I really don’t care what Harry Bosch had for dinner

I like to listen to Harry Bosch novels on my endless commute.  They don’t require deep thinking, and the narrators are really good. One problem with audio books, though, is you can’t skim.  And there are lots of times in a Harry Bosch novel where I really want to skim.

I won’t bother discussing the endless descriptions of Bosch listening to CDs of jazz performances.  These are by definition boring.  Instead I want to talk about the endless descriptions of the restaurants he goes to and what he orders and what toppings he has on his pizza and how much macaroni and cheese is left over after dinner with his daughter and ARGGH!  Make it stop!

There is, I’m sure, a rationale for this obsession with Harry Bosch and food.  Presumably Connelly wants to show us how cops live in present-day LA.  Here are their hangouts.  Here’s where they eat when they go to court or the shooting range or the forensics lab.  And here’s the kind of food a typical cop likes to eat.  But I don’t care.  Just tell the story.

I have a personal rule for writing that says I don’t put in anything that I’m unlikely to read in someone else’s novel.   Five hundred words about a sunset?  No thank you.  How well a certain Merlot goes with steak tips?  Spare me.  Nothing about women’s shoes.  And, of course, nothing about jazz.  Never, ever, anything about jazz.


“I could kill you now, Detective Bosch. But that would be too easy.”

I’ve been listening to The Black Box, a Harry Bosch novel by Michael Connelly.  It turns out he uses an “I could kill you now, Mr. Bond” setup for his climax.  I expected more of Mr. Connelly, whose strong suit is his plotting.  Harry Bosch has been taken prisoner by the killer he has been tracking down.  He is at the killer’s mercy.  The killer points a gun at him.  It’s all over for Bosch!  But what does the killer do?  Instead of killing Harry, he handcuffs him to a wooden post in a barn and leaves him to go kill some other folks.  Why?  Connelly has Bosch come up with a reason eventually, but boy, is it lame.

So Bosch is left by himself, and guess what?  Spoiler alert!!  It turns out the Bosch is an expert at unlocking handcuffs with random stuff!  He gets hold of a watch from a corpse the killer left at his feet and uses the winding pin to escape from the cuffs.  (The watch itself has been brought to our attention with a standard Chekhov’s gun maneuver — why, look at that interesting watch that this guy who is obviously going to get killed is wearing!)

This sort of thing is fine in The Heat and James Bond movies, where plausibility just doesn’t matter.  But it was just too over-the-top for this sort of novel.  Connelly can do better.