Harry Bosch

Detective Hieronymus "Harry" Bosch (play /hˈrɒnɨməs ˈbʃ/) is a literary character created by Michael Connelly in the 1992 novel The Black Echo, and the lead character in a police procedural series now numbering seventeen novels. The novels are more or less coincident in time frame with the year in which they were published.

"Harry", as he is commonly known by his associates, is a veteran police homicide detective with the Los Angeles Police Department. Bosch was named after the 15th century Dutch artist, Hieronymus Bosch.


Biography of the character


Bosch's mother was a prostitute in Hollywood, who was murdered in 1961 when Bosch was 11 years old. His father, who he met later in life, was a powerful defense attorney. He spent his youth in various orphanages and youth halls, as well as with the occasional foster family. After learning of his mother's murder, Bosch, then living at a youth hall, dove to the bottom of the pool and screamed until he ran out of air and then swam back to the surface. This event is referenced during many of the Bosch novels. Bosch later ran away and joined the United States Army while he was still in his teens.

In Vietnam, Bosch was a "tunnel rat" with the 25th Infantry Division – a specialized soldier whose job it was to venture into the maze of tunnels used as barracks, hospitals, and on some occasions, morgues by the Vietcong.

Bosch also has a daughter named Maddie, who he used to see twice a year. Maddie spent most of her time with her mother and Bosch's ex-wife, Eleanor, in Hong Kong. Eleanor, who was a star attraction at a Macau casino, had a personal security guard, Sun Yee, who was also her boyfriend. In an attempt to rescue Maddie from Chinese thugs, Eleanor was killed, and now Maddie lives with her father in L.A.

LAPD career

After returning from Vietnam (going AWOL while on leave in Hawaii at age 18) he joined the LAPD and in the books rising to the rank of Detective III (a position which entails both investigative and supervisory duties and is the LAPD equivalent of Detective Sergeant).

While in the LAPD, Bosch worked in the prestigious Robbery Homicide Division (RHD) for five years, but was drummed out by an Internal Affairs Division investigation involving Bosch's shooting of a suspect (The Dollmaker) who was later linked to nine murders. Following the IAD investigation, which was conducted by Detectives Pierce Lewis and Don Clarke, Bosch was sent to Hollywood Detectives as a homicide investigator. Lewis and Clarke also investigated Bosch in The Black Echo. At one point, Bosch left the LAPD and worked as a private investigator for three years. He left retirement and returned to the LAPD at the conclusion of The Narrows. After his return, Bosch was assigned to RHD's Open-Unsolved Unit, a cold case squad. Bosch transferred out of Open-Unsolved and into Homicide Special during the time between Echo Park and The Overlook.

During his time in the LAPD covered in the novels, Bosch was in Hollywood homicide and worked with Frankie Sheehan (Bosch's partner in RHD, who was later murdered in Angels Flight), Jerry Edgar and Kizmin 'Kiz' Rider, who were the other members of Bosch's team in Hollywood homicide. The DVD that came with The Closers included an excerpt of a speech real-life LAPD Chief William Bratton made at the Police Academy, in which he publicly asked Harry Bosch to return from retirement (Connelly was on the stand behind listening to the speech). In The Overlook, Connelly gave Bratton an approving endorsement (albeit without using his name) for "raising the morale of the rank and file" and for giving "Bosch his job back" (pp. 145–146 of the Vision paperback edition).

In The Closers, Bosch is once again partnered with Rider, while Edgar remains in Hollywood homicide. Bosch remained partnered with Rider until her transfer to the Chief's office after being shot during Echo Park. During The Overlook, Bosch partnered with Detective Ignacio 'Iggy' Ferras, a younger detective with whom Bosch had not yet developed a solid rapport. Not a stranger to being second-guessed, Bosch has been investigated by the LAPD's IAD multiple times, and was always cleared.

Personal characteristics

In all of the books, Bosch lives in a house on stilts off of Woodrow Wilson Drive in the Hollywood Hills. The money that financed Bosch's home came from a production studio for a TV mini-series in which actor Dan Lacey portrays Bosch in a case the detective had worked that involved a serial killer; Bosch also worked as a technical advisor on the mini-series. His house was later damaged during the Northridge earthquake shortly before the book The Last Coyote. After his house was condemned and demolished, he had a new one built on the same road, still facing out over the valley.

Bosch has an active love life; he has had relationships with cops and civilians alike, with usually one love interest per book. Bosch has a daughter, who, as of 9 Dragons, is living with Bosch, after his ex-wife Eleanor Wish (a former FBI agent, ex-con and subsequent professional poker player, whom Bosch met in The Black Echo and married while on a case in Las Vegas, and who left Bosch in Angels Flight), was killed in Hong Kong. Recent stories find Bosch linked in a close relationship with FBI agent Rachel Walling. The liaison formulated in The Narrows and heightened romantically during Echo Park, but Walling broke off the relationship at its conclusion. Walling returned in The Overlook on a strictly professional basis, and she has since resumed a relationship with reporter Jack McEvoy. Walling notes in The Scarecrow that her relationship with Bosch broke up in part because Bosch was still in love with Eleanor Wish.

Bosch stands a few inches short of six feet and is described as wiry. His muscles are like nylon cords, strength concealed by economy of scale. He has a moustache and has brown hair that is by now graying (The Black Echo). Bosch's eyes are the other key aspect of appearance; they are brown and nearly black, and were mentioned often for this reason in A Darkness More Than Night. Connelly gives a good clue as to how he visualizes Bosch when in The Overlook Rachel Walling tells Bosch that "You look like House" (actor Hugh Laurie).

Bosch is always finding himself in conflict with authority, whether with his lieutenant, a Deputy Chief of Police (specifically Irvin Irving, Bosch's recurring nemesis until forced to retire at the end of The Closers, and now a city councilman), or the FBI. His confrontational side is usually attributed to his strong sense of right and wrong, coupled with little regard for his career. At the end of The Overlook, Connelly states this trait can be described in a single word: "relentless".

Bosch has a half-brother, Mickey Haller, a Los Angeles attorney who makes his first appearance in the novel The Lincoln Lawyer, although he briefly appears in a flashback in The Black Ice as a boy. Haller is the legitimate son of the attorney who fathered Bosch. In the second Mickey Haller novel, The Brass Verdict, it is revealed that Harry Bosch has known for years of the relationship, but Haller was unaware of it until the end of the book.[1]

The original Bosch was famous for his religious portrayal of earthly sins (mostly debauchery) and their violent consequences. In several of the books there are parallels suggested between the hell in the paintings and the events of Bosch's life.

Besides the Connelly series, Harry Bosch has made cameos in several other authors' books. Bosch has appeared in books by Paula Woods, Joe Gores, and Robert Crais.[2] Likewise, during an October 16, 2008 book-signing in San Mateo, California, to promote The Brass Verdict, Michael Connelly informed the audience that Bosch also appeared in a cameo without identification in Connelly's novel Chasing the Dime.

Defining traits and experiences

Bosch's personal motto is: Everybody counts or nobody counts. His most defining character trait, it describes his motivation to find the truth in any case, no matter where the investigation leads, and no matter the nature of the victim and the circumstances.

Some of the more significant traits about Bosch that also define his character include:

  • Bosch is left-handed (The Black Ice)
  • Bosch is a registered Independent (The Reversal)
  • His mother was a prostitute and her murder when Harry was 11 was a key reason why he became a homicide detective (The Last Coyote)
  • Has a GED (The Closers)
  • Once stole his foster father's Chevrolet Corvette; he was caught and sent back to live in a youth hall (The Closers)
  • Wears his gun (A Smith & Wesson 5906 semi-automatic until The Overlook, when he carries a Kimber Ultra Carry) on his left hip when he is not expecting a tactical situation, but in instances where he has a chance to plan ahead, he wears his gun in a holster on his right hip, with the butt facing outward (A Darkness More Than Night and The Closers)
  • Owns a Heckler & Koch P7 pistol in Lost Light, and a Glock 27 in The Narrows.
  • Likes jazz (Referenced in every Harry Bosch novel)
  • Is one of the last detectives trained in hypnosis left in the LAPD (The Black Echo)
  • Bosch is the only member of his police academy class still working for the LAPD (The Closers)
  • Bosch has been working for the LAPD for over 30 years (Multiple)
  • In novels in which Bosch is a member of the LAPD the narrative is in the third person voice; in those in which he was separated from the department the narrative is in the first person.
  • Bosch had "HOLD FAST" tattooed on his knuckles when he was sixteen. (City of Bones and The Narrows) But his Drill Sergeant during US Army Basic Training objected to these tattoos on the grounds that "HOLD FAST" was a Navy (Squid) motto. Bosch was ordered to punch a wall until his knuckles bled. When the scabs healed he was ordered to do the same again, so that he ended up with scars where the tattoos had been. (City of Bones)
  • Bosch has a stylized rat tattoo on his right shoulder, indicating his time as a tunnel rat during the Vietnam War (The Black Echo and The Black Ice)
  • His nickname during the Vietnam War was Hari Kari Bosch. (The Overlook)
  • Harry was a good enough athlete that one of his foster fathers adopted him believing his strong left-arm offered potential for a pitching career in professional baseball (The Last Coyote) Legs Lovett
  • Had Bosch taken his father's last name, he would be Harry Haller, the name of the loner/protagonist of Hermann Hesse's novel Steppenwolf.[3]

Novel series

Novel Partner and associates Romantic Interest Occupational Status Rank
The Black Echo (1992) Det. Jerry 'Jed' Edgar; FBI Special Agent Eleanor Wish Eleanor Wish LAPD Hollywood Division Detective III
The Black Ice (1993) Det. Jerry 'Jed' Edgar; Officer Carlos Aguila of the Mexican State Judicial Police Dr. Theresa Corazon, Sylvia Moore LAPD Hollywood Division Detective III
The Concrete Blonde (1994) Det. Jerry 'Jed' Edgar; RHD Det. Frankie Sheehan Sylvia Moore LAPD Hollywood Division Detective III
The Last Coyote (1995) Carmen Hinojos, LAPD psychologist Jasmine "Jazz" Corian ----- On Involuntary Stress Leave from LAPD Hollywood Division
Trunk Music (1997) Det. Jerry 'Jed' Edgar; Det. Kizmin 'Kiz' Rider; FBI Special Agent Roy Lindell Eleanor Wish LAPD Hollywood Division Detective III
Angels Flight (1999) Det. Jerry 'Jed' Edgar; Det. Kizmin 'Kiz' Rider; IAD Det. John Chastain; FBI Special Agent Roy Lindell Eleanor Wish LAPD Hollywood Division Detective III
A Darkness More Than Night (2001) Fmr. FBI Special Agent Terry McCaleb ----- LAPD Hollywood Division Detective III
City of Bones (2002) Det. Jerry 'Jed' Edgar Julia Brasher LAPD Hollywood Division Detective III
Lost Light (2003) FBI Special Agent Roy Lindell; Retired LAPD Detective Lawton 'Law' Cross Eleanor Wish LAPD retired Private Investigator
The Narrows (2004) FBI Special Agent Rachel Walling Rachel Walling LAPD retired Private Investigator
The Closers (2005) Det. Kizmin 'Kiz' Rider Vicki Landreth LAPD RHD Open-Unsolved Unit Detective III
Echo Park (2006) Det. Kizmin 'Kiz' Rider; FBI Special Agent Rachel Walling Rachel Walling LAPD RHD Open-Unsolved Unit Detective III
The Overlook (2007) Det. Ignacio 'Iggy' Ferras; FBI Special Agent Rachel Walling Rachel Walling LAPD RHD Homicide Special Unit Detective III
9 Dragons (2009) Det. Ignacio 'Iggy' Ferras; Det. David Chu; Lawyer Michael 'Mickey' Haller ----- LAPD RHD Homicide Special Unit Detective III
The Drop (2011) Det. David Chu Dr. Hannah Stone LAPD RHD Open-Unsolved Unit Detective III

Additional appearances

  • Cons, Scams & Grifts, by Joe Gores (2001)
  • Chasing the Dime (2002), unnamed cameo
  • The Last Detective, by Robert Crais (2003), unnamed cameo
  • Strange Bedfellows, by Paula Woods (2006)
  • The Brass Verdict (2008)
  • The Reversal (2010)
  • The Fifth Witness (2011)

Short stories

  • "Christmas Even" (in Murder...And All That Jazz, 2004)
  • "Cielo Azul" (in Dangerous Women, 2005)
  • "Angle of Investigation" (in Plots with Guns, 2005)
  • "Suicide Run" (in Hollywood and Crime, 2007)
  • "One Dollar Jackpot" (in Dead Man's Hand, 2007)
  • "Father's Day" (in the Blue Religion, 2008)
  • "Blue and Black" (in Hook, Line & Sinister, 2010)
  • "Blood Washes Off" (in the Rich and the Dead, 2011)

Short story collections

  • Angle of Investigation (2011), includes "Christmas Even", "Father's Day", and the eponymous "Angle of Investigation"[4]
  • Suicide Run (2011), includes "Suicide Run", "Cielo Azul", and "One Dollar Jackpot"[5]


  1. ^ Excerpts From The Brass Verdict
  2. ^ The Wall Street Journal Online - Leisure & Arts
  3. ^ Bertens and D'haen, Contemporary American Crime Fiction, p. 106. Palgrave Macmillan, 2001, ISBN 0333674553, 978-0333674550.
  4. ^ "Angle of Investigation"
  5. ^ "Suicide Run"

External links

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