Michael Connelly’s books featuring Los Angeles Detective Harry Bosch are among the world’s most popular police procedurals. Connelly published the first Bosch book in 1992, and there have been 22 altogether. The Bosch series has spun off two other characters, Mickey Haller (the Lincoln Lawyer) and Renee Ballard, a young detective who has been featured in two books so far, which I like a lot.
One of my sisters-in-law turned me on to the Bosch books some years ago. They are excellent, but contain a structural problem: Bosch is already a middle-aged Vietnam veteran when the series begins. Connelly has had to slow the aging process over the 27 years (so far) that the series has been published.
I happened to learn last week that Amazon has made a video series out of the Bosch books. The Amazon Original series has now concluded five seasons, with a sixth forthcoming. They are “free” with Amazon Prime. I watched Episode 1 of Season 1 a week ago yesterday, and am now almost through Season 3. I generally prefer reading to watching, but in this case I think the Bosch video series is even better than the novels.
Michael Connelly is one of the series’ executive producers, so the series is faithful to the spirit of the books. But important changes have been made: the Amazon series takes place in the present, and the middle-aged Bosch is now a veteran of Iraq and Afghanistan. The seasons do not follow the books chronologically; rather, each season is based on elements of several books that may have been published quite a few years apart. Modern aspects of police work, like smart phones and DNA, have been integrated without materially changing the feel of the series or the flow of the narrative.
In my opinion, the characters are realized beautifully, beginning with Titus Welliver, who does a terrific job as Harry Bosch. Others, like Deputy Chief Irvin Irving, Bosch’s one-time wife Eleanor Wish (already his ex-wife when the Amazon series begins), Bosch’s partner Jerry Edgar, and various villains are also excellently realized.
Production values, to my amateur eye, are first-class. The gritty streets are credible, and Bosch’s house, cantilevered over a Hollywood canyon and paid for by a movie studio that made a film about one of Bosch’s early cases, is beautifully realized.
Language is rough and violence is inevitable, but I think Amazon’s Bosch is terrific. If you like this sort of thing, I highly recommend it.
UPDATE: Perhaps I should have added that nowhere in the Amazon series have I seen even a whiff of liberalism, but our readers probably inferred that from my endorsement.