Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Masters of the genre: Michael Connelly

There is a well-known genre of fiction (and film) called the "police procedural". Procedurals can be distinguished from standard murder mysteries by their virtual ignoring of any sort of "whodunit" writing or plotting. We don't care who did what to whom in procedurals, and in many cases, we may already know who committed the crimes being investigated. What the writer focuses on instead are the details and manner of solving the crime in question--the procedures used by the police (or other investigators) to find and capture (or kill, in more lurid tales) the criminal--and the characterization of the protagonist and his/her allies.

Michael Connelly has proven to be a prolific and uniformly entertaining author of police procedurals. His main character is a tough, rules-breaking cop with the unlikely name of Hieronymous Bosch. Bosch, who goes by Harry, rarely refuses to make waves inside the department when in hot pursuit of the truth, so we are consistently placed in the position of rooting for a man who is constantly under the gun to produce results. This tension plays out in what we see of Bosch's personal life, as he is almost never allowed to have a girlfriend beyond a few chance encounters that flame out over the course of a book or two due to his obsessive need to run roughshod over anything/anyone that stands in his way to solve The Case.

Connelly, who started writing in the early 1990s, seemingly tried to retire Bosch in the mid-1990s after 4 increasingly successful novels, creating a new crime-solving protagonist in newspaper reporter Terry McCaleb. The McCaleb character only lasted for a handful of books, however, although ironically the only major film to be made so far from Connelly's work--1998's Blood Work--was one of these. Connelly has written 18 novels and 1 autobiographical non-fiction book in 15 years and shows few signs of letting up, to the delight of his growing number of fans, yours truly included.

A select few of his works, starting from the beginning:

No comments:

Search the Book Talk archives!