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Your Sledgehammer
May 10, 2010

Don`t fall asleep, you gotta write for THUNDERDOME

Connelly has garnered comparisons to classic authors like Raymond Chandler, and for good reason. His crime/detective novels are consistently entertaining, mostly believable (there are only a couple of reveals in all of his writing that have rubbed me the wrong way), and best of all, his characters are complex and realistic. Set against the beautiful but morally vacuous backdrop of LA, nearly every book in the series tells a totally self-contained crime story, but taken together, they are a rich tapestry that shows some really interesting character development and allows for a considerable degree of crossover between the various characters he has written. I got started a little over a year ago and now find myself totally hooked - I usually burn through a couple of them in less than a month. The mysteries themselves are pretty great but what really keeps me coming back are the characters:


Harry Bosch

A Vietnam vet turned LA detective. His troubled past (he is the son of a prostitute and was a foster child) gives him a special connection to many of the murder victims that he fights for. When we first find him, he is a detective in the Hollywood Division, but his career takes a few twists and turns as the series progresses. His brash methods often get him in trouble with the administrative types in the department, but I feel that he softens considerably as the series develops. This is Connelly's main character and the one he started with. He's been writing about this character for over 20 years now.

Appearances:

The Black Echo (1992)
The Black Ice (1993)
The Concrete Blonde (1994)
The Last Coyote (1995)
Trunk Music (1997)
Angels Flight (1999)
A Darkness More Than Night (2001)
City Of Bones (2002)
Lost Light (2003)
The Narrows (2004)
The Closers (2005)
Echo Park (2006)
The Overlook (2007)
The Brass Verdict (2008)
Nine Dragons (2009)
The Reversal (2010)
The Fifth Witness (2011) (one page brief appearance)
The Drop (2011)
The Black Box (2012)
The Gods of Guilt (2013) (one page brief appearance)
The Burning Room (November 2014)


Mickey Haller

A criminal defense attorney and Bosch's half-brother. He starts off pretty slimy and doesn't much care whether or not his clients are guilty or innocent, as it doesn't really change his job any. Of course, when we first meet him, he gets involved in a case which changes his perspective quite a bit. I'm about halfway through the first book with Haller in it, so that's about all I can say about him so far.

Appearances:

The Lincoln Lawyer (2005)
The Brass Verdict (2008)
Nine Dragons (2009) (small part)
The Reversal (2010)
The Fifth Witness (2011)
The Gods of Guilt (2013)


Rachel Walling

A tough and capable FBI agent in the Behavioral Sciences Division who specializes in the study of serial offenders. She's got an interesting past that I won't spoil here and she's no slouch with a gun, either. She's never been the full-on main character of any of Connelly's novels (although she plays a very substantial role in a few), and it's something that I hope Connelly rectifies in the future; I'd love to see her in action by herself.

Appearances:

The Poet (1996)
The Narrows (2004)
Echo Park (2006)
The Overlook (2007)
The Scarecrow (2009)
The Reversal (2010) (small part)
The Black Box (2012) (small part)


Terry McCaleb

An FBI criminal profiler who is forced to retire after a heart transplant. After the sister of the woman whose heart he received shows up asking him to investigate her sister's murder, the reason he got the heart, he gets back into the game. He hasn't shown up often in Connelly's novels, but when he does it is always a treat, as his retired/outsider status and his medical condition often means he has to play things much differently than someone like Bosch.

Appearances:

Blood Work (1998)
A Darkness More Than Night (2001)
The Narrows (2004)


Jack McEvoy

A newspaper reporter who covers murders. After his policeman brother commits suicide, his investigations lead him to cross swords with the likes of the FBI and serial killers. Probably my least favorite of Connelly's characters (he strikes me as somewhat of a whiner), but a nice change of pace from the others every now and again.

Appearances:

The Poet (1996)
A Darkness More Than Night (2001) (small part)
The Brass Verdict (2008) (small part)
The Scarecrow (2009)


Cassie Black

A former Vegas casino thief who does some time in the tank and tries to go straight when she gets out. Of course, that'd make for a boring story, so she quickly finds herself caught up in another Vegas caper. The main novel she appears in is one of my favorites of his and I really hope Connelly writes about her again soon; despite her status on the other side of the law, she's a really sympathetic character and one of the more cunning that Connelly has written.

Appearances:

Void Moon (2000)
The Narrows (2004) (small part, using an alias)


There's also another novel, Chasing the Dime, that is about a computer entrepreneur who gets caught up with criminals. I haven't read it yet, but from what I understand, it has pretty much no crossover with anything else that Connelly has written. All of Connelly's novels are contemporary to their publishing date, and you'll occasionally find references to real events if they are relevant to the story (LA earthquakes, the OJ Simpson trial, 9/11, etc). There have also been a couple of movies released that are based on some of Connelly's books, and Amazon is currently developing a Harry Bosch TV series. I haven't delved into any of these in an effort not to spoil myself, and also because movies/TV rarely live up to the books they are based on, in my experience.


Where should I start?

The Black Echo is not only the most logical starting point, it's also one of Connelly's best novels. Most of the stories are pretty much self-contained (except The Narrows, which is a direct sequel to The Poet), but I highly recommend reading them in published order. I started off just intending to read the Bosch series, but once I got to A Darkness More than Night, I realized I was missing out on a lot of back story and began to fill in the gaps with the other characters.


To start off discussion for those of us that have read some of Connelly's stuff, a couple of questions. Favorite Connelly novel? And of course, worst solution/reveal?

Tough call on my fave so far, but I've got to say The Last Coyote. We learn so much about Harry's past, which is nice, but the thing I like most of all is how Harry starts the novel in a pretty dark place. Harry's story to me is fundamentally one of redemption, and it's really interesting to see him fight his way out of a tough spot like the one he finds himself in at the beginning of the book.

Worst reveal for me is easily the one at the end of The Concrete Blonde. Not only is it pretty much out of left field, but it's also monumentally stupid. Shame considering that The Concrete Blonde is pretty great up to that point. Connelly doesn't cheat - all the clues match up - but it's so dumb that it almost made me angry.


A quick note about spoilers: let's try to stay away from them to begin with - open spoilers, anyway (spoiler tags are always fine). Hopefully this thread will encourage some new readers, and I myself have only read up to halfway through The Lincoln Lawyer. If, as the thread wears on, many of the folks involved in the discussion have read a lot of Connelly, maybe we can move more towards open spoilers, but let's keep it spoiler-free for now. Thanks!

Your Sledgehammer fucked around with this message at 06:47 on May 11, 2014

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Mr. Mambold
Feb 13, 2011

Aha. Nice post.





I would also recommend going chronologically. I read most of these 8-10 years ago and was impressed at how Connelly develops Bosch's character with each story, how he ages and evolves over the course of the series. Bosch does not pop up full-blown in the 1st book, and one of the hooks for me was how he channels his own conflict into who/what he is. I also get a kick out of checking out the jazz players he likes, a little to Mr. Connelly for that. I am a bit surprised that more of Connelly's whodunnits have not been translated to movies.

On that note, I've been pretty uniformly disappointed that the books don't translate well to audio for me. Maybe it's my own quirk that I am not bothered by reading brutal fiction details nearly as much as listening to a reader describe them (over my car stereo)

Hieronymous Alloy
Jan 30, 2009


Why! Why!! Why must you refuse to accept that Dr. Hieronymous Alloy's Genetically Enhanced Cream Corn Is Superior to the Leading Brand on the Market!?!



Morbid Hound

When are these novels set? Are they historicals or set contemporaneously to the writing?

I'm asking because I have a soft spot for detective series that are set in (year written). There are a few of the out there -- the Nero Wolfe books, the Travis McGee books -- and they're always neat to read because if the setting is done well enough you can watch the locale change over time. Is that something that happens here or is it just sortof Platonic Ideal of LA as the setting?

Your Sledgehammer
May 10, 2010

Don`t fall asleep, you gotta write for THUNDERDOME

Hieronymous Alloy posted:

Are they historicals or set contemporaneously to the writing?

They are set contemporaneously to the writing. Connelly's LA does change over time in a subtle way, and "real life" events shape the narrative from time to time. For example, the 94 LA quake damages Harry Bosch's home. Later on in Harry's life, he ends up working some cold cases, and we get some descriptions of how things have changed since the crime. Vegas features occasionally as a setting in Connelly's novels, and there is some pretty heavy description of how Vegas has changed culturally as we revisit it in the books, from "Sin City," to marketed as a place for the whole family, and then back to "Sin City" again.

Hieronymous Alloy
Jan 30, 2009


Why! Why!! Why must you refuse to accept that Dr. Hieronymous Alloy's Genetically Enhanced Cream Corn Is Superior to the Leading Brand on the Market!?!



Morbid Hound

Your Sledgehammer posted:

They are set contemporaneously to the writing. Connelly's LA does change over time in a subtle way, and "real life" events shape the narrative from time to time. For example, the 94 LA quake damages Harry Bosch's home. Later on in Harry's life, he ends up working some cold cases, and we get some descriptions of how things have changed since the crime. Vegas features occasionally as a setting in Connelly's novels, and there is some pretty heavy description of how Vegas has changed culturally as we revisit it in the books, from "Sin City," to marketed as a place for the whole family, and then back to "Sin City" again.

Okay then! I am about to spend a lot of money on my kindle!

NastyPBears
May 2, 2003

Robots don't say "ye"

Your Sledgehammer posted:

They are set contemporaneously to the writing. Connelly's LA does change over time in a subtle way, and "real life" events shape the narrative from time to time. For example, the 94 LA quake damages Harry Bosch's home. Later on in Harry's life, he ends up working some cold cases, and we get some descriptions of how things have changed since the crime. Vegas features occasionally as a setting in Connelly's novels, and there is some pretty heavy description of how Vegas has changed culturally as we revisit it in the books, from "Sin City," to marketed as a place for the whole family, and then back to "Sin City" again.

Have you ever read any James Lee Burke? Your description of what he does with LA sounds similar to Burke's Louisiana.

I've just ordered The Black Echo anyway, Amazon was giving me a slight Dave Robicheaux vibe about Harry Bosch...

Your Sledgehammer
May 10, 2010

Don`t fall asleep, you gotta write for THUNDERDOME

Hieronymous Alloy posted:

Okay then! I am about to spend a lot of money on my kindle!

NastyPBears posted:

I've just ordered The Black Echo anyway, Amazon was giving me a slight Dave Robicheaux vibe about Harry Bosch...

Hope y'all enjoy! I'll be interested to hear your take on The Black Echo, it's been a while since I've read it.

NastyPBears posted:

Have you ever read any James Lee Burke? Your description of what he does with LA sounds similar to Burke's Louisiana.

Nope, but I looked him up on Wikipedia this afternoon and I'm intrigued, the Robicheaux books sound right up my alley. I've been to Louisiana a couple of times and have some friends from there, and the idea of a detective series set there opens a whole lot of interesting possibilities. I think I may give the Dresden Files series a shot once I'm all caught up on Connelly, but I have a feeling Burke will be next.

Mr. Mambold posted:

I would also recommend going chronologically. I read most of these 8-10 years ago and was impressed at how Connelly develops Bosch's character with each story, how he ages and evolves over the course of the series. Bosch does not pop up full-blown in the 1st book, and one of the hooks for me was how he channels his own conflict into who/what he is. I also get a kick out of checking out the jazz players he likes, a little to Mr. Connelly for that. I am a bit surprised that more of Connelly's whodunnits have not been translated to movies.

On that note, I've been pretty uniformly disappointed that the books don't translate well to audio for me. Maybe it's my own quirk that I am not bothered by reading brutal fiction details nearly as much as listening to a reader describe them (over my car stereo)

Agreed totally, the larger story of Bosch's character development is what really impresses me about the series, even though the mysteries are pretty top notch nine times out of ten. Bosch is realistic in that he has some tendencies and character flaws that stick with him just like we all do, yet at the same time he changes as he gets older. Some of the later stories that I'm getting into now show a much more mature Bosch that wouldn't make some of the mistakes that he made early in his career. I'm also a bit surprised that more of Connelly's stuff hasn't made it to the silver screen. Have you caught the pilot of the Bosch TV series by chance? I'm curious as to how it turned out but I want to get caught up on the novels first.

So I just finished The Lincoln Lawyer yesterday. I went into it thinking that I wouldn't like the Haller stories as much as the Bosch ones, but I was wrong. It's a refreshing change of pace and Connelly writes a pretty good court scene. Haller himself is the real hook, he's kind of a slimebag, but a lovable one that you root for the whole time. The only thing that sort of let me down was the climactic trial scene...there's nothing wrong with it necessarily, I just expected a few more twists out of it.

The Human Cow
May 24, 2004

hurry up

I'm a big Connelly fan...I think I've read just about everything he's written. As far as favorites go, I remember liking The Drop, and The Reversal is kind of fun just because of everybody teaming up. I didn't outright dislike anything I've read of his, but I wasn't all that crazy about Nine Dragons.

I haven't seen the Amazon Bosch pilot, but I did hear good things and I'm optimistic about it getting picked up for a full series. I'm curious to hear what y'all thought about the Lincoln Lawyer movie - I was skeptical going in because I wasn't a big McConaughey fan, but I really enjoyed it and thought that he did a fantastic job with the character. There's some info floating around about a sequel, and I'd really like to see that come into fruition.

If you like Connelly, I can also recommend the Robicheaux books from Burke. Some of them get a little out there, but by and large they're great reads too.

Hieronymous Alloy
Jan 30, 2009


Why! Why!! Why must you refuse to accept that Dr. Hieronymous Alloy's Genetically Enhanced Cream Corn Is Superior to the Leading Brand on the Market!?!



Morbid Hound

I am loving the time capsule element of these stories. Early 90's LA is a great setting for a series.

The part in the sixth book where the detective has to explain to Harry what a web server is is particularly hilarious though. In a way this series is making me feel old because it's making me realize how long ago the nineties were.

The only thing I'm not liking is that sometimes the endings are a little contrived -- you can sometimes predict who the killer is going to be by looking at which secondary characters are getting boring and need to be written out.

Hieronymous Alloy fucked around with this message at 05:57 on May 16, 2014

Mr. Mambold
Feb 13, 2011

Aha. Nice post.





Your Sledgehammer posted:



Agreed totally, the larger story of Bosch's character development is what really impresses me about the series, even though the mysteries are pretty top notch nine times out of ten. Bosch is realistic in that he has some tendencies and character flaws that stick with him just like we all do, yet at the same time he changes as he gets older. Some of the later stories that I'm getting into now show a much more mature Bosch that wouldn't make some of the mistakes that he made early in his career. I'm also a bit surprised that more of Connelly's stuff hasn't made it to the silver screen. Have you caught the pilot of the Bosch TV series by chance? I'm curious as to how it turned out but I want to get caught up on the novels first.

I had no idea there was such a thing? What channel, etc?

Your Sledgehammer posted:

So I just finished The Lincoln Lawyer yesterday. I went into it thinking that I wouldn't like the Haller stories as much as the Bosch ones, but I was wrong. It's a refreshing change of pace and Connelly writes a pretty good court scene. Haller himself is the real hook, he's kind of a slimebag, but a lovable one that you root for the whole time. The only thing that sort of let me down was the climactic trial scene...there's nothing wrong with it necessarily, I just expected a few more twists out of it.

Agreed, I also enjoyed the change of pace, and the totally different way Bosch is portrayed from Haller's pov. is great. I was disappointed mainly by the casting of Matthew McConaughey in the movie version of Lincoln Lawyer; he was just totally wrong, starting with his soft Southern accent. I mean,wtf, it's L.A.

Mr. Mambold
Feb 13, 2011

Aha. Nice post.





Hieronymous Alloy posted:

I am loving the time capsule element of these stories. Early 90's LA is a great setting for a series.

It is, he takes it from early 90's and the Rodney King riots, and all the ways that impacts the L.A.P.D., on into the early 2000's with a lot of flashback building. The descriptions of cutting-edge technology of the time gave me a chuckle.

Hieronymous Alloy posted:

The part in the sixth book where the detective has to explain to Harry what a web server is is particularly hilarious though. In a way this series is making me feel old because it's making me realize how long ago the nineties were.

The only thing I'm not liking is that sometimes the endings are a little contrived -- you can sometimes predict who the killer is going to be by looking at which secondary characters are getting boring and need to be written out.

Sounds like you are burning right through them. I have that tendency too, to pig out on something I really enjoy. Is he butting heads again with Chief Irving Irving in that one? The way that relationship builds over the series is impressive.

Fellwenner
Oct 21, 2005
Don't make me kill you.



I finished The Black Echo. Real solid and entertaining. There's a lot I think I can say once I process it, but for now I am just thankful that the characters and setting aren't the pit of corruption and despair that Ellroy's LA Quartet is. In this first book, Harry is just a bit of a stereotype and one dimensional character, but I'm hopeful that this changes based on what a few of you have written here.

Fellwenner fucked around with this message at 07:58 on Jun 13, 2014

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ControlledBurn
Sep 7, 2006

Frost his bag!


I've really been enjoying the series so far; the shift in perspective from third to first in Lost Light was a bit annoying, but the change from first to third depending on the character/chapter in Narrows is downright obnoxious and completely takes me out of the book each time the perspective changes.

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