RARA-AVIS: Re: the last of Harry

From: JIM DOHERTY ( jimdohertyjr@yahoo.com)
Date: 01 Apr 2008

Mr. Connelly,

It's past midnight now, and, consequently, technically past the end of Michael Connelly month (though the continuation of ongoing discussions is encouraged). I'm working the midnight watch these days, and have developed a tendency to fall behind the curve whenever topics wax hot and heavy, so I haven't contributed as much this month (or last) as I'd've liked.

Therefore, let me take the time now to make a few points.

First, it's happened in the past that authors have joined us when we've made their work the subject of the month. They've all been gracious and informative, but few have taken as much time to respond so thoughtfully and completely to individual comments and questions as you. I'm sure I speak for everyone on the list when I thank you for the time and trouble you've gone to.

Second, as a cop, I find myself struck, each time I pick up a Harry Bosch novel, at how well you capture, not merely the nuts and bolts of procedural details, but the "been-there-done-that-bought-the-t-shirt" sense of what being a policeman is actually like. Few non-cops manage to capture that as well as you, and, for the matter of that, a few actual cops who write police fiction manage to miss it, too.

One thing that particularly resonates with me is how poor a fit Harry is in the bureaucracy of a big-city police force. A friend of mine who is a particular admirer of Marine ace "Pappy" Boyington once told me that Boyington was a great warrior, but a lousy soldier, because he just didn't have the personality to fit easily into a military structure. The problem he had was that, as a born warrior, he had no place else to ply his trade except the military.

For different reasons, Harry might be described as someone who is a great homicide detective, but a lousy policeman, at least in the sense of comfortably fitting into a law enforcement bureacracy. But, as with Boyington, as one born to solve murders and catch murderers, the only place he can ply his trade is a police force.

You mention Chandler as one of your models, and it's occurred to me that Harry is the kind of cop Marlowe might have been if he'd stayed in law enforcement instead of hanging out a private shingle, great at the actual job of investigating crimes, but too much his own man to fit well into a hidebound bureaucratic structure, and continually in trouble because of that.

Finally, getting back to the prior discussion of Harry's little girl eventually taking up the crusade, it occurs to me that you may have more time than you realize. I double-checked after you brought up
"Jigaw" St. John. He was actually 75 by the time he finally pulled the pin in 1993 (and he was posthumously recalled from retirement after his death two years later, so that he could go to his grave as an active-duty LAPD detective, so in a sense, he was 77 when he retired for good). Given that Harry, currently in his late 50's, is a comparative kid next to Jigsaw John, he could continue packing a shield for another 15 years or more, by which time his daughter would be in her early 20's, just old enough to apply for a cop job.

In the meantime, maybe you could spin off a series of juvenile or YA mysteries, with Harry's kid as a sort of Nancy Drew-ish cop in training. (Just kidding).

Thanks again.


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