Michael Connelly, the author of the Harry Bosch series of books, is a fan of Raymond Chandler. I was privileged to hear Connelly and Robert Crais discussing Chandler, his life and work, one evening, so I know this for a fact. If I hadn’t attended that lecture, I’d have known it anyway because of what Chandler wrote in his famous article in The Atlantic Monthly (November, 1945), “The Simple Art of Murder”:
- In everything that can be called art there is a quality of redemption. It may be pure tragedy, if it is high tragedy, and it may be pity and irony, and it may be the raucous laughter of the strong man. But down these mean streets a man must go who is not himself mean, who is neither tarnished nor afraid. The detective in this kind of story must be such a man. He is the hero, he is everything. He must be a complete man and a common man and yet an unusual man. He must be, to use a rather weathered phrase, a man of honor — by instinct, by inevitability, without thought of it, and certainly without saying it. He must be the best man in his world and a good enough man for any world.
Connelly’s Heironymous (Harry) Bosch fits Chandler’s description to a T. Bosch is the opposite of the world-weary detective. He’s keenly and deeply into the world, its beauties and its horrors, its moral order and its politics. He’ll bend the rules but he won’t bend his principles, even as he plays the larger game in which he weighs truth against truth, good against the greater good.
Bosch’s world is nuanced, not unrelentingly bleak, certainly not rose-colored, but a subtle interweaving of good and bad and love and hate and manipulation and betrayal and sacrifice and forgiveness. And as Chandler noted, redemption, as every day Harry Bosch walks the razor’s edge as “the best man in his world.”
Amazon’s rendition of Connelly’s character is spot-on. Titus Welliver hits all the right notes in his portrayal of Bosch, perfectly balancing the feuding forces within Bosch’s psyche and delivering a performance that is riveting in its subtlety. Bosch is a true bright spot in the television landscape. I fervently hope that Amazon delivers more.