A Journey Into the Heart of Bosch Country
To most people, visiting Los Angeles is a journey into the heart of the movie industry. But for me, a trip to the City of Angles is a tour of the Michael Connelly industry.
If you’ve read any posts on this site, you know I consider Connelly the best crime writer going. (Jo Nesbo is probably the only crime author who comes close in my books.) So when we visited California recently to promote my own crime novel The Haight, we kept an eye open for landmarks familiar to the likes of Harry Bosch and Mickey Haller.
Like hunters on safari, we found our first tracks in the pavement outside the historic Vroman’s Bookstore, where Connelly’s name is etched into the concrete.
Vroman’s, by the way, was one of our favorite bookstores in Greater Los Angeles, along with The Last Bookstore, where Connelly used to sit and work on the early Bosch novels.
I could spend a day in The Last Bookstore, but I only had an hour – long enough to see the sight, get told off for photographing with a flash, and buy a first edition of The Lincoln Lawyer for $4. (The store also has a really good wing for modern firsts, and if I were a bit wealthier would have been tempted to buy their copy of Look Homeward, Angel.)
The downtown core is saturated in memories of Bosch. Just to be clear, I didn’t research my tour before visiting L.A., so I could hit all the Bosch hotspots. But once we were downtown, a few places leapt out of the tourist map because I remembered them from the books and TV series.
Most prominent was Angel’s Flight, the funicular train whose name is the title of a Bosch novel, and which features so prominently in Season 4 of the Bosch TV series.
We paid a buck and took a ride on the train and here’s what struck me – it’s tiny. Angel’s Flight is like a toy, something akin to the teacup ride at Disneyland. It’s the last tourist trap you’d think of using as a setting for a crime novel. But Connelly made it work.
From Angel’s Flight, it’s a short walk to the Bradbury Building. This elegant edifice also appeared in the most recent Bosch TV series, though no one steps into its elegant lobby and thinks of Bosch. No, it’s where Roy Batty stalked Deckard in The Blade Runner.
As we toured downtown L.A. – easily done on foot, for free, in a single awe-struck day – we caught sundry glimpses of Boschdom. We traveled to the top of City Hall and saw the courthouse. We passed the new police station, and pined for the old Parker Center. We saw the Los Angeles Times, where a fictional Keisha Russell and real-life Michael Connelly once toiled.
My most memorable encounter with the World of Connelly didn’t come on this visit but an earlier trip to L.A. several years ago. My kids wanted to see the Hollywood sign, so I was driving along Mulholland Drive trying to find a vantage point from which we could see the famous nine letters on a hillside. And we drove past Woodrow Wilson Drive, winding up a hill.
As we drove along, my wife and kids were looking to the left, search for the sign. But I was gazing up to the right. And then I saw it and smiled. There were a few cantilever houses sticking out from the hillside but I was pretty sure one of them had to be Harry Bosch’s house.