RARA-AVIS: Connelly/Bosch

From: Carrie Pruett ( pruettc@hotmail.com)
Date: 30 Oct 2001

Mario writes:

>[Michael Connelly's ]books are long mainly because his plots are
>devilishly complicated (excessively so, sometimes). <snip>
>At one
>point, more precisely in The Last Coyote, he seemed to give
>Harry Bosch more play time than he deserves (to me, he's
>not an interesting character) but that's the exception.

What do you find uninteresting about Bosch? I haven't read all of his books, but I've found the plots of the ones I have read deceptively simple. There are usually a lot of red herrings to clear away, but then the answer seems to be staring you in the face. I think he does a really nice job of turning characters in on themselves - they're not exactly what you think and then you get satisfied with what you think they are and then he takes it one step further (in principle it's what Brigid O'Shaughnessy tries to pull on Spade though I don't think he ever really buys it). This can happen over the course of several books, as in Bosch's relationship with Lieutenant Pounds, and later with Chastaine.

The converse of Connelly's disguised simplicity would be Ellroy. I've only read one Ellroy book (LA Confidential) but the striking thing to me about that particular book is that nothing is a red herring. The plot is ultimately quite brilliant, but the book left me cold because everything seemed so calculated. It's too perfect, none of the messiness of life. I also found his characters cartoonish - bloated and skeletal at the same time, if that makes any sense. Ellroy inundates us with backstory, yet the characters still seem insubstantial in some fundamental way. They're more like grotesque neurosis-driven robots than human beings.

I do agree with the comment (Juri, I think it was?) that character is often best revealed through action. I don't necessarily think that an excess of contemplation makes characters better - witness my preference of the earlier Elvis Cole books to LA Requiem, or Pelecanos's "A Firing Offense" to "Shame the Devil." In both cases, I like the later book a good deal, but they both
(LAR particularly) threaten to get weighed down with contemplation. They don't necessarily tell me more than the earlier book, where the characters are just "doing."


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This archive was generated by hypermail 2b29 : 30 Oct 2001 EST