Saturday, July 18, 2009

Book Blogging & Harry Bosch

I've decided to give up the charade and tell the truth... My blog is about books! From now on, I'm going to devote myself solely to writing about the main "hobby" in my life -- reading. Occasionally I might venture into the world of cinema or music or travel or food, but for the most part I'll stick to what I do best. Talking about the things I'm reading: the characters, the settings, the series, the writing.

To begin my venture, I'll pen a few lines about my latest obsession: Michael Connelly.

I have long read mystery series. I have been a voracious reader my entire life (and a voracious book collector... even at 9 and 10 years old, I had shelves upon shelves of Sweet Valley High books, Anne of Green Gables and all subsequent novels, Judy Blume books, Beverly Cleary... ah, the list goes on and on). I sometimes claim that my love of mysteries began with Patricia Cornwell. On a family vacation my mom handed me Postmortem. I resisted (weren't mystery books only a fraction of a hair above romance novels, in their formulaic sameness?), but ultimately read the novel in less than 24 hours. Then I read every Scarpetta novel written to date.

After I was done with Kay and Pete and Benton (you know, a week or so later), I searched for other female protagonists. I came upon Sara Paretsky's V.I. Warshawski, whose series I also gulped down in very few days of late nights and little sleep. Then came Skip Langdon, from New Orleans writer Julie Smith. I was on a virtual female-protagonist-mystery-series journey. Along the way I met Marcia Muller's Sharon McCone, Perri O'Shaughnessy (actually two sisters' pen name)'s Nina Reilly, Sue Grafton's Kinsey Millhone, Laura Lippman's Tess Monaghan, and Linda Barnes's Carlotta Carlyle, among others. I couldn't get enough of those tough, driven (okay, sometimes tortured) women who were out there solving crimes and fighting criminals. For a list of female crime-fighters created in mystery novels, click here.

Recently, I began to think I might want to branch out of my "reading rut" and look into the possibility that MALE protagonists might sometimes be just as good. (Probably not, I thought, but I should at least attempt to break free of my sexist ways.) Imagine my surprise when I found Michael Connelly and his main character, police detective Harry Bosch. Bosch is dark, and tortured, and his sordid background pushed him into a life not of crime, but of solving crimes. I couldn't find the first two novels, so I started with Connelly's third novel, The Concrete Blonde (made famous by former President Bill Clinton when he walked out of MysteryBooks in Washington, D.C. carrying an advance copy of the novel). Let me just say here that I never do this -- I always start with #1 and go from there. This was just a try, to see if I liked Connelly's writing. And I did. I read the next few in quick succession, then began A Darkness More Than Night. And stopped.

It was listed as a Harry Bosch-series novel, but it began with Terry McCaleb. As I flipped through, I saw McCaleb's name throughout the novel. I needed to do some research. I found that McCaleb was also a repeat character for Connelly, first seen in a novel called Blood Work. This novel was a bit more famous than Connelly's other works for one simple reason -- esteemed actor and director Clint Eastwood made a film based on it. I watched the film, then decided to read up a bit more on the series I was blindly reading my way through. I found that not only has Connelly written Harry Bosch's series, but he's also written several others and several crossover novels with both Harry Bosch and other recurring characters. I'm now in the process of reading all of Connelly's novels, in order, regardless of character. That way when I come to crossover novels, I'll know the background on all of them.

Here are the Michael Connelly novels in chronological order, with characters:
The Black Echo (1992): Harry Bosch
The Black Ice
(1993): Harry Bosch
The Concrete Blonde
(1994): Harry Bosch
The Last Coyote (1995): Harry Bosch
The Poet (1996): Jack McEvoy & Rachel Walling
Trunk Music (1997): Harry Bosch
Blood Work (1998): Terry McCaleb
Angels Flight (1999): Harry Bosch
Void Moon (2000): Cassie Black
A Darkness More Than Night
(2001): Harry Bosch, with Terry McCaleb & Jack McEvoy
City Of Bones
(2002): Harry Bosch
Chasing the Dime (2002): Henry Pierce
Lost Light
(2003): Harry Bosch
The Narrows
(2004): Harry Bosch, with Rachel Walling & Terry McCaleb
The Closers
(2005): Harry Bosch
The Lincoln Lawyer (2005): Mickey Haller
Echo Park
(2006): Harry Bosch, with Rachel Walling
The Overlook
(2007): Harry Bosch, with Rachel Walling
The Brass Verdict
(2008): Harry Bosch, with Mickey Haller & Jack McEvoy
The Scarecrow (2009): Jack McEvoy & Rachel Walling
9 Dragons
(2009): Harry Bosch

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