>Why Didn’t I Discover Michael Connelly Sooner?


My brain was about to melt from all the philosophy I had to read in the past two weeks, so I realized that I needed a new mystery series to provide a distraction from the complexities of Badiou and Laclau. Since my fellow Kindle owners are really into Connelly these days, I decided to start reading him, too.

All of my favorite mystery writers are women. There is a single male author whose work I follow (John Lescroart) but the rest are women. I’m over the cozy mystery genre, which is what male writers do best. If you want scary, gritty and bloody, you have to go with female writers every single time. Male mystery authors are squeamish about blood and gore, while their female colleagues pile up horrors in a very cavalier fashion.

Michael Connelly, however, is very good. He has two series that sometimes overlap: the police procedurals whose main character is a policeman called Hyeronimus Bosch (seriously) and courtroom dramas staring a lawyer called Mickey Haller*. The Mickey Haller series are quite crappy. The author based his protagonist on the cliche-ridden legacy of the noir fiction. If you are sick and tired of the characters developed by the supremely boring Raymond Chandler, Mickey Spillane and Dashiel Hammett, then you will be equally bored by this series from Michael Connelly.

There are two big drawbacks to the otherwise great Hyeronimus Bosch series. The first one is that Connelly doesn’t know how to end a mystery novel. His endings tend to be very unimpressive. “Here is the killer, case closed, the end.” This author seems to have no idea that a good mystery doesn’t end when the killer is revealed. At least a few pages need to be dedicated to the explanation of some previously unknown details about the crime, the criminal, or the search for the criminal.

Another huge problem I have with Connelly’s books is that they are set in L.A. Honestly, don’t writers get tired of placing every other series that comes on the market in the same city? I’m sick and tired of L.A. already and I’ve never even been there. And it isn’t just about the same annoying geography. When you place a detective series in L.A., this will define what the books in the series will be about. For example, whenever a novel is set in L.A., it’s bound to be filled with aspiring actors and actresses who don’t manage to make it in the movies and turn to prostitution. (Now that my favorite TV series Law & Order had also moved to L.A., I’m getting annoyed every time I hear this city’s name.)

In spite of these issues, however, Connelly’s Hyeronimus Bosch novels are very good. The writer’s greatest achievement in this series is the protagonist. Connelly has to be commended for reducing the noirish characteristics of the protagonist to a minimum. Writing about an LA police officer who worked in LAPD from the 1990ies on is fraught with danger. Connelly obviated the immediate dislike for a character who is an LA cop by creating a sensitive and tortured policeman. “Taking cases straight to heart is the way of the true detective. The only way,” Bosch announces in Echo Park in a way that would be pompous had it come from someone else. Coming from this particular character, though, the statement is very believable.

* From what I’ve been able to gather, Connelly has some stand alone novels too but I haven’t been able to take a look at those yet.

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