Every month we feature a different author, publisher or bookseller who has earned the RLK! seal of approval! We will highlight and review their books/company as well as providing author biographies (where available) and publishing information. We hope you enjoy RLK! Spotlight On....

Author Bio:

If you are after solidly researched, tough, intense and insightful crime/thriller novels, Michael Connelly is as good as you'll get.

Born in Philadelphia, he grew up in Florida and worked for a variety of newspapers before joining The Los Angeles Times as a police reporter. That experience has driven all of his books, which began with The Black Echo, an astonishing debut, written in Connelly's spare time, and one that earned him crime fiction's Edgar Award for Best First Novel in 1992.

From Connelly's journalistic career came the knowledge and insight to write novels about working cops and, over the past two decades, Connelly, 42 has written a lot about cops. After 14 years on police rounds, Connelly left in 1993 to take up writing full time.

He shows no sign of slowing his frantic writing pace as he continues to produce bestseller after bestseller.



Author interview:

Reprinted from the Herald Sun Newspaper (Melbourne, Australia), July 25, 1998

DEALING WITH DIRTY HARRY

Michael Connelly is a top-selling writer but even he was lost for words when confronted by the inspiration for his best-known characters, writes books editor CLAIRE HEANEY

AS A crime reporter in Los Angeles Michael Connelly had seen it all. He'd covered big stories, including the 1991 police bashing of black motorist Rodney King, and the riots that followed the acquittal of the officers involved. But when he came face-to-face with his childhood idol Clint Eastwood, he met his match.

On the other side of the table Eastwood was negotiating to buy the rights to one of the books written by the reporter-turned-crime thriller writer. Warner Brothers bought the rights for the best-selling Blood Work as a vehicle for the screen legend.

"The character in my Harry Bosch crime novels was based on Eastwood's character Dirty Harry," Connelly says in a quiet voice. "But I didn't get to say anything to him, I was just too nervous."

Connelly, due in Melbourne next month for the Melbourne Writers' Festival, says he is not sure what Eastwood has in mind for the story of retired FBI agent Terry McCaleb. McCaleb is struck down with cardiomyopathy, getting a new chance with a heart transplant. But the operation leads to a thrilling murder mystery which has seen the book hit the bestseller lists in Australia.

Connelly is coy about whether he will ever see his work on the big screen.

"It looks that way, I never say anything is for sure . . . never, when you are talking about Hollywood. He has optioned it, but he's doing another film," he says. "I met him one time and he only talked about directing it, but I assume that he would play McCaleb . . . he is a lot older than the guy in the book. In the book he is in his mid-40s."

Connelly says he was also too nervous to ask if Eastwood knew his other works.

It's 5pm in LA and Connelly, 42, is speaking from his home office. He hesitates and leaves the phone to close the door so his 18-month-old daughter doesn't distract him.

Connelly's first book was published a decade ago and he only left the newspaper business to take up the life of a full-time writer four years ago.

Pre-child, his writing was more likely to be done between 6am and noon. These days he is lucky to be at his desk by 9am.

"I tend to be a bit of a binge writer - I will write when I get the urge," he says, adding that if a good idea comes into his head at night he might turn on the lamp and jot it down.

He worked as a journalist for nearly 14 years, mostly covering police rounds. "I wanted to be a writer for some time, but I didn't think you could get out of university and start writing novels. I thought you had to learn about writing," he says.

Connelly says most of his characters and plots are drawn from his experiences as a police reporter.

"I've got about 10 years of research from working in LA alone," he says of his time at the Los Angeles Times. "I think there is a little bit of a lot of cases in my stories. First of all, in my Harry Bosch series, a lot of the cases are based on things I experienced as a reporter, I fictionalised them . . ."

He says his last of five books about LA homicide detective Hieronymous "Harry" Bosch, the popular Trunk Music, was based on an unsolved murder.

"I wrote about these things when I was writing for newspapers, and they were never solved and I kept them on file," he says. "I went back to a lot of them when I became a writer. I've just changed them a bit."

Connelly says as a police reporter in Florida and then LA there were plenty of stories to provide inspiration.

"It's kind of weird. When you are a police reporter the highlights are all bad things. I wrote about the Rodney King case . . ." he says. "I was in Florida at the time when the spacecraft Challenger crashed. So I covered a lot of bad things.

"I covered a plane crash where about 100 or so people died, and about 30 people survived. A lot of them suffered something called survivors' guilt, feeling guilty because they survived. That was about 12 years ago.

"About five years ago a friend of mine had a heart transplant and was feeling guilty as he knew someone died so he could live."

It is that survivor's guilt theme that Connelly successfully employs in Blood Work when Terry McCaleb has a heart transplant and feels guilty that an innocent woman, gunned down in what looks like an everyday convenience store shooting, has given him life.

But his guilt is compounded when he learns that the murder may not have been a random attack.

ON THE heels of Blood Work's success, one of Connelly's earlier books, The Poet, is likely to be turned into a cable TV movie. He says there were stories going around that Don Johnson was going to star in a series, but he has not heard any more.

Connelly says for a long time he dabbled with writing but he was his own worst critic.

"I actually didn't get a lot of rejections. I had my own rejections, work that I wrote and decided was not good enough," he says.

"If people read The Poet they will see the guy in it tries to write novels and gives up. I tried to write novels but I kept giving up - the character in The Poet was me before I finally finished."


Books Published:

RATING:

Date of Release: Jan '99

Publisher: Orion (Allen & Unwin)

Review Source:

ANGELS FLIGHT

Harry Bosch is already a classic character in thriller literature. Angels Flight is Connelly's sixth novel to feature Bosch, and they just keep getting better and better! This book has "genre classic" written all over it! One of Connelly's strengths is in the original plot ideas he works with. Everyday situations with a twist never dreamt of!

Bosch is assigned to the murder investigation of a high-profile African American attorney Howard Elias. When Bosch arrives at the scene, it seems that almost the entire LAPD is present, including the IAD (the Internal Affairs Division). Elias, who made a career out of suing the police for brutality and racism, was sadistically gunned down on the Angels Flight tram just as he was beginning a case that would have struck the core of the department. Not surprising, then, that most of L.A.'s men and women in blue become the center of the investigation.

Haunted by the L.A. riots and the possibility of them happening again if this case isn't solved - pronto, plagued by media attention, and facing turmoil at home (his second wife has gone missing!), Bosch suddenly finds himself questioning friends and associates while working side by side with some longtime enemies.

This is a nightmare scenario for any good cop, and Connelly plays it for all its worth. He keeps developing Bosch and his partners who are believable, three-dimensional, characters who manage to grow with each book. The terrific characters, coupled with Connelly's mastery of the police procedural make superb mysteries.

You can not afford to miss Connelly. The highest of recommendations for this author!



RATING:

Publisher: Orion (Allen & Unwin)

Review Source:

THE BLACK ECHO

Okay, folks, this is where it all started...

This is Connelly's first novel and also is the first appearance of tough but loveable Harry Bosch. Right from the start, the reader is plunged into the dark side of LA with Bosch's painstaking examination of the death-scene of sometime junkie Billy Meadows, whom Bosch knew as a fellow "tunnel rat'' in Vietnam and who's now overdosed in an abandoned water tunnel. Straight away you realise that all those years as a LA crime-reporter paid off for Connelly, and his characters.

Bosch is sure Meadows's death is murder, but his colleagues see it as accidental. Bosch is already a black sheep for his vigilante-like ways and it's not too long before he is shadowed by two nasty Internal Affairs cops wherever he goes--even to FBI headquarters, which Bosch storms after he learns that the Bureau had investigated him for a tunnel-engineered bank robbery that Meadows is implicated in.

You get the feeling Bosch is about to explode but, luckily for him, he is then assigned to work with beautiful, blond FBI agent Eleanor Wish, who - naturally - soon shares his bed in an edgy alliance. As Bosch tries to trace the bank-robbery victims he uncovers clues that point him toward a fortune in smuggled diamonds and the likelihood of a second heist.

The anticipated but all-too-brief climax in the L.A. sewer tunnels is worth the wait and there is twist after twist as we near the showdown. The whole book is swift and sure, with sharp characterizations.

Michael Connelly is a master at getting your attention and holding it until the last word. He uses all his knowledge and know-how from his crime reporter background to weave a tale full of mystery, intrigue and surprise. This first novel is a little rough around the edges - but is still well worth the read - especially as it introduces Bosch. And, don't forget, Connelly won the Edgar Award for this book. Read this one and you'll be hooked!



RATING:

Publisher: Orion (Allen & Unwin)

Review Source:

THE BLACK ICE

Connelly hit Bosch-gold when he wrote Black Ice. Following on from Black Echo, the first book to feature Bosch, Black Ice is every bit as good - if not better than the first novel. Bosch is his usual self, a man who has no time for anything else than the job and making sure the bad are busted and that he's the guy to bust them.

This time out, Bosch has been demoted to Hollywood Division for his unruly behavior - and he's not to thrilled about it at all. Still, he goes about his business as usual, and then he stumbles onto the bloody trail of the designer drug ``black ice.'' Couple this with a Narc officer suiciding...or does he? It looks like suicide, but hey, with Connelly and Bosch, you never can tell. Our hero then, naturally, pushes his way onto the case despite warnings by top brass to lay off.

Meanwhile, Bosch's boss gives him more stress by dumping a pile of open cases on his desk and telling him he wants to close out a majority of Hollywood's murder cases by New Year's Day, a week hence. One of the cases, the slaying of an unidentified Hispanic, seems to tie in to the death of the narc, which Bosch begins to read as murder stemming from the narc's dirty involvement in black ice.

When Porter is murdered shortly after Bosch speaks to him, and then the detective's love affair with an ambitious pathologist crashes, Bosch decides to head for Mexico, where clues to all three murders point. From there, the novel goes into overdrive as Bosch duels with corrupt cops; attends the bullfights; breaks into a fly-breeding lab that's the distribution center for Mexico's black-ice kingpin; and takes part in a raid on the kingpin's ranch that concludes with Bosch waving his jacket like a matador's cape at a killer bull on the rampage! Not bad for a LAPD cop!!

Catch your breath and hold on tight - this ride is a killer!



RATING:

Publisher: Orion (Allen & Unwin)

Review Source:

BLOOD WORK

Connelly, a former crime reporter for the Los Angeles Times, and the acclaimed author of the classics The Poet (1996) and the superb Trunk Music (1997) let's rip with another terrific hard-boiled and edgy thriller in Blood Work. Combining his knowledge of the criminal mind with his skill of terrific prose, he's hard to turn down as an excellent author who's guaranteed to give you the ride of your life.

In Blood Work, Connelly introduces a new character, Terry McCaleb, who was a top man at the FBI until a heart ailment forced his early retirement. Now he lives a quiet life, nursing his new heart and restoring the boat on which he lives in Los Angeles Harbor. Although he isn't looking for any excitement, when Graciela Rivers asks him to investigate her sister Gloria's death, her story hooks him immediately. And so it should, because the new heart beating in McCaleb's chest is Gloria's!

As McCaleb investigates the evidence in the case, the suspected randomness of the crime gives way to an unsettling suspicion of a twisted intelligence behind the murder and that Gloria was actually a target. Soon McCaleb finds himself on the trail of a killer more horrifying than anything he ever encountered before.

This detailed police procedural is filled with strong characters that you'll care for, and a plot that just gets better and better with every page. Original plots with unforgettable characters are Connelly's strength and you'll see them come to the fore here.

Buy it, now!



RATING:

Publisher: Orion (Allen & Unwin)

Review Source:

THE CONCRETE BLONDE

LAPD detective Harry Bosch is back...and this time, he's in trouble.

Bosch hunts down and kills "The Dollmaker", a viscious serial killer who applies makeup to his prostitute and porn star victims faces after he has raped and murdered them. The Dollmaker is dead.

Or is he?

Fast forward four years...Bosch is Exhibit A in a civil suit against the city filed by the "alleged" Dollmaker's family. They say he was no murderer - and they have an air-tight alibi to prove it. As the trial opens, a Dollmaker-style note directs the police to a woman's body buried in concrete, a "concrete blonde" who turns out to have been murdered with all the Dollmaker's trademarks but *after* Bosch killed the suspect.

Oh-oh....

Has Bosch killed the wrong man? If there a copy-cat on the loose? Crime novel meets courtroom drama is the only way to explain this novel. And it's classy! Terrific plot and brilliantly written, the novel shifts back and forth between the courtroom and the streets, between Bosch's often troubled relationships with his professional colleagues and his deepening love affair with the schoolteacher widow of a brother officer, and between Bosch's unaccustomed self-doubts and his suspicions of others. A fast-paced, classy mystery. Bosch is the best police character to appear in ten years and this novel will keep you on the edge of your seat!



RATING:

Publisher: Orion (Allen & Unwin)

Review Source:

THE LAST COYOTE

This is the third Harry Bosch novel and once again, we find hard-nosed Bosch on the edge with his life in more of a mess than usual.

Bosch is in hiding, living in his own earthquake-demolished, condemned home. Add to this the fact that he's been suspended from the force for ramming his commander's face through a window. (Not a good career move...) But at least now he's got time to kill, so he unearths the 30-year-old, unsolved murder of a Hollywood whore named Marjorie Lowe.

Why would he do that? Well Harry just happens to be the victim's son, and in the midst of his midlife crisis, it becomes necessary for him to find out who killed her. He sets up a plan and step one is to interview the surviving investigating officer, Jake McKittrick, who points Harry back into a past of corruption, greed, ambition, and blackmail. Could the murderer still be alive? Could the memories of the murder of his mother when he was 12 years old still be affecting Harry in some way? Bosch examines his past, acknowledges the damage, and sets out to heal himself. But when the real evidence begins to surface his own life is threatened by someone very powerful, cunning, and deadly.

This is tough territory for a crime novel - much deeper and introspective than other more well-known "popcorn entertainment" crime novels - but Connelly pulls it off with style and grace. The climax of the novel will leave you spinning with twist after twist and the final showdown is one to remember! If you like your crime novels dark and desperate - this one's for you.



RATING:

Publisher: Orion (Allen & Unwin)

Review Source:

THE POET

The Poet sees a break in the Bosch series of books and, boy, does it prove that Connelly can create great characters! Some people may feel that Connelly has written too many Bosch books - but there being so many available is proof of the Bosch following and the strength of his characterisation.

Still, for those who aren't "Bosch-friendly" there's always Blood Work and this novel, The Poet. And don't think you won't be on the edge of your seat with this one!

Jack McEvoy is a Denver crime reporter with the worst assignment of his career. His twin brother, top homicide detective Sean McEvoy, was found dead in his car from a self-inflicted bullet wound to the head--an Edgar Allen Poe quote smeared on the windshield.

Believe it or not, Jack is going to write the story! The problem is that Jack doesn't believe that his brother killed himself, and the more information he uncovers, the more it looks like Sean's death was the work of a serial killer. Jack's research turns up similar cases in cities across the country, and within days, he's sucked into an intense FBI investigation of an Internet pedophile who may also be a cop killer nicknamed The Poet. It's only a matter of time before The Poet kills again, and as Jack and the FBI team struggle to stay ahead of him, the killer moves in, dangerously close.

This novel will keep you holding your breath until the very end: the characters are multilayered, the plot compelling, and the climax a true surprise. Connelly fans will not be disappointed by this one. And McEvoy is certainly a terrific new character which, we hope, Connelly will re-visit at some time in the future!



RATING:

Publisher: Orion (Allen & Unwin)

Review Source:

TRUNK MUSIC

After the dazzling successes of his first few Harry Bosch novels Michael Connelly had a lot to live up to. Tough-wise-guy-and-crim-kicking Harry Bosch of the LAPD is back and, compared to his earlier works, this one just doesn't quite work.

Don't get me wrong, it's still a terrific story with great plot twists and strong characters, but Black Echo, Black Ice and Last Coyote were such winners that Connelly was bound to drop the ball on a Bosch novel at some stage. In fact, this one all feels a bit strained - but certainly worth the read if you don't mind a few implausabilities here and there.

Bosch arrives back to work from involuntary administrative leave just in time for the bodies to start turning up. His first case is what Detroit wiseguys call "trunk music" - two .22 caliber bullets in the skull of schlock movie producer Tony Aliso, with Aliso's body stuffed in the trunk of his white Rolls.

The murder has all the hallmarks of a Mob hit, but LAPD's organized-crime unit shows no interest in following up the leads. It's left to Bosch and his two young partners to follow a trail of laundered money to Las Vegas and what appears to be a sure conviction. But the guy who Harry busts is actually an undercover FBI agent with an ironclad alibi whose been working on a sting for years - a sting that Bosch has now blown.

So Bosch is once again against the ropes fighting against the Feebs, LAPD's organized crime unit, a mean S.O.B Internal Affairs investigator, the real killers, Las Vegas hoodlums, bad cops, and the possible involvement of a woman he once loved and lost. Big surpise here!

But, hey, it's all in a day's work for Harry Bosch! The climax is a good one - but leaves you feeling unfulfilled as there is no "stunning ending" as provided by earlier Bosch novels.

A good read, but don't expect too much.



Websites:

Visit the Official Michael Connelly website now to learn more about this great author.


Where to buy:

Availability:     

For those who order online, try:

Amazon UK!   Buy Laymon & Others Here!   




 RLK! Spotlight On...
Past Features

 May: Stephen Laws, Author Click here to view.
 April: Gemma O'Connor, Author Click here to view.
 March: Simon Clark, Author Click here to view.
 February: Obsidian Books, Publisher Click here to view.
 January: John Case, Author Click here to view.

 A new Feature added monthly so check here often...



Return Home