Los Angeles, California
November 23, 2015
(Originally posted in 2010 and updated  November 2015)

I rarely read mystery novels, with one major exception- those written by bestselling author, Michael Connelly.

Michael Connelly

connelly photo

Prior to 2003, I had never heard of him.

My first awareness of Connelly’s writings came in 2003, post-publication of Black Dahlia Avenger,  when the two of us were scheduled to speak at the 2003 Bouchercon Convention in Las Vegas.

That same year,  Michael had been nominated as president of the Mystery Writers of America and would preside over the upcoming Edgar Awards in NYC. (My first book, Black Dahlia Avenger, was one of the six nominees in the running for an Edgar Award in the True Fact category.)

Based on those two imminent meetings with Connelly, I figured the least I could do was read one of his books. But, which one? I threw a dart and it landed on–The Last Coyote.


I picked up a copy and read it non-stop. I WAS HOOKED.

I went back and began reading his novels chronologically and as of this writing (2010) I am just completing his 14th novel,  The Brass Verdict and find myself a bit depressed at the prospect that there is only a handful remaining. Then what do I do? (It is now 2015 and I have read all of his novels, including his just published THE CROSSING.)

Harry Bosch- An Identity Crisis?

In my opinion, Michael Connelly is the best police procedural writer on the planet. He’s got it down to near perfection. His character Hieronymus “Harry” Bosch is my hero. He’s an “out-of-the-box,” thinking detective, who plays it straight, has a high solve rate,  and gets it right most of the time, but occasionally screws up. What’s not to love?

But, I have to admit; Connelly has created a character whose biography so closely mimics my own on so many levels that I cannot help but IDENTIFY with Harry.

As you review the below comparisons, keep in mind while Connelly has publicly indicated that Harry Bosch “is a composite of several real-life individuals” (along with some fictional characteristics of his own) –I am not one of those individuals.

To my knowledge, Connelly, while giving my book one of my favorite “author blurbs” still, did not know me, and it is doubtful he had ever heard of me before the publication of my book in 2003.  I retired from LAPD in 1986 after nearly 24-years of service. Connelly didn’t publish his first novel,  The Black Echo,  until 1992.

Listed below are a few of the reasons why I have a bit of an identity crisis with my good friend–Detective Hieronymus “Harry” Bosch. Harry will tell you, “There are no coincidences.”

Steve would, for the most part, AGREE. So, for the moment, let’s just call these: “SYNCHRONICITIES.”

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Let’s add one more that I missed:

HB:  Had a sibling that he named Mattie.
SH:   Had a sibling that he named Mattie.

April 6, 2016 Update from a reader, Brian Weatherby, who made the following observations:

“Steve,

Add this to your similarities between Harry Bosch and yourself:
Both discovered lapd cover up of murder and likely serial murder relating to his family decades after the fact.
Bosch: his mother’s likely killer was a drug informant that had an “untouchable” status and was relocated.
George had a de facto untouchable status and got out of the country before the DA caught him.”

Michael Connelly’s review of my book, Black Dahlia Avenger: A Genius for Murder (2003)

connelly quote on BDA

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My Amazon review of Michael’s just published (2015) Harry Bosch novel, THE CROSSING.

crossing review for amazon

9 Comments

  1. MAX HURLBUT on November 24, 2015 at 4:39 pm

    STEVE HODEL is a good friend and former Hollywood Division partner. I agree that MICHAEL CONNELLY writes the best LAPD fiction stories. But to call him the best “police procedural writer on the planet” is clearly an exaggeration. C.’s claim to have been assigned the “police beat” for the “L.A. Times” is highly suspect. C. calls badges “shields,” and suspects “perps.” (All East Coast terms). He believes deputy chiefs run divisional detective units rather than lesser ranks, as Detective III’s and, sometimes, lieutenants. HARRY BOSCH conceals his automatic so as to carry it into Mexico in “Black Ice.” A border station officer observes left-handed HARRY turning in a right-handed revolver. Huh? Why doesn’t CONNELLY have someone (as HODEL) proof-read his books? These goofs are distracting, but I must agree with STEVE that his career closely parallels that of BOSCH—-and CONNELLY writes the most interesting mysteries.

    • Steve Hodel on November 24, 2015 at 5:14 pm

      Hi Max:
      All good points. (One of my least favorite cop terms frequently seen in Michael’s and others writings is the term “brace.” Never heard it used once in all my time on the job, but now it has become a fairly common expression.) I’m thinking there may have been some cross-pollination since you and I worked the streets thirty-years ago. Between CSI, cop shows, and the normal generational changes, perhaps some of these terms are now part of the jargon of the “new LAPD.” I know Connelly has regularly kept in touch with his friends at LAPD Robbery/Homicide and many current detectives are mentioned in his recent novels. So, he’s likely better informed than you and I would be on what is the current cop speak?
      His assignment to the L.A. Times as a reporter assigned to the police beat is a righteous claim. In fact he wrote a non-fiction book, Crime Beat: A Decade of Covering Cops and Killers documenting many of the actual cases he reported on for the newspapers both in Florida and in Los Angeles. (One of the stories even included one of my old Hollywood murders where the boyfriend threw gasoline on his girlfriend and then fled to Mexico and avoided arrested for many years. He covered it after the suspect was finally arrested and extradited which was after my retirement in ’86.

      • Max HURLBUT on November 24, 2015 at 10:58 pm

        Good reply, STEVE. Thanks. It still strikes me as funny (peculiar, not ha-ha) that CONNELLY will research some arcane subject in his novels, yet neglect LAPD and correct weapons terminology. (Do editors and fact-checkers still exist?). As HARRY BOSCH was in Viet Nam and joined LAPD upon his return, we are speaking of the LAPD of as much as 45 years ago. True that the Affirmative Action era, pseudo-CSI shows, and the hiring of outside (East Coast) chiefs possibly altered the police cant of our generation. It is a small thing but detracts from an otherwise great story. Also appreciate your additional commentary on the subject. MAX

  2. Wade Sellers on November 25, 2015 at 10:56 am

    Steve/Max ….

    I am a big fan of both you Steve and Michael. I am a PI in northern CA and have a deep appreciation for the excellent grasp of forensics, the legal system, and basic technical aspects of police work and investigations that both of you have. Makes for great reads. I must say that I lean more toward the “real” stories, but if the plot is right, I can easily devour a good crime novel.

    Steve, your books are like textbooks for me. They entertain, inspire, and teach. I have read them all. All of them have underlined sentences, highlighted paragraphs, and notes on numerous pages. They will remain in my library right along with all of the other important books.

    I agree with your observations on Michael’s books. There are some discrepancies. But they are usually a good read and can definitely get you hooked. I have read most of them also.

    Finally, have either of you ever read John Lescroat’s novels? He is another crime writer from CA that is definitely in there with Steve and Michael. The difference is, all of his stories are centered in San Francisco and revolve around the SFPD. Being from SF and deeply familiar with SFPD and all of the local connections and politics, he is right on spot. His main characters, Abe Glitsky and Dismas Hardy are believable, smart, tough, and hilarious. I think you both would like them.

    Wade

    • Steve Hodel on November 25, 2015 at 11:23 am

      Wade:

      Thanks for the kind words. Much appreciated.

      San Francisco has to be a great city for P.Iing. I had thought about making it my home base some decades back, but never happened. (Shortly after my father’s relocation there and my divorce in ’95.) Guess, the powers that be had others plans for me to work out.

      Not familiar with John Lescroart, but will check him out. His books on Amazon are obviously very well received. Thanks for the heads up. Best regards, Steve

  3. Patricia O'Neill on December 9, 2015 at 2:52 pm

    Hi Steve, Talk about synchronized lives (you & Harry Bosch) I’d say more like parallel lives! That list is eerie and amazing! Will definitely search out Michael Connelly on my Nook! That is a sad note reading about your MacLaren Hall and foster care stays. I served a term on Tucson’s Foster Care Board and found myself arguing heatedly for much needed reforms and safeguards in our Child Protective Services both city wide and throughout the state of AZ. It is difficult to be heard to say the least! A real plus for me reading this blog was bringing to mind again author John Lescroart. Read The Lincoln Lawyer years ago and loved it. Seldom read fiction but will definitely read more now that I know many of his novels revolve around SF and SFPD! On a past note, did you ever read “True North” (non-fiction) by Thomas North? Reading his story I thought you and he were very much alike. He is based in Monterey/Carmel….a financial analyst with a past similar to yours. He devotes much time to Child Advocacy programs dealing with abuse and neglect. Who knows, one day your paths may cross! A very Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to you and yours, Steve! Sincerely, Pat O’Neill

    • Hodel, Steve on December 9, 2015 at 3:01 pm

      Hi Pat: Thanks.

      Connelly’s novels are all here in LA not SF, and yes, I loved the Lincoln Lawyer too, and it was a very good film too.
      I’ve heard of North, but never had any contact to date. MacLaren Hall was a real unpleasant experience in the Bad Old Days and Connelly captures some of the abusiveness in his novels from back then.
      Happy Holidays to you too.

  4. Michelle de Guzman on April 20, 2019 at 7:33 pm

    I guess I am pretty late to the party but, I have been a huge fan of yours for many years and actually corresponded with you, after you wrote your first book, via email.

    I never made the connection between you and my favorite fictional cop, Harry Bosch. Now that I found this in your blog I cannot help but smile and wonder if I have been reading MC because you only wrote 4 books not 25 like he has. 🙂

    • Steve Hodel on April 20, 2019 at 8:58 pm

      Michelle de G: *s* Well hopefully, it’s not going to take me twenty more books to complete my investigation into my father’s crimes. Although if I had made each one of them a separate investigation and book, we’d be surpassing by double Connelley’s victims. Thanks for the kind words. Much appreciated.

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