A former Los Angeles Times crime reporter, Michael Connelly’s familiarity with the seamy side of L.A. adds a steamy kind of street cred to his hardboiled, gritty detective novels -- especially his bestselling series of mysteries featuring dark detective Hieronymous “Harry” Bosch.
Best known for his dark police procedurals featuring the tough, complex and emotionally scarred LAPD detective, Hieronymous "Harry" Bosch, Michael Connelly has been called "infernally ingenious" (The New York Times), "one of those masters...who can keep driving the story forward in runaway locomotive style" (USA Today) and "the top rank of a new generation of crime writers" (The Los Angeles Times).
Consistently exquisite prose and engrossing storylines play an integral role in his swelling success. However, Connelly believes that solid character development is the most important key. As he explained to MagnaCumMurder.com, "I think books with weak or translucent plots can survive if the character being drawn along the path is rich, interesting and multi-faceted. The opposite is not true."
A native of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Connelly attended the University of Florida; there he discovered the works of Raymond Chandler -- author of many classic Los Angeles-based noir dramas such as The Big Sleep, The Long Goodbye, and Farewell, My Lovely. The cases of Philip Marlowe inspired Connelly to be a crime novelist -- and by studying journalism, he put himself in the perfect position. "I went into journalism to learn the craft of writing and to get close to the world I wanted to write about -- police and criminals, the criminal justice system," he told MagnaCumMurder.com.
After graduation, Connelly worked the crime beat for two Florida newspapers. When a story he and a colleague wrote about the disastrous 1985 crash of Delta Flight 191 was short-listed for the Pulitzer, Connelly landed a gig in Marlowe's backyard, covering crime for one of the nation's largest newspapers -- The Los Angeles Times. Three years later, Harry Bosch was introduced in The Black Echo, which earned Connelly the Edgar Award for Best First Novel. Connelly has since won every major mystery honor, including the Anthony (The Poet, Blood Work) and the Macavity Award (Blood Work).
While Connelly has written stand-alone novels that don't feature his tragic protagonist Harry Bosch, he is best identified by his rigid, contentious and fiery -- but also immensely skilled and compassionate -- detective. According to The Boston Globe, the Bosch series "raises the hard-boiled detective novel to a new level...adding substance and depth to modern crime fiction."
Called "one of the most compelling, complex protagonists in recent crime fiction" (Newsweek) and "a terrific...wonderful, old-fashioned hero who isn't afraid to walk through the flames -- and suffer the pain for the rest of us" (The New York Times Book Review), Bosch faces unforgettable horrors every day -- either on the street or in his own mind. "Bosch is making up for wrongs done to him when he rights wrongs as a homicide detective," Connelly explained in an interview with his publisher. "In a way, he is an avenging angel."
Bosch is clearly a product of his deadly, unforgiving environment. "The philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche once wrote that when you look into the darkness of the abyss the abyss looks into you. Probably no other line or thought more inspires or informs my work," said Connelly in the same interview. With each passing novel, Bosch looks deeper and deeper into the abyss; and readers continue to return to see just how far he will gaze.
Good To Know
Michael Connelly received a huge career boost in 1994 when then President Bill Clinton was photographed walking out of a Washington bookstore with a copy of The Concrete Blonde under his arm. Connelly remarked to USA Today, "In the six years I've been writing books, that is the biggest thrill I've had."
Real events have always inspired Connelly's plots. His novel Blood Work was inspired by a friend who underwent transplant surgery and was coping with survivor's guilt, knowing someone had died in order for him to live. The book was later developed into a feature film starring Clint Eastwood, Angelica Huston, and Jeff Daniels.
One of Connelly's writing professors at the University of Florida was cult novelist Harry Crews.
Connelly named his most famous character after the 15th Century Dutch painter, Hieronymous Bosch. As he told Bookends UK in an interview, Bosch "created richly detailed landscapes of debauchery and violence and human defilement. There is a ‘world gone mad' feel to many of his works, including one called ‘Hell' -- of which a print hangs on the wall over the computer where I write." Some interesting outtakes from our interview with Connelly:
"I wrote a mystery story as a class paper in high school. It was called The Perfect Murder. The protagonist's named was McEvoy, a name I later used for the protagonist in The Poet. Being a witness to a crime when I was 16 was what made me interested in crime novels and mystery stories."
"I wrote my first real murder story as a journalist for the Daytona Beach News Journal in 1980. It was about a body found in the woods. Later, the murder was linked to a serial killer who was later caught and executed for his crimes."
"Everything I want people to know about me is in my books."