It's been two decades since the maverick Los Angeles homicide detective Hieronymus "Harry" Bosch made his debut in
Along the way, and despite (or maybe because of) his rough edges, Bosch has become one of the most popular and enduring figures in American
In his latest outing, "The Black Box" (to be published Monday), an aging Bosch applies his still-formidable detecting skills to a cold case that he initially investigated during the
"The reality is that detectives are not always investigating the murders of their girlfriends or people they know," says Connelly, who took up writing crime after several years as a police reporter at the
If Bosch's sense of personal mission is at the core of his personality, it's also a factor in his status as a law-enforcement insider with an outsider's permanent chip on his shoulder. Unlike most of his colleagues, he has zero interest in moving up in the department; in "The Black Box," he's 62, three years away from retirement, and still poring through case files, working the phones and, at the end, kicking butt.
"From the beginning I had the idea that Harry would have the badge and the gun and be a representative of the state, but he wouldn't feel comfortable about it — he'd be suspicious of his own place, his own department," Connelly says. "So I consciously chose things that would reinforce him as an outsider. They could be big — not having a family, not having children, being alone — to small things like having him be a smoker, because smokers have to go outside to smoke; or having him be left-handed in a right-handed world.
"All of that leads to his issues with authority and issues with personal relationships, which he can't hold onto. It also makes him an introvert, a guy on the outside looking in, which in turn makes him a good observer and, therefore, a good detective."
In his detection methods, Bosch has barely evolved over the years. He still prefers physical records to their digital counterparts, relying on younger, more computer-savvy co-workers to navigate law-enforcement databases and the Internet. But he's slowing down physically. He needs reading glasses now; his knees pop after kneeling at a crime scene. And he's trying, belatedly, to address some of his communication issues — pondering, in "The Black Box," whether it's been disrespectful, over all the years, when he calls his colleagues by their last names only, rather than using their first names or, even better, the title "Detective."
"Harry's a bit wiser now that he's getting older, and maybe pulling a few more punches in terms of his personal relationships," says Asya Muchnick, Connelly's editor at Little, Brown for the past several years. "But he's still pretty volatile, still a maverick. That's never going to change."
Perhaps most important, Bosch is learning — the hard way, in some cases — how to be a good dad to his teenage daughter, Maddie, who's showing signs of following him into the family business. Could Maddie headline her own series at some point?
"It's a possibility, and obviously the groundwork's there," says Connelly, who divides his time between California and Florida, where he lives with his wife and teenage daughter. "I don't know in this case. I do know that Harry is not going to be around, at least carrying a badge and a gun, much longer. He's already older than anyone working homicides in the LAPD, so I'm already thinking it's begging realism to keep him at it. It doesn't mean it's the end of the series, or that we'll never see Harry Bosch again. There's still a lot that could happen."
One thing that is happening is work on a TV series featuring Bosch. The as-yet-untitled series is being developed by Fuse Entertainment, the production company behind the cable series
"Hopefully we can find an actor who can convey the inner workings of Harry Bosch," Connelly says. "That's going to be very hard to do, because Harry's such an internal guy — which is probably why he's been around for 20 years and there's never been a movie. I'm keeping my fingers crossed."
'The Black Box'
By Michael Connelly
Little, Brown, 416 pages, $27.99