Re: RARA-AVIS: Michael Connelly

From: michaelconnelly187 (
Date: 21 Mar 2008

I remember that one. Thank you, John.

--- In, John Williams <johnwilliams@...> wrote:
> Just doing a little spring cleaning on the PC and I found this short
> piece about Michael Connelly I wrote when the Poet came out, 1996, I
> think. Nothing very remarkable in my bits, but it provides some
> background for new readers and the man himself has some interesting
> stuff to say, so here you go. It's a phone interview by the way, I've
> never had the pleasure of meeting him in person.
> John
> Michael Connolly (GQ)
> One might be forgiven for thinking that Los Angeles crime fiction is
> stuck in a timewarp. A timewarp where Raymond Chandler is still the
> guv'nor and an endless stream of Philip Marlowe clones still walk those
> mean streets. A timewarp in which even the city's finest contemporary
> writers - James Ellroy and Walter Mosley - are best known for novels
> set back in the forties and fifties.
> Well, Michael Connelly is doing his bit to change all that. His series
> of LA cop novels featuring the exravagantly monikered Harry - short for
> Heironymous, natch - Bosch are as sharp and convincing as they come. But
> then, as Connelly explained to me, his day job gave him something of a
> headstart, "I worked as a crime reporter both in Florida, where I grew
> up, and in LA, where I"ve lived since I was thirty, and that's where I
> got the background for the books."
> Was he not tempted, as so may U.S. crime reporters have been, to turn
> his hand to the immensely popular true crime format, rather than the
> riskier field of fiction? "Well, I was writing true crime all the time
> for the newspaper, and I guess I assumed some day I'd get my hands on a
> really good case which I could turn into a book, but it never happened.
> The first Harry Bosch novel, _The Black Echo_, was loosely based on a
> real case - a bank job in which the perepetrators used tunnels - but it
> was never solved. So I couldn't write a true crime book about that, but
> I could use it as the basis for fiction."
> And so he did. In _The Black Echo_ the tunnellers turn out to be a gang
> of Vietnam Vets who'd acquired their skills the hard way, during the war
> in the tunnels of Cu Chi. And what follows is both a gripping urban
> thriller and a subtle working-out of the legacy of Vietnam on the
> streets of America.
> So was Connelly himself a veteran? "No, the draft cut off the year
> before I would have been eligible. But I went through high school
> thinking it was my destiny to go, so it had an impact on me. And making
> Bosch a veteran was simply a reflection of the high number of
> detectives I knew who were Vietnam vets. Bosch is an amalgam of many
> cops I've known. And he's the opposite of me."
> For his latest novel, _The Poet_, however, Connelly has decided to take
> a break from Bosch, and has instead written an unusually thoughtful and
> unsettling serial killer novel. One that focusses firmly on the role of
> the hunters: "I tried to make the hunt more interesting than the actual
> killer," confirms Connelly, "I didn't want to spend a whole lot of time
> with the killer".
> And perhaps that's what marks out Connelly from the pack. For while, in
> these post-Tarantino times, novelists and screenwriters seem endlessly
> obsessed with creating exotic and charismatic villains, Connelly is
> firmly on the side of the angels.
> "In my time as a crime reporter:" comments Connelly, "I've found the
> cops more interesting than the perpetrators. They have a very tough job
> and they only become well known if they screw up. I think it's kind of a
> noble calling. While I think, in reality, criminals are not that
> interesting. Writers like James Ellroy and Elmore Leonard can create
> these fascinating bad guys, but I don't think there are that many in
> real life."
> Neither may there be all that many cops named Heironymous or serial
> killers, like the Poet, who like to quote from Edgar Alan Poe, but still
> Connelly's combination of a novelist's imagination and a crime
> reporter's fund of inside information, look set to make him one of the
> key names in nineties crime writing.

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