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michael connelly

Weekend Viewing Pleasure

If you’re looking for entertainment this weekend, there are some good options across different media platforms. The Winter Olympics are on TV, and Amazon just posted ten new pilots for you to watch and rate and help decide which one will get picked up for series. You don’t need a Prime membership, just a regular free account.

20140207-012649.jpgOf biggest interest to me and many readers is Bosch, based on Michael Connelly’s books about LAPD homicide detective Harry Bosch, who’s played by Titus Welliver in the show.

Welliver is not how I pictured Harry, but the actor perfectly captured Harry’s weariness for internal politics and compassion for the victims. Strong impressions were also made by Jamie Hector as Harry’s partner, Jerry Edgar, and Annie Wersching as Julia Brasher.

Besides Wersching, another 24 alum popped up—Amy Price-Francis as Honey Chandler, the attorney out to nail Harry in a civil suit after he shoots a man while on duty. Oh, and did/can you catch Connelly’s cameo? If you’ve seen the pilot, watch it again and see if you can spot him.

It was fun for me to watch Bosch because I’ve been to all the locations featured—Angels Flight, Musso & Frank, the overlook at the reservoir with the Hollywood sign in the background, the courthouse downtown where I’ve had to do jury duty, even the street where the old doctor’s house was.

Sometimes I take for granted where I live, and just put my head down and try to get through the day. When I see all the energy and beauty and history of the city captured on film, it makes me really appreciate my surroundings. Now I just have to find out where they shot Harry’s house because the view from his deck is breathtaking. During that scene, the jazz music playing is Frank Morgan’s “Lullaby.” It’s the first cut on a free CD of Harry Bosch’s music that came with the hardcover first edition of Connelly’s Lost Light.

Other pilots up at Amazon include The After from The X-Files‘ Chris Carter, Transparent from Six Feet Under‘s Jill Solloway, and Mozart in the Jungle from About a Boy‘s Paul Weitz. Besides Bosch, I’ve seen Transparent and found it unbearable. The characters, other than Jeffrey Tambor’s patriarch, are unpleasant and self-centered. The dad even says at one point that his children are all selfish. Yup.

20140207-013353.jpgIf you feel like venturing out to a movie theater, The Monuments Men, directed by George Clooney and adapted from the book by Robert M. Edsel and Bret Witter, opens today. Based on true stories, the movie offers a look at a group of real men who retrieved art masterpieces stolen by Nazis and returned them to their rightful owners. The men weren’t soldiers but regular folk who understood that destroying or robbing a culture of its art means completely eradicating those people’s influence on civilization.

The all-star cast, including Clooney, Cate Blanchett, Matt Damon, John Goodman, Bill Murray, Jean Dujardin, among others, is uniformly good, but I will say Blanchett is especially good, which is probably no surprise to anyone. And look for a special cameo at the very end. The movie has lighthearted moments and heartbreaking moments, all while teaching me about a part of history I didn’t know much about.

That’s it for now. Happy Friday everyone!

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Literary Conversation Starters

When you read in public, do people often come up to you wanting to discuss your book? It doesn’t always happen to me, but it did tonight while I was at a cafe reading Michael Connelly’s new Harry Bosch, The Black Box (Little, Brown; Nov. 26). It made me remember that the last two times I read a Connelly novel while sitting among people, someone also approached me to say he/she was a fan. I realized that the author and his protagonist are conversation starters among readers.

This past summer, I noticed that if I had Gillian Flynn’s Gone Girl with me while doing errands, people would comment on it. So I thought I’d pose a random poll here: Which books/authors spark conversation with strangers when you read in public? Why do you think that is? What’s the most surprising encounter you ever had because of a book?

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Book Review: THE DROP by Michael Connelly

Harry Bosch might be facing retirement—DROP stands for Deferred Retirement Option Plan—but there’s still a lot of evil for him to bring to justice. The story opens with him being assigned to an Open-Unsolved case that gets a hit when old DNA evidence—a drop of blood—is run through the database. What should be a nice break instead complicates things, since the match is for someone who couldn’t have committed the rape/murder twenty-two years ago, which calls into question the lab’s entire evidence-handling process.

Before Bosch can make much progress, he gets a fresh case involving a jumper at the famed Chateau Marmont. This one is full of “high jingo”—internal politics—since the body belongs to the son of Irvin Irving, the former deputy chief of police and current councilman who hates Bosch and has long tried to derail his career. Did George Irving commit suicide, or did someone with a grudge against Irving père murder him? Bosch juggles both cases, while also working in dates with an attractive psychologist and spending time with his fifteen-year-old daughter, Maddie, who now lives with him full-time after the events in Nine Dragons. The work leads him to horrific places, revealing things that will change him forever.

That’s one of the reasons I keep reading this series—Bosch changes, for better or worse. Some series authors hit the reset button as soon as one novel ends, with the next one showing no consequences from previous incidents. Connelly paints his detective more realistically. Bosch is dealing with advancing age, the cumulative effects of his years on the job, and being a single dad. This doesn’t mean he’s slathering on Ben-Gay or baking cookies with his kid. He’s just questioning whether he’s lost his edge to be a cop, if he should retire to be a full-time father. But how can he when there are still so many monsters to fight, so much more he must do to make the world a safer place for Maddie? It’s a dilemma that’s perfectly understandable, especially after what he encounters in this novel.

I had worried a teenager might cause unwelcome headaches in Bosch’s life, but Maddie is evolving into a young woman who’s sharp in thinking and shooting. Bosch has taught her how to use and respect guns, develop excellent observational skills, and she wants to follow in her father’s career footsteps. It’s a clever turn because if Harry does retire, it looks like there’s another relentless Bosch waiting in the wings.

Nerd verdict: Bosch not ready to Drop

Buy it now from Amazon| From an Indie Bookstore

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Book and Movie Poster Giveaway: Michael Connelly’s THE LINCOLN LAWYER

Michael Connelly’s The Lincoln Lawyer is coming to the big screen March 18, 2011 and the generous folks at Hachette are letting me give away five copies of the tie-in paperbacks with Matthew McConaughey, who plays Mickey Haller, on the cover. Each winner will also get a copy of the movie poster.

Lincoln Lawyer is a tight legal thriller that introduces Haller, who has gone on to be a popular character in other Connelly novels, including ones with Harry Bosch. If you haven’t read any of the books, here’s the description:

This #1 bestselling legal thriller from Michael Connelly is a stunning display of novelistic mastery – as human, as gripping, and as whiplash-surprising as any novel yet from the writer Publishers Weekly has called “today’s Dostoevsky of crime literature.”

Mickey Haller is a Lincoln Lawyer, a criminal defense attorney who operates out of the backseat of his Lincoln Town Car, traveling between the far-flung courthouses of Los Angeles to defend clients of every kind. Bikers, con artists, drunk drivers, drug dealers – they’re all on Mickey Haller’s client list. For him, the law is rarely about guilt or innocence, it’s about negotiation and manipulation. Sometimes it’s even about justice.

A Beverly Hills playboy arrested for attacking a woman he picked up in a bar chooses Haller to defend him, and Mickey has his first high-paying client in years. It is a defense attorney’s dream, what they call a franchise case. And as the evidence stacks up, Haller comes to believe this may be the easiest case of his career. Then someone close to him is murdered and Haller discovers that his search for innocence has brought him face-to-face with evil as pure as a flame. To escape without being burned, he must deploy every tactic, feint, and instinct in his arsenal – this time to save his own life.

Besides McConaughey, the movie’s stellar cast includes Marisa Tomei, Ryan Phillippe, William H. Macy and John Leguizamo.

To enter:

  • be a subscriber, Twitter follower, or Facebook fan (no, I’m not trying to bump up my numbers; I just want to give something back to those who support this site in some way)
  • leave a comment about what kind of business you’d have if you had to run it out of your car
  • have a U.S. or Canada address (or someone with same who would forward you the books)

Giveaway ends next Thursday Feb. 10 at 5 p.m. PST. Winners will be randomly selected then announced here, on Facebook and Twitter. I won’t be notifying you personally so please check back to see if you’ve won. Any prize(s) not claimed within 48 hours will be given to alternate winner(s).

Let’s hear what you’d do in the backseat of your car!

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Book Giveaway: Michael Connelly’s THE HARRY BOSCH NOVELS, VOLUME 3

Thanks to Hachette Book Group, I’m giving away three copies of this new omnibus which includes three complete Harry Bosch novels: A Darkness More than Night, City of Bones, and Lost Light. Perhaps you already have individual copies of the books but they’re in paperback and are getting tattered. Or you know someone who only recently discovered Connelly’s work and doesn’t have these titles yet. Either way, this is a handsome hardcover edition to add to your or some lucky person’s collection.

Speaking of giving, I’d like to try something this season which was inspired by what the folks over at Concord Free Press are doing, which is giving away the books they publish and only asking that you consider making a charitable donation in return. I don’t publish anything but would like you to think about giving a small amount to your favorite charity if you win one of these books. When I say small, I mean $5 or $10 or some canned goods for your local food drive. (Lest you think five bucks don’t amount to much, my local soup kitchen says $2 will feed 3 people for Thanksgiving.) How about donating some of your used books to the library? That won’t cost anything at all. You’d come out on top since the omnibus retails for $21.99.

I want to be clear this is completely optional. If you win and make no donation, it’s perfectly fine and I won’t know about it anyway. No proof of good deed will be required before you get your prize (I’d love to hear, though, if you do donate something). This is simply my way to hopefully stimulate a little giving for the holidays.

So, back to the giveaway. To enter, leave a comment telling me what you’re relentless about since Connelly has used that word often to describe Harry Bosch. It could be something big or small. I was once in New York City freezing my tail off during its coldest day in 85 years. I got this craving for chicken noodle soup and was relentless about finding it. For whatever reason, no restaurant was serving it that day, just split pea or lentil or cream of one thing or another. I jumped on and off the subway, ducking into different places until I found the perfect chicken noodle and it was worth it.

To be eligible, you also have to:

  • be a subscriber or Twitter follower (tell me which)
  • have U.S./Canada address (no P.O. boxes)

Giveaway ends next Monday, Nov. 22, 5 p.m. PST. Winners will be randomly selected then announced here and on Twitter. I won’t be e-mailing you so please check back to see if you win. Alternate winner(s) will be chosen for any prize(s) not claimed within 48 hours.

Now, let’s see how relentless you are!

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Winners of Michael Connelly’s THE REVERSAL

My randomly selected winners are:

  • Erin
  • Travis
  • Carol M
  • Congrats! Please hit “contact” above and give me your addresses. Hachette will ship each of you a copy of The Reversal as long as I hear from you by midnight PST Sunday, October 10. If not, alternate name(s) will be chosen.

    Thank you to all who entered and shared your great stories. I love doing giveaways not just because I can help put free books in your hands; I really enjoy reading your clever entries.

    If you didn’t win this time, I have other giveaways here.

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    Book Review + Giveaway: Michael Connelly’s THE REVERSAL

    Mickey Haller for the People.

    Say what?

    Haller, the renown defense attorney who fiercely stands for the accused, decides to prosecute a convicted murderer in Michael Connelly’s latest, The Reversal (Oct. 5, Little, Brown).

    Will Sherlock Holmes become friends with Professor Moriarty next?

    The reversal isn’t just Haller’s; the title also refers to a twenty-four-year-old guilty verdict in a murder trial being thrown out. Jason Jessup had been convicted in 1986 of kidnapping and killing a twelve-year-old girl but new DNA evidence reveals the semen found on her dress was not his.

    To avoid any semblance of prejudice, the Los Angeles district attorney brings in Haller as an independent prosecutor to retry Jessup. Haller puts together a crack team consisting of his ex-wife, deputy DA Maggie McPherson, as second chair and Harry Bosch as his investigator. But they face an uphill battle as they find that many witnesses from 1986 have died and the most important one, the victim’s sister, has gone off the grid. Meanwhile, Jessup is out on bail and behaving in mysterious ways, making Haller and company fear something ugly is about to go down, something which may involve their own little girls.

    This book is like an adventure featuring the Justice League or the Avengers, an all-star lineup of lead players from previous stories. Besides Haller, Bosch and McPherson, FBI Agent Rachel Walling also shows up to profile Jessup. (I kept expecting Jack McEvoy the journalist to make an appearance, too.) While it’s exciting to see them all in one place, they form a team that’s almost too powerful, giving them less to overcome in the courtroom (not that everything goes as planned).

    The suspense and obstacles come more from Bosch’s detective work in tracking down former witnesses and shadowing Jessup during his nocturnal activities. Connelly’s meticulous attention to procedural details puts the reader right in Bosch’s shoes. We feel his frustration when he hits road blocks in the cold case and experience his excitement when he makes new discoveries. Connelly also guides us through Los Angeles with a sure hand; his descriptions of Mulholland Drive and the Santa Monica Pier at night are both seductive and sinister.

    But the most important thing is Connelly’s ability to convince us that Haller would work for The Man after two decades representing the underdog. It turns out Haller isn’t all about clever lawyerly tactics—his passion for “a true and just verdict” burns as strongly as Bosch’s. He retains a healthy distrust of the DA’s office while getting schooled by his ex in how the prosecution works. His actions aren’t only believable, they make him a better lawyer and give new depth to his character.

    Nerd verdict: Bosch and Haller join forces for strong Reversal

    The book doesn’t come out until next week but the fantabulous Miriam at Hachette Book Group is allowing me to give away three copies. To enter:

    • be an e-mail subscriber or Twitter follower (tell me which—new subscribers get 1 entry, current followers get 2)
    • leave a comment about something you were sure was true but found out later it wasn’t
    • have U.S./Canada address

    Giveaway ends next Friday, October 8, 5 p.m. PST. Winners will be randomly chosen via Random.org and announced here and on Twitter. I won’t be notifying via e-mail so please check back to see if you’ve won. Winners will have 48 hours to claim the prize before alternate names are chosen.

    Let’s hear about your reversals!

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    L.A. TIMES Festival of Books Slide Show

    As promised, here’s a slide show of the good times I had at the book festival. This was done in fun so please don’t anyone sue me.

    All kidding aside, I know how fortunate I am to have this festival in my backyard every year, even luckier that I have books to read. Thank you to the amazing authors and friends who made this weekend a memorable one for me.

    (To read what I learned at the festival, click here. For Jen’s detailed recap of “The Kingpins” panel, go here.)

    Photos by Jen Forbus, le0pard13, Brett Battles and me, but mostly them.

    [cincopa 10589867]

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    What’s in a Name?

    I recently asked Robert Crais fans in the Craisie Town part of my forum how their feelings about Elvis Cole would be affected if he’d been named something else, like Larry Jones. Blogger le0pard13 said he probably wouldn’t have started reading the books if that were the case, especially if Larry’s partner was named something like Lev Coen instead of Joe Pike.

    This got me thinking about how character names play a large part in determining whether or not we want to read or watch something. Can you imagine Mark Twain’s tale about Huckleberry Finn being called The Adventures of Herbert Melton? Would 007 be as popular if he introduces himself as “Luftenhoser. Stan Luftenhoser”?

    I think for the most part, authors put a lot of thought into character names, trying to make the moniker represent the personality. Crais has said he chose Elvis for his P.I. to let readers know they’re getting someone a little different, not your typical hard-drinking loner detective. Michael Connelly has made known Hieronymous (Harry) Bosch is named after the painter who created visions of chaos because Harry encounters chaos at every murder scene. And I think the last name of Sophie Littlefield‘s Stella Hardesty sounds like “hard as steel,” which she is.

    So, have you ever picked up a book simply because you liked a protagonist’s name? Ever shunned a novel or movie because you didn’t? What if Harry Potter had been Harvey Scarsburn?

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    One Cool DRINK

    Reading a good book is always a pleasure, but there’s something extra exciting about discovering a new author and his smashing debut, a PWA winner for Best First Private Eye Novel. Thomas Kaufman‘s Drink the Tea is a witty, fast-paced mystery that made me hope, only a few pages in, that it’ll be turned into a series.

    Willis Gidney is an orphan who spent his childhood in and out of foster homes, becoming an expert at stealing and lying, heading for a life of crime until he gets taken in by Captain Shadrack Davies of the D.C. Police. The experience changes him, not completely, but enough so that he grows up to be a smart-ass D.C. private eye.

    An old acquaintance, jazz musician Steps Jackson, asks Gidney to find his daughter, Bobbie, the result of a one-night stand twenty-five years ago. Supposed to be a straightforward missing persons case but right away, thugs show up to rough up Gidney, people start dying, and Gidney realizes he’s stumbled upon something which might involve a powerful corporation and a corrupt congressman.

    The story jumps back and forth between the present case and Gidney’s time in foster care, slowly doling out what happened between Gidney and Davies during their short stint together. Gidney has a quick wit, but we find it was born as survival instinct. We get to witness Gidney’s evolution from problem child to a man trying to do the right thing, if sometimes reluctantly.

    Kaufman, an Emmy-winning cinematographer who’s shot shows like The FBI Files and The New Detectives, brings his eye for detail to his writing and excels in showing instead of telling. He describes a picture of a boy in a high-school yearbook thusly:

    His interests included biology, chemistry, debate. He looked apologetic, as though his violin lesson had run over and he’d shown up late to chess club.

    Kaufman didn’t need to write “nerd”; the description couldn’t be clearer. And instead of using variations on the word “big,” the author writes that an internet cafe “had an espresso bar the size of Congress but with less hot air,” and about “a pair of shoes that would have won me free tuition to Clown School.”

    Gidney’s background and sensibilities make him part Elvis Cole, Robert Crais’s wisecracking P.I. who was an old youngster once; and Harry Bosch, Michael Connelly’s foster-care-raised detective whose biggest mystery is his own lineage. Since those two are top of my list of favorite series characters, Gidney is in lofty company indeed.

    Nerd verdict: Drink this

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