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The parallels between the life of Harry Bosch and my own

Old Headquarters of the LAPDI was very pleased to hear the news that a TV series based on the Harry Bosch series written by Michael Connelly would soon pilot on Amazon Instant Video.   Hieronymus “Harry” Bosch is a fictional detective for the Los Angeles Police Department, and a character I almost immediately identified with as my alter ego when I started reading the novels way back when.

Bosch was an orphan, a loner and a nonconformist, the kind of guy who had no tolerance for politics and a passionate zeal to clear his cases.  He was the square peg trying to fit into the round hole of the LAPD, navigating a world of constant corruption and bureaucratic ineptness.  It never ceased to amaze me how often Bosch landed in hot water in the course of investigating homicides, not because he had a knack for finding trouble, but that trouble always seemed to find him.

I can relate to that.

Intriguing to me as well was Bosch’s romantic life, a constant series of epic failures, but there was one in particular that would stay with him, a turbulent on and off relationship he had with an FBI agent named Eleanor Wish.  From the very beginning Bosch’s attraction and deep seated feelings for Eleanor proved near fatal, beginning with her betraying his trust, almost singlehandedly destroying his efforts to clear a homicide case, and concluding with… well go read the novels and you’ll see.  I can’t remember all the details, but he had married and tried to make it work with her, only to have the bottom fall out when she left him so she could pursue her career ambitions as a (wait for it):  professional gambler.

Yep, that sounds about right to me.

My favorite novel from the series would have to be The Last Coyote, where Bosch decks one of his superiors after he ruined Bosch’s chances to get a confession out of a suspect.  Suspended from duty, he is forced to see the department therapist, and from there we’re able to peel back a few more layers of his troubled psyche.  It was during this time that Bosch decided to dig into his past and find out the truth about his mother (a prostitute who lost custody of Bosch and was murdered only a year later).

One of the scenes in the book that continued to stick with me involved his visit to a records office to obtain crucial files while investigating his mother’s death.  The female clerk here was described as a portly gatekeeping hen so accustomed to routine and ritual that she could zoom to and from her desk despite a clearance of only a few inches for her wide girth.

Since Bosch was suspended, he had no official sway with the cantankerous woman,  so he  faked making a call to a reporter that would have landed her in a world of hurt if she didn’t cooperate:

He gave her the names and she got up angrily and silently to leave the room. She could barely fit around the desk but made the maneuver like a ballerina, the pattern instilled in her body’s memory by repeated practice.

“How long will this take?” he asked.

“As long as it takes,” she answered, regaining some of her bureaucratic bluster at the door.

“No, Mona, you got ten minutes. That’s all. After that, you better not come back ’cause Whitey’s gonna be sitting here waiting for you.”

She stopped and looked at him. He winked.

After she left he got up and went around the side of the desk. He pushed it about two inches closer to the opposite wall, narrowing her path back to her chair.

She was back in seven minutes, carrying a piece of paper. But Bosch could see it was trouble. She had a triumphant look on her face. He thought of that woman who had been tried a while back for cutting off her husband’s {privates}. Maybe it was the same face she had when she ran out the door with it.

“Well, Detective Borsch, you’ve got a little problem.”

“What is it?”

She started around the desk and immediately rammed her thick thigh into its Formica-topped corner. It looked more embarrassing than painful. She had to flail her arms for balance and the impact of the collision shook the desk and knocked her container over. The red liquid began leaking out of the straw onto the blotter.


She quickly moved the rest of the way around the desk and righted the container. Before sitting down she looked at the desk, suspicious that it had been moved.

“Are you all right?” Bosch asked.

Classic.  I laughed so hard when I read this, knowingly nodding my head at Bosch’s mischievous side because it’s exactly the kind of thing I would have done as well.  I’m not sure what drives it, but I suspect beneath the sophomoric acts there’s an alluring urge to undermine the bureaucratic machinery Bosch and I must confront on a regular basis, or maybe a defense mechanism for dealing with the all around stupidity of the human race.

Just to name one example of my own, I once removed the wheels from a chair a coworker of mine sat on, who had a grating habit of wheeling everywhere in the office instead of just standing up and moving about.  He comes in the next day, sits down and begins to wheel… only to tip over and crash on the floor.

You can see why they love me at work.  (Although I’m relatively certain he never did find out who took the wheels.)

Anyhoo, it’ll be exciting to see how many of these same endearing traits I so identified with Bosch will carry over to a TV series, even though I’m not entirely thrilled who they picked to play him (Titus Welliver).  Not that I don’t think he’s a good actor, he just doesn’t immediately strike me as a hard boiled detective with a tormented soul, a smart mouth, and a proclivity for getting into all kinds of serious trouble, especially when I can’t get it out of my head that he was the creepy creepy black smoke thingie in the show, Lost.  But who knows, maybe I’ll be surprised.

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