Follow TV Tropes


Literature / Trunk Music

Go To
Trunk Music is a 1997 detective novel by Michael Connelly, featuring LAPD detective Harry Bosch.

Bosch investigates the death of a man whose corpse is found in the trunk of a Rolls Royce. The corpse turns out to be Tony Aliso, a producer of ultra-cheap low-grade nudie flicks. His wife Veronica isn't a tiny bit upset when her serial adulterer husband ends up dead, but the investigation soon focuses on organized crime. Bosch and his partners discover that Aliso's cheap little production company was a front for The Mafia, laundering mob money by passing it off as film production budgets. Bosch's investigation leads into a tangled conspiracy. While all this is happening, he runs into his ex-girlfriend, former FBI agent Eleanor Wish.

Provides some plot points and characters for season 2 of Bosch, but several significant changes were made in the adaptation.


This novel contains examples of:

  • Arc Words: Harry is "following his mission once again."
  • Blood from the Mouth: When Bosch sees frothy bubbles of blood coming from Veronica's mouth he knows that "her lungs had been shredded."
  • Briefcase Full of Money: Bosch's investigation eventually reveals that the briefcase Aliso took back from Las Vegas, the one which wasn't recovered with his body, contained $480,000 of mob money.
  • The Bus Came Back: Five books after Bosch turned Eleanor Wish in at the end of The Black Echo, he meets her again. After serving her prison sentence Eleanor has gotten a job as a Las Vegas casino poker player.
  • Call-Back: We get more details (e.g., the name of the actor who played Bosch) about the in-universe mini-series we first heard about in The Black Echo which gave Bosch the money he used to buy his Hollywood Hills home.
    • And, of course, a bunch related to Eleanor Wish.
  • Chekhov's Gunman: Powers the beat cop finds the body in the opening scene and is pretty much forgotten about afterwards, until he's revealed as the murderer.
  • Contrived Coincidence: Two, almost working as Bookends:
    • Entirely by chance, while on an investigation, Bosch runs across old girlfriend Eleanor Wish in Las Vegas.
    • At the end, after spending much of the novel looking for a particular Las Vegas stripper and not finding her, Bosch finally encounters her on a random beach in Hawaii, while he's on his honeymoon, after the case has been closed.
  • Cowboy Cop: Bosch, as usual, but this time it's actually invoked by Edgar:
    "This is some cowboy shit, Harry."
  • Cuffs Off, Rub Wrists:
    • Luke Goshen does this when he's uncuffed while Harry is interrogating him.
    • Then the bad guy rubs his wrists after overpowering Bosch and Edgar and forcing them at gunpoint to give him the handcuff keys.
  • Dirty Cop: The patrolman who found the body was part of the murder plot.
  • Double Meaning: The TNA of TNA Productions is both the dead man's initials and a description of their oeuvre.
  • Fair Play Whodunit: Connelly's style throughout his writing career. This one contains a giant hit which is obvious upon a re-reading. Bosch and his partners comment about how they know Veronica must have had a male partner, due to the large shoe print. The very next paragraph has Officer Powers, who has not been mentioned since the first chapter, pop up again (it's his beat).
  • Fanservice: The whole point of TNA Productions, nudie films.
    • Bosch watches Veronica Aliso's nude scenes "with a voyeuristic fascination."
    • Later, even Edgar admits that he'd like to watch the video, provided that "she get[s] naked in it".
  • First-Name Basis: Lt. Billets tells Bosch that he can call her Grace, and reminds him of it later.
  • Foreshadowing: Upon arriving in Las Vegas, Bosch thinks how people who run away from Los Angeles often wind up in there. Later, he crosses paths with Eleanor Wish, who certainly has nothing left for her in L.A.
    • On a longer scale, Bosch plays along with Powers while at the bottom of the hill after catching him, because he knows it will be a pain to get him up the hill if he's cuffed. In Echo Park, Reynard Waits uses the same logic to get uncuffed during a field trip to a burial site, facilitating his escape.
  • Girl of the Week: What Bosch's realization about his feelings for Eleanor instantly turn every other woman he has been with since the series started into.
    "Before the previous night, he had not seen her in five years, but she had never been far from his deepest thoughts, even when he had been with other women. There had always been a voice back there that whispered to him that Eleanor Wish was the one. She was the match."
  • Groin Attack: Bosch kicks a Mook square in the nuts.
  • Guns Akimbo: Powers has a gun in each hand when he comes leaping out of the car to get Veronica.
  • Handy Cuffs: Officer Powers has his handcuffs moved to the front during a break in his interrogation so that he can relieve himself. He takes advantage of this to make his escape from Bosch and Edgar.
  • He's Back: In-universe, Harry is just returning to the Hollywood division homicide table after serving a temporary demotion to investigating burglaries.
    • On a meta level, Connelly returns to his bread-and-butter main character after having considered leaving him after the events of The Last Coyote.
    • Also on a meta level, Dick Hill returns as the narrator of the audiobooks, after The Poet was narrated by Buck Schirner.
  • The Infiltration: One of Bosch's suspects turns out to be an FBI agent doing this, much to Harry's embarrassment.
  • Internal Affairs: Bosch's worst enemy. In this novel IAD gets very interested in Bosch after his murder suspect is revealed to be both an FBI agent and definitely innocent.
  • Jerkass Has a Point: Said almost verbatim by Harry to Billets in explaining why Powers said he opened the trunk instead of waiting for the detectives.
  • Just for Pun: TNA Productions.
  • Last-Name Basis: Used to great effect to put a Las Vegas metro cop in his place:
    Bosch: You know, Iverson, I don't even know your first name.
    Iverson: It's John, but people call me Ivy.
    Bosch: Well, Iverson....
  • The Last Title: The Brazilian title translates as "The Last Bluff".
  • Law of Conservation of Detail: When the narrative recounts Powers asking to go to the bathroom, and Bosch and Edgar taking him, it's not hard to guess that bad stuff is going to happen.
  • The Mafia: Trunk Music is the only Connelly novel which involves the Mafia as bad guys. The "Chicago Outfit" is connected to Tony Aliso.
    • They are also players in the goings-on in Void Moon, but it turns out in the end, they're actually among the victims of that scheme.
    • The guys who run the prostitution website in Chasing the Dime are said to be mobbed up, but that is the word of an Unreliable Expositor, and therefore debatable.
  • My Rule-Fu Is Stronger Than Yours: How Bosch sticks it Chastain's IAD investigation into him for associating with a convicted felon.
    "You better get your book out and read the bottom line there, pal. The exception."
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero!: In-universe, how Harry feels toward himself after inadvertently getting Eleanor involved with the Las Vegas investigation and thereby undercutting all she had built up for herself in starting over.
  • Nighthawks Shot: In The Black Echo, Harry Bosch's girlfriend, FBI agent Eleanor Wish, has a framed print of Nighthawks. They commisserate on how they've found each other, two loners together, with Eleanor even calling the two of them "a couple of nighthawks." When Bosch meets her again after several years apart in Trunk Music, she still has the Nighthawks print, and Bosch wonders, after years of separation between them, if he is actually the man alone in the painting.
  • No Name Given: For the chief of police.
  • Obfuscating Stupidity: When they catch Powers, Edgar holsters his weapon almost immediately. Bosch legitimately does not know if his partner was playing this trope straight, or the other thing was at work. Which the reader believes will likely come down to their opinion of Edgar in general.
  • One True Love: Bosch realizes that Eleanor is his. Eventually, this will get rolled into the "single-bullet theory" he was introduced to in the previous Bosch novel, though there he thought it was Jasmine.
  • Passed-Over Promotion: Powers gripes about this in direct connection to Kiz Rider's Twofer Token Minority status.
  • Pop-Cultural Osmosis Failure: Bosch, despite being exactly the right age to know Eric Clapton's work inside out, is a jazz aficionado, so we get this exchange:
    Bosch: I ... got the name of a woman I think he was seeing over there. Layla.
    Billets: Layla? Like that song?
    Bosch: I guess.
    • Ironically, later we learn that Bosch is familiar with the considerably more esoteric "Lawyers, Guns and Money" by Warren Zevon.
  • Professional Gambler: Eleanor Wish.
  • Punk in the Trunk: The plot kicks off when Harry is called to the scene of a murder. A dead guy in fancy clothes has been found stuffed in the trunk of a limo.
  • Put on a Bus: Despite some strong indications that Bosch had found his One True Love in his previous appearance, she's only teased at here, having become a Girl of the Week. (The teasing comes in the form of Bosch saying early on that he's been "doing some painting," leaving the savvy reader to think he's still with Jasmine, who was a painter, but later on it turns out, no, he's just been painting his newly re-built house.) All of this is to free him up to resume his relationship with Eleanor Wish then the opportunity arises.
  • Rape Is a Special Kind of Evil: Comes up twice, one more subtle than the other:
    • After rescuing Eleanor from the Mafia safe house, Harry asks if they hurt her ... then asks specifically if they raped her.
    • While on desk duty, Cowboy Cop Vietnam vet homicide detective Harry Bosch greets a rape victim:
      "Rape victims were the people who evoked the most sadness in Bosch. He knew he wouldn't be able to last a month on a rape squad. Every victim he had ever scene had that stare. It was a sign that all things in their lives were different now and forever. They would never get back to what they had before."
  • Real Person Cameo: Bosch name-checks Jim Newton and Stan Chambers while threatening Carbone
  • Reasonable Authority Figure: Lt. Grace Billets, Bosch's new CO. He is pleasantly surprised with her flexibility, especially when she decides to keep the Aliso case rather than handing it over to OCID. He is even more pleasantly surprised when Billets agrees to let Bosch keep working the case when the FBI takes it over.
  • Rebuilt Set: What happened to Bosch's house between his previous appearance and this one. The house was wrecked in the Northridge earthquake, but Harry had been living in it anyway, until he pissed off an inspector who apparently finally got the house demolished. This actually resolves what would be a Series Continuity Error for later novels, when Bosch's house, which previously had had only one bedroom, suddenly has two.
  • Red Herring: After Eleanor tells Bosch about a conversation she overheard, Bosch realizes that the whole "trunk music" Mafia angle is a red herring and that the murder didn't actually involve the Mafia at all.
  • Ripped from the Headlines: Some significant after-effects of the O.J. Simpson murder case come up, whose verdict came in between the last Bosch novel and this one. Relevant in that Bosch works for the L.A.P.D., whereas the intervening novel dealt with characters who mostly had no L.A. ties (until the end of the story). Made even more apparent by the plot point of whether or not the murder weapon was planted.
  • Three-Way Sex: When the Las Vegas cops come to get Luke Goshen, he's in bed with two strippers.
  • Title Drop: An officer from OCID calls the murder "trunk music" and tells Bosch that such is Chicago mafia slang for a dead Punk in the Trunk.
  • Traumatic Haircut: Bosch enters the interview room to find Luke Goshen leaning back in his chair and relaxing—the gigantic Goshen has ripped out the metal ring hooking his handcuffs to the table. Goshen happens to have a long ponytail. An angry Bosch whips out a knife and hacks off Goshen's ponytail.
  • Twofer Token Minority: Bosch thinks his new partner Kiz Rider's "double minority status" (black, female) means she'll soon be climbing the latter at the LAPD, although he also notes that she deserves it because she's a good detective.
    • Turns out, she's also a lesbian.
  • Unspoken Plan Guarantee: Once he realizes Veronica's in on the crime, Bosch's plan unfolds before us without any explanation, so naturally, it goes off without a hitch.
  • Webcomic Time: Averted. We're told that it has been "more than five years" since Bosch and Eleanor were last together, which means that the series, despite a shorter-than-real-time gap between the first two novels, has now spread back out to real time.
  • Wedding Day: After the criminal plottings have all been resolved, Bosch has one last thing to do in Vegas. But this trope and absolutely every other trope having to do with the subject are averted. We see Bosch ask Eleanor if she's ready, then we're back in L.A. with Bosch marching into Parker Center to slam the brakes on Chastain's now-moot IAD investigation. Chastain tries to make it sound like a Marriage of Convenience, but Bosch shuts him down with the Power of Love.
  • Who Watches the Watchmen?: Alluded to: Internal Affairs hatchet man John Chastain tells Bosch that he (Chastain) polices the police, leading Bosch to parry with "Who polices the police who police the police?"
  • Wretched Hive: Vegas, of course.
    "No matter how they tried to dress her up with neon and family entertainment, she was still a whore."
  • You Can Leave Your Hat On: Several scenes in a Las Vegas strip club.
  • Your Mom: During an interrogation.
    Bosch: So, where were you Friday night?
    Goshen: Fuckin' your mother.
    Bosch: She's dead.
    Goshen: I know. It wasn't very good.


Example of: