In the new season of Bosch, Amazon's bingeworthy series based on Michael Connelly's crime novels, LAPD Detective Harry Bosch's daughter asks him, "Were you here for the riots?"
Maddie is talking about the 1992 Los Angeles riots, six days of mayhem touched off by the acquittal of four police officers accused of severely beating Rodney King, an unarmed black man, during a traffic stop.
Connelly's 1999 novel Angels Flight was inspired in part by those riots, which he covered as a reporter for the Los Angeles Times before he became a bestselling author. Angels Flight is one of the main sources for Season 4 of Bosch, and it didn't take much tweaking to set its events in the present. Unfortunately, some things haven't changed.
The murder that kicks off Season 4 takes place on Angels Flight, the restored funicular railway from downtown L.A. to Bunker Hill that's a city landmark.
The victim is Howard Elias (Clark Johnson), a powerhouse civil rights lawyer who was about to bring to trial the Black Guardian case. His client is a black man who claims he was brutally tortured by police while he was being held as a suspect in the abduction of a young white girl.
It's far from the first time Elias has taken on the LAPD; Chief Irvin Irving (Lance Reddick) knows the entire robbery-homicide squad is so hostile to the victim that he can't give them the case.
That's why he assigns Bosch (Titus Welliver), who's perpetually at odds with authority, to head the task force: "You have a history with the world, Bosch, but not with Howard Elias."
Bosch believes Elias was a target, not a random robbery victim. That still leaves him with a plethora of suspects, up to and including Elias' family. His widow and son are furious at the LAPD, whom they blame for his death, but furious at him for an affair he was having.
A crowd that gathers at Angels Flight for a vigil for Elias persists as protestors, showing up all over town to demand the case be turned over to the FBI. "Sounds like Black Lives Matter," one city official notes.
The Elias murder is not the only thing keeping Bosch busy in the five episodes made available for review. Last season, there was a shocking turn in his oldest cold case, the murder of his mother. The evidence now points to a very powerful man, Bradley Walker, who heads the police commission and seems to be taunting Bosch, even offering help with the case.
A mysterious character from earlier seasons, the bike-riding gunman known as the Koreatown killer, is back — and haunting those protests.
Bosch's partner, Jerry Edgar (Jamie Hector), was shot and grievously wounded last season; in Season 4 he's getting back to work, but it's a struggle on the job and at home.
Bosch is also trying to run interference between his teenage daughter and his ex-wife, Eleanor Wish, who seems to be getting back into her old job with the FBI and getting out of her second marriage at the same time, much to Maddie's chagrin.
And another murder might be the most challenging crime Bosch has ever faced, drawing the most compelling performance yet from Welliver.
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The city of Los Angeles has always been one of the stars of this show (and the books it's based on), and that's even more true this season. Elias' office is a corner space in the iconic Bradbury Building; a little more than a block away is Angels Flight, where he's murdered. From the sunbaked suburbs where Bosch pursues subjects to his dreamy house in the Hollywood Hills, the series benefits enormously from being shot on location.
Connelly, who lives part of the time in Tampa, is busy as one of the writers and executive producers of Bosch, with Season 5 already underway, based in part on Two Kinds of Truth. And, of course, he's still writing novels: Dark Sacred Night, featuring Bosch and Connelly's newest character, Detective Renée Ballard, will be published in October.
Contact Colette Bancroft at firstname.lastname@example.org or (727) 893-8435. Follow @colettemb.