The first season of Bosch, the Amazon Studios TV series based on Tampa author Michael Connelly's bestselling novels, was a strong start.
Judging by its opening episodes, Season 2 is even better.
Available Friday on Amazon Prime Video, the new season begins with a series of iconic Los Angeles shots — the show is filmed there, on LAPD Detective Harry Bosch's turf — of a man driving a BMW convertible along a mountain road with those spectacular ocean-of-lights views of the city. The driver ends a phone call to help a pretty girl whose car is disabled on the side of the road. It's the last thing he ever does.
Cut to Bosch (Titus Welliver), shaving his beard in preparation for returning to work after a six-month suspension that began at the end of Season 1, when he tossed a supervisor through a glass panel in the office. Has the time off mellowed him? Not much, but it hasn't dulled his edge, either — on the first call he's sent on, he leaves two other detectives in the dust as he bags a rapist-turned-murderer in less time than it takes to eat lunch.
Soon enough, the driver of that BMW convertible turns up, decomposing in the car's trunk. Bosch and his partner, Jerry Edgar (Jamie Hector), catch the murder investigation, which quickly gets very interesting. The victim is a movie producer who makes porn and seems to be very successful at it, judging by his lavish home in a gated suburb. There Bosch and Edgar interview the not at all grieving widow, Veronica, played by Jeri Ryan (Star Trek: Voyager) in luscious full film-noir femme fatale mode.
As is usually the case in Connelly's 20 books (so far) about Bosch (No. 21, The Wrong Side of Goodbye, is due in November), other cases intertwine with the first one. The major case from Season 1, the investigation of serial killer Raynard Waits, is still reverberating in city politics. On another front, a Los Angeles Times reporter tells Bosch she's getting calls from a woman who claims to know something about the unsolved murder of Bosch's mother 40 years ago.
Fans of Connelly's popular series might recognize some of Season 2's source material. Connelly, who remains very much involved in the show as a writer and executive producer, and the other writers have reshaped and combined several novels rather than just one; for Season 2, the main sources are Trunk Music, The Drop and The Last Coyote.
The first couple of episodes suggest that we'll be seeing greater development of the series' regular characters, notably Bosch's bosses Grace Billets (Amy Aquino) and Irvin Irving (Lance Reddick). Irving in particular seems to be growing into a more complex and intriguing character, with his relationship with his son George, a young LAPD officer, becoming a major part of the series' arc.
Welliver is as strong as ever as Bosch, bringing out more of the character's bone-dry humor as well as his intensity. And he's as grumpily devoted to his job as ever. When his ex-wife, Eleanor Wish, mocks him for finally getting a smart phone, he says:
"There's a lot of things I like about modern life."
Just as in the novels, Los Angeles is as much a character as any human. The series uses the city to great effect, from a shakedown in the lavish Millennium Biltmore Hotel to a visit to the bleak Panorama City neighborhood, where the cops joke they don't see the panorama. When Bosch and Billets go out for a drink, jazz phenom Grace Kelly is on stage at the club.
In an interview in January, Connelly told me, "We have a much better show this time. I was really happy and proud with Season 1, so I don't want to say that like there was something wrong with it. But we really built on it."
Looks like he's right.
Contact Colette Bancroft at [email protected] or (727) 893-8435. Follow @colettemb.