Author Talk: December 1, 2011
In Michael Connelly’s new Harry Bosch novel, THE DROP, the LAPD homicide detective simultaneously takes on two cases. Both deal with shocking deaths, and both go back years --- even decades --- into the past. In this interview, Connelly sheds light on the triple meaning of the title. He also discusses the extensive research he conducts through real crime cases, how he balances Harry Bosch with the protagonist of the Lincoln Lawyer series, Mickey Haller, and the evolution of Bosch’s character over the past 20 years.
Question: In THE DROP, Harry Bosch is actively working two different cases, which you’ve said is an accurate representation of real detective work. How challenging was that to write and keep track of?
Michael Connelly: Since Harry Bosch is in a cold case squad and so many of the cases involve DNA matching, I held the image of the double helix of a DNA strand in my mind and viewed it as two different stories twisting around each other but not connecting. I think the biggest challenge was making sure one story line didn’t end too much in front of the other. I had a lot of help from my editors on that.
Q: The word “Drop” has multiple meanings in this book. Can you explain the various meanings?
MC: I like titles that mean various things at various times. THE DROP comes from both story tracks and Harry Bosch as well. One track is about a cold case that takes off when DNA from a drop of blood found on a victim 22 years ago is connected to a sexual predator. In the other track a man has dropped from the top floor of the Chateau Marmont hotel, and Harry has to find out if he was pushed or he slipped or he jumped. Lastly, a lot of the book centers on Harry’s future as a police detective. He is on something called the DROP, which stands for Deferred Retirement Option Plan, and he is seeking an extension so he can keep doing what he considers his mission in life --- catching killers.
Q: You do a lot of research for your novels and talk extensively with real LAPD detectives. Were there any real crime cases that influenced the story in THE DROP?
MC: There were tangential influences. While I was researching and writing this book, the LAPD captured an alleged serial killer called the Grim Sleeper. They found hundreds of photos of women in his possession, and the task was to try to identify these women and find out what happened to them. The case is mentioned in the book and something along similar lines occurs as well. Additionally, one of the two tracks of the book was initially suggested to me by a police officer familiar with my books. It wasn’t based on a real case, just his suggestion.
Q: Earlier this year you published a Lincoln Lawyer novel, THE FIFTH WITNESS. Is it difficult to move between your two lead characters, Harry Bosch and Mickey Haller?
MC: It just takes a deep cleansing breath and an about face. I like both characters a lot, and they are different in that they have different goals when they work a case. I think I have a pretty good understanding of both so it is not too difficult to drop into a story featuring either one or both.
Q: THE DROP is the 17th book to feature Harry Bosch. Did you ever imagine you’d still be writing about him as a 60-year-old detective?
MC: No, I didn’t imagine this for a minute. It is hard to believe. Anyone who loves crime fiction and thinks about writing it has to consider a series because series fiction is inescapable in the genre. So no doubt when I was writing the first Harry Bosch book 20 years ago, I was hoping that it wouldn’t be the only Harry Bosch book. But never in my wildest imagination --- and it is pretty wild --- did I think he would have this sort of literary life. I really treasure it. It has been a wonderful opportunity to write a man and a city evolving over a significant slice of time. I am of course hoping to keep it going, and that is why in THE DROP there is a subplot about Harry extending his stay in the LAPD and carrying his mission further. He questions whether he still has his edge and what it takes to carry the badge and the gun, but ultimately he proves what I hope every book and the whole series proves: that Harry is relentless. The bottom line is, 40 years old or 60 years old, I wouldn’t want Harry Bosch coming after me.
© Copyright 2011, Michael Connelly. All rights reserved.