:
    • Harry Bosch short stories: "Switchblade", "Red Eye", "A Fine Mist of Blood", "Nighthawks", "Blood Washes Off", "Blue on Black", "The Crooked Man"
    • Mickey Haller short stories: "Burnt Matches", "The Perfect Triangle"
    • Other short stories: "The Safe Man", "The Third Panel", "Short Cut" (for children aged 9-12), "After Midnight"

This author's works include examples of:

  • Bookcase Passage: In short story "Blood Washes Off" the murder weapon (a fireplace poker) is hidden inside a storage closet which is located behind a spring-loaded trick bookcase.
  • Comic-Book Time: Averted, as Harry and everyone else in the Bosch universe age in real time. Michael Connelly admitted in a 2017 interview that he came up with new protagonist Renee Ballard because Harry Bosch, born in 1950, is getting too old for police department derring-do.
  • Continuity Nod:
    • As all Connelly novels are in the same universe, this series is full of them. They go all the way back to the second novel The Black Ice, in which Harry gets a Christmas card from Tehachapi prison—that's where Eleanor Wish is serving time due to the crimes she committed in the first novel, The Black Echo. Every single novel after the first has at least one continuity nod to previous novels.
    • One of the longest-range continuity nods so far is in The Wrong Side of Goodbye, where Harry tells his daughter that he no longer eats Vietnamese food, a fact first established in The Black Echo.
    • Chasing the Dime could have been a stand-alone novel, with its protagonist Henry Pierce being a computer software entrepreneur who does not pop up in any other Connelly book. But just to make clear that it was in the same universe, Connelly makes Pierce's dead sister a victim of The Dollmaker (a serial killer that Harry Bosch investigated and killed), and takes the prosecuting attorney from Angels Flight and makes her Pierce's lawyer.
    • In short story "Red Eye" Harry gets a panic attack in Boston when he has to drive through a tunnel as he leaves the airport, thinking about the tunnels in "his past and his dreams". This is an allusion to Harry's time spent as a "tunnel rat" in Vietnam.
    • In The Brass Verdict, one of the cases Mickey Haller inherits upon the death of Jerry Vincent is that of a woman who was charged with indecent exposure for skinnydipping in a lake. Connelly later wrote about that case in short story "The Perfect Triangle".
    • Fictional film company Archway Studios is mentioned in many Connelly novels, starting with Trunk Music. In short story "The Crooked Man" Harry Bosch investigates the murder of Archway's CEO.note 
    • In The Black Box, O'Toole tries to distract Harry from the Jespersen case by giving him another cold case, a computer hit showing that the same person was a witness to two seemingly unrelated shootings in 1999 and 2006. Harry ignores O'Toole, but he does wind up investigating that case, in short story "A Fine Mist of Blood".
  • Cowboy Cop: Harry Bosch in every damn novel, bending the rules and hiding stuff from his partners and his bosses, but always getting the job done. One of the central dynamics of a Bosch novel is whether his supervisor will be Da Chief who wants to kick Harry out of the police force, or a Reasonable Authority Figure who gives Harry room to operate.
  • Creator Thumbprint. Connelly has some favorite things that he manages to use over and over:
    • Jeep Cherokees are immensely popular in his 'verse
    • By and large if someone can live and/or work in an unusual place, they will (Bosch lives in a cantilever house in the canyon, Mickey Haller works out of his Lincoln, Terry McCaleb lives in a boat, and Renee Ballard is effectively homeless, living in a tent on the beach in Santa Monica)
    • There are lots of restaurants in L.A., but Du-Pars and Musso & Frank come up an awful lot.
    • One of the more amusing ones is the crazy number of people who die either while saying or shortly after saying "Fuck you" to a main character.
    • There are a lot of references to Mulholland Drive and the scenic overlook on Mulholland Drive. Start with The Overlook and the body that's found there at the start of the story, then short story "Muholland Dive", then Trunk Music as that's where Tony Aliso is killed, then The Reversal as Jason Jessup goes there on his late-night cruises...the FBI safehouse where the climax of The Poet takes place is located there. Cassie Black takes prospective sports car buyers on test drives on Mulholland. Mickey Haller has a confrontation with a bad guy at the Fryman Canyon overlook on Mulholland in The Brass Verdict. In The Gods of Guilt Mickey sits on a rock at that very same overlook to watch his daughter at soccer practice in the valley below (they're estranged). In Lost Light Roy Lindell and Harry stop at a Mulholland overlook to have a clandestine meeting about the Marty Gessler case. In The Burning Room Bosch goes to a Mulholland Drive overlook to scope out a suspect's house.
    • Blood from the Mouth. If someone gets shot in a Connelly novel, the person that shot them (usually Harry Bosch) will check for Blood from the Mouth. If Harry (or whoever) sees Blood From the Mouth he'll realize that the person was shot through the lungs and is about to die. If the shooter doesn't see Blood From the Mouth they'll know that the victim will live (this happens in Chasing the Dime).
  • Danger Takes A Back Seat: In "Burnt Matches" Mickey Haller gets into the back seat of his Lincoln and finds a bad guy sitting on the other side with a gun.
  • Downer Beginning:
    • All of the Jack McEvoy novels have downer beginnings. In The Poet, Jack's twin brother Sean has killed himself. In The Scarecrow, his literary career has stalled out after The Poet was a best-seller, and he's gotten laid off from the newspaper. In Fair Warning, his literary career has stalled out again after The Scarecrow was a best-seller, and the website he's writing for is pretty shaky, and he's broken up with Rachel Walling.
    • The Gods of Guilt opens by revealing Haller's campaign for DA was blown up after some guy that he got off a DUI rap went drunk driving again and killed someone. That same incident has also led to his estrangement from his ex-wife and daughter.
  • Defictionalization: Zig-zagged in-universe; Blood Work, The Lincoln Lawyer and Bosch are revealed to be nonfiction projects in Angels Flight, The Wrong Side of Goodbye and The Late Show respectively.
  • Feeling Their Age: A theme in the later Harry Bosch novels, as Harry keeps running around chasing bad guys even as he ages into his sixties; there are comments about creaky knees and sore hips and how his eyes don't adjust to the dark nearly as quickly as they did when he was younger.
  • Fun with Acronyms: In short story "A Fine Mist Of Blood", Harry Bosch gets a phone call from the Data Evaluations and Theory squad...the DEATH squad.
  • Idiosyncratic Episode Naming: Zig-zagged. Connelly's first two novels certainly make it appear that he intended to include "Black" in his titles. He drops it after those, however, and only does it once again after (so far) in the 20th-anniversary The Black Box.
  • In-Series Nickname: One of Connelly's absolute favorite tropes. From minor characters (like Lt. Angel "Brick Man" Brockman in The Last Coyote) to major players like Mickey "The Lincoln Lawyer" Haller, sometimes it seems like Harry Bosch is the only character in the 'verse without an in-series nickname.
    • According to Jaye Winston in A Darkness More Than Night, Bosch is called "The Marlboro Man" by some cops who work with him. Since this novel is the first time we ever deal with Bosch without him being the focal character of the narrative, it's the first time such a detail has had a chance to come up. Since he had quit smoking a couple of years before this, it's possible the nickname died off.
    • Then you read The Crossing and find out that the bad guys have, if not nicknamed Harry, at the very least code-named him "The Painter."
    • This gets a bit of a lampshade hung on it in The Poet, where the main character, a crime reporter mentions that cops always have nicknames for each other.
  • In the Style of:
    • Short story "The Safe Man" is a ghost story that deliberately invokes the style of Edgar Allan Poe.
    • Short story "The Crooked Man" is written in the style of Arthur Conan Doyle and his Sherlock Holmes stories. Bosch works with a deputy coroner named "Art Doyle" who has one hell of a Sherlock Scan and says things like "Elementary" and "The game is afoot."
  • Intrepid Reporter: Jack McEvoy, who tends to get hunted by murderers due to his diligence.
  • Leaning on the Fourth Wall: Short story "Nighthawks" has Harry surveilling a woman who goes to a museum in Chicago to visit the painting "Nighthawks". She tells him that she's a writer who uses the painting for inspiration. This is obviously true of Connelly himself.
  • "Nighthawks" Shot: Many references to the painting "Nighthawks" and the theme of loners in the night, starting with The Black Echo where Eleanor Wish has a "Nighthawks" print. In a Connelly short story appropriately called "Nighthawks", a surveillance takes Harry Bosch to the museum in Chicago where the painting hangs, and he regards it.
  • Oddball in the Series:
    • 2005 short story "The Safe Man", originally published anonymously in a fiction anthology before being released under Connelly's name in 2012, is not connected to the Harry Bosch universe. It's subtitled "A Ghost Story" and is also the only piece of Connelly fiction to deal with the supernatural.
    • Another short story, "Cahoots" (included in the collection Mulholland Dive) also is not connected to the Bosch universe. And it is unique in the Connelly canon in that it's a period piece, set in 1932 as Los Angeles was hosting the Olympics.
  • Ponzi:
    • The backstory to short story "A Fine Mist of Blood" explains that murder victim Roy McIntyre was facing trial for running a Ponzi scheme and stealing when he got shot through the head.
    • Short story "Blood Washes Off" involves a murder victim who was running a Ponzi scheme involving gold futures (he had taken $190 million of payments when he only had $30 million in gold).
  • The Profiler: Rachel Walling, Terry McCaleb.
  • Real Person Cameo: Real Life LAPD detectives Rick Jackson and Tim Marcia and real-life lawyers Dan Daly and Roger Mills pop up from time to time as minor characters in Connelly books.
  • Real Time: "Blood Washes Off" is a short story that consists in its entirety of a transcript of a Harry Bosch interview of a murder suspect.
  • Revisiting the Cold Case: A frequent Connelly trope. This is Harry Bosch's job when he returns to the LAPD in The Closers; he's put on the Open-Unsolved cold case unit. That starts a run of five cold cases in seven novels lasting through Harry's final departure from the LAPD in The Burning Room. Even before that, Harry revisits cold cases in The Concrete Blonde (when the apparent reappearance of the Dollmaker forces Harry to consider if he got the wrong guy), Lost Light (when Harry, working as a private investigator, takes up one old cold case and then is hired for another) The Last Coyote (when he goes back thirty-odd years to investigate his mother's murder). After he leaves the LAPD he keeps doing cold cases, in Dark Sacred Night and The Night Fire.
  • Sherlock Scan: Short story "The Crooked Man" is an homage to Sherlock Holmes. Harry, who has a pretty good Sherlock Scan himself, meets a deputy coroner who is able to tell Harry has a girlfriend by his socks and who is able to tell the dead guy drank a particular brand of alcohol by the smell of the air expelled from his lungs.
  • Skinnydipping: Short story "The Perfect Triangle" involves Mickey Haller handling the case of a woman who was arrested for skinnydipping in the ocean.
  • Suspiciously Similar Substitute: Detective Renee Ballard for Detective Harry Bosch. The Harry Bosch universe has characters aging in real time, which means that by the 2010s Harry Bosch, born in 1950, started to get too old for homicide detective adventures. How to fix that? Come up with Detective Ballard, who was orphaned at a young age like Harry Bosch (technically Ballard wasn't an orphan but she had a Missing Mom), has a lack of personal attachments like Bosch, views her job as a "mission" in the way that Bosch does, is a Cowboy Cop just like Bosch, has a Sherlock Scan similar to Bosch's, has an oddball habit like Bosch (Bosch is intensely devoted to jazz music while Ballard is a surfer) and like Bosch has a difficult relationship with LAPD command (Bosch because he's a Cowboy Cop in general, Ballard because she made a sexual harassment complaint against a supervisor).
  • Switching P.O.V.: All three Jack McEvoy novels switch POV back and forth between Jack and one or more villains/murderers. One-off novel Void Moon also ping-pongs back between the protagonist and the villain. The Reversal switches between the two protagonists, Mickey Haller and Harry Bosch, as do all the novels where Harry Bosch and Renee Ballard are co-protagonists.
  • Title Drop: Every single novel mentions the title at some point in the narrative. They often also work as Double Meaning Titles.
  • A True Story in My Universe:
  • Two Lines, No Waiting: Averted in the earlier Connelly novels, but starting with The Drop, increasingly true of later works. The Drop, The Burning Room, The Wrong Side of Goodbye, The Late Show, Two Kinds of Truth, Dark Sacred Night, and The Night Fire all have two or more mystery plot threads which don't intersect.
  • The 'Verse: The Harry Bosch universe, in which every single Connelly book takes place.note 
  • Vigilante Execution:
    • Short story "The Third Panel" centers around a vigilante group by that name that is going around murdering gangsters and drug dealers and meth cooks.
    • In short story "A Fine Mist of Blood" computer cross-referencing soon comes up with one woman as a witness involved in two different murder cases. Harry soon realizes that she is a vigilante killing bad guys.