Before he embarked on his book tour for The Burning Room, his 19th novel featuring Los Angeles Police Department Detective Harry Bosch, Michael Connelly talked via phone about the new book and about Bosch, the upcoming Amazon Prime television series based on the books, for which he is an executive producer.
Colette Bancroft, Times book editor
In The Burning Room, you give Harry Bosch, who is nearing retirement, a new partner. Lucy Soto is much younger and much less experienced than Bosch. What new sides to his character did you hope that relationship would reveal?
I think maybe that he's coming to grips with reality and mortality. Not that he's about to die, but he's always been a relentless guy. He didn't worry about tomorrow. But now his time with the badge is coming to an end, and he wants to pass on some of what he knows. He's thinking, "I'm at the end of my run, you're at the beginning of yours. What can I teach you?"
One character in the book, whom Bosch and Soto meet in the course of their investigation, is a detective named Ricky Childers. Is that a nod to the Tampa Police Department detective of that name who was one of three law enforcement officers murdered by Hank Earl Carr on May 19, 1998?
Yes. The Tampa Police Benevolent Association has a golf tournament, and I donated a character name to their auction. Ricky Childers' widow won it. The character isn't him, but I tried to get a little bit about him in there.
Unlike some crime fiction heroes, Harry Bosch makes mistakes. He makes several in this book that have serious consequences. Why make him so fallible?
It's funny you should bring that up. When you're making a TV show, you get lots of notes from the studio. They keep asking us, "Why is he the cop we want to watch? What makes him special? What makes him a supercop?" He's not. Harry is a grinder. He just grinds away at a case until he solves it. I always wanted to write about how homicide cops really do their jobs; most people have no idea what it's like. It's a way of communicating his character. Heroism comes from not being defeated.
Speaking of the TV series, how is it going?
We're at the end of shooting the seventh episode of 10 episodes. I'll miss a week (for the book tour), but we'll be done filming before Thanksgiving. There's not an exact release date, but they'll release all 10 episodes at once in mid February.
Have you been hands-on?
Oh yeah. Hollywood usually wants to take your book and not take you along with it. But this has been different. They wanted me involved, and I figured it was an opportunity I couldn't pass up. It's been a good creative shakeup for me.
In the series, Bosch is played by Titus Welliver. Has seeing your character embodied by an actor affected how you write about him?
There are big differences between them. In the series he's much younger (than he is in the recent books). That really helped me separate them. I go back and forth, but I've been writing about this guy since the '80s. He's totally embedded in my head.
Not to give away anything specific, but The Burning Room has an ambiguous ending. Will Bosch be back?
It's safe to say Harry will be back, but there's the question of how he will be back. That ending was designed to give me time to think about that.
Is your next book under way?
Not yet, but after November I'll start up. It will be Haller (his other series character, L.A. lawyer Mickey Haller) and Bosch.
To watch the pilot of the "Bosch" TV series for free, go to tbtim.es/9lz.