Harry Bosch Comes to the (Computer) Screen

In 1992, former Los Angeles Times  police reporter Michael Connelly (above, right ) published The Black Echo, a taut, compulsively readable detective thriller about a quirky L.A. homicide detective named Harry Bosch. A former Vietnam War tunnel rat, Bosch was emotionally troubled by his war experiences. As brooding as he was, though, Bosch was a determined, smart detective who did rest until he solved a heinous murder.

Since 1992,  Connelly has written a total of eighteen Harry Bosch detective procedurals, including the latest The Black Box, which came out in 2012. We have reviewed all eighteen in The VVA Veteran ‘s Books in Review magazine column and on our Books in Review II  web page. All of those reviews have been highly favorable, as have nearly all the other critics’s reactions to the Bosch detectives. The books also have become huge bestsellers, and it seemed all but certain there would be a movie (or movies) based on them.

Connelly, in fact, sold the rights to the Harry Bosch character to Paramount Pictures not long after The Black Echo (which contains plenty of references to Bosch’s Vietnam War experiences) came out. “Many efforts were made, and many screenplays were written, some by Oscar-winning writers, ” Connelly told the L.A. Times recently.  “But they ultimately never came to fruition. And Harry stayed on the shelf for two decades.”

Connelly gave up on theHollywoodsystem, got the rights to his character back, and has just co-written and co-executive produced  “Bosch, ” a new drama pilot. It’s not on TV, though, or on cable, pay cable, Netflix, or pay-per-view on-line. To view “Bosch” you do so through Amazon Prime, where it has been streaming since February 6.

Watching the pilot, which stars  Titus Welliver   (above, left ) in the title role,  is a treat for Harry Bosch fans as our flawed hero and his LAPD world come to life remarkably vividly. The plot is an amalgam of Boschian adventures. The one-hour show begins with a flashback of Harry tracking down a criminal and killing him in a dark alley. Did he do it in self defense or out of pure hatred? He is exonerated by the LAPD, but faces a civil wrongful death lawsuit. Meanwhile, Bosch gets enmeshed in a perplexing murder case.

All of the elements of the novels shine through in this dark film. Welliver is angst-ridden and angry—and devoted to solving the murder case he’s working on. The other actors are quite good, including Troy Evans, a VVA member and recipient of the VVA Excellence in the Arts Award, who has a small role as a grumpy detective.

The directing is tight. The atmosphere of the movie feels like a Harry Bosch novel. Every scene was shot in Los Angeles, adding to the verisimilitude. A Harry Bosch fan couldn’t ask for more—except for more episodes, which will be forthcoming.

By the way, Harry’s service in the Vietnam War is not mentioned in the pilot; there’s a one hundred per cent chance it will be as the series continues.

—Marc Leepson

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