Friday, February 27, 2015

Just for Openers



I was contacted in mid-January of this year by Adam Thompson, “an editor and writer at The Wall Street Journal,” who told me via e-mail that he was “pondering doing a piece on people who are able to find the most obscure intros to TV shows and put them online.” He was referring to The Rap Sheet’s YouTube page. “I found you after a search for the Scarecrow & Mrs. King intro,” Thompson explained, “and was kind of amazed at the number of intros you’d posted. Would you have a few moments to tell me about this? How many you’ve posted, how long it takes to find these things, whether there’s a missing intro out there that you’re trying especially hard to find, etc.?”

Although I thought this was a rather odd subject for the Journal to tackle. I was glad to answer his questions. A month and a half have passed now, though, since I did that, and there’s been no sign of the article Thompson proposed. So I figure his interest has waned. Nonetheless, I put some effort into responding to Thompson’s query; and since I have indeed tried to develop The Rap Sheet’s YouTube page over time, I thought you might be interested in what I told him.
I created that YouTube “channel” you came across as an entertaining supplement to my award-winning crime-fiction blog, The Rap Sheet (http://therapsheet.blogspot.com/). I have long been a fan of vintage TV mystery and crime dramas, and every once in a while I’d come across the main title sequence from one of those shows on YouTube. Finally, in 2010, I decided to collect a few of them. That enterprise grew and grew, until now I have more than 300 such opening sequences posted.

I don’t spend a lot of time trying to expand the offerings on that page, but I have accumulated more than 600 subscribers over the years, so I guess I’m doing enough to please some people. Probably folks much like me, who remember these old shows and get a kick out of seeing at least some portion of them resurrected. I’m not in the questionable business of uploading whole episodes of classic programs onto YouTube; that would seem to be an obvious violation of copyrights. I see what I do as a small tribute to some older shows that many viewers have never heard of, but would do well to investigate further. Use of these clips is for historical and entertainment purposes only, and is not meant to establish ownership of such materials.

As I said, it has taken me years to accumulate all these series intros, but I don’t devote a lot of energy to the game. I check in regularly on YouTube and use Google alerts, looking for the TV intros I remember best and would like to showcase for Rap Sheet readers. By that means I have located most of the entries on my wish list, including the hard-to-find openings from the 1976 private-eye series City of Angels (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZGcaFtxJH8A), the 1982-1983 comedy-drama Tucker’s Witch (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7buWx-U_-so), the 2001 cop show Big Apple (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xPA-HBkE2g4), and the 1974-1975 historical crime series, The Manhunter (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3fEorRm_90c).

There are still a number of main title sequences I’d like to add to my collection. For instance, I haven’t yet managed to dig up the original, 1972-1973 opening from The NBC Wednesday Mystery Movie “wheel series” (with theme music by Quincy Jones) -- though I have posted a later version of that opening (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P9IGmzsX8ek). I’m also still on the hunt for the introductions from Dog and Cat (1977, starring Lou Antonio and Kim Basinger), Chase (1973-1974, starring Mitchell Ryan), Caribe (1975, starring Stacy Keach), Dellaventura (1997-1998, starring Danny Aiello), and Michael Hayes (1997-1998, starring David Caruso). But give me time. I’m patient, and these intros have a tendency to pop up on the Web when you least expect to see them. There always seems to be someone out there with access to old shows and the time to upload them to YouTube.

Thank goodness.
Since I wrote to Thompson, I have managed to locate those hard-to-find openings to Dog and Cat and Dellaventura, but I’m still searching for the rest. Let me know if you spot them.

Good-bye, Leonard Nimoy (1931-2015)



READ MORE:Leonard Nimoy, Spock of Star Trek, Dies at 83,” by Virginia Heffernan (The New York Times); “Star Trek Is Great, and Leonard Nimoy’s Spock Was the Greatest Thing About It,” by Matthew Yglesias (Vox); “Leonard Nimoy, R.I.P.,” by Michael Hadley (It’s About TV!); “Mort: Mr. Spock,” by Don Herron (Up and Down These Mean Streets); “A Word About Leonard Nimoy,” by Jeri Westerson (Getting Medieval); “The Iconic ‘Live Long and Prosper’ Hand Gesture Was Originally a Jewish Sign,” by Daven Hiskey (Today I Found Out); “How Leonard Nimoy Made Spock an American Jewish Icon,” by Matthew Rozsa (Salon); “Leonard Nimoy Dies at 83, Dabbled in Spy Entertainment,” by Bill Koenig (The Spy Command); “R.I.P., Leonard Nimoy: We’ll Always Have Paris,” by Matthew Bradford/Tanner (Double O Section); “Leonard Nimoy, You Will Be Sorely Missed,” by Paul Morris (Little Things); “‘I Have Been--and Always Shall Be--Your Friend,’” by Josh Marshall (Talking Points Memo); “Remembering Leonard Nimoy, 1931-2015” (StarTrek.com).

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Watch for Your Bouchercon Ballot

Bouchercon board member-at-large John Purcell contacted me the other day, asking if I could alert folks who were on hand for 2014’s “world mystery convention” in Long Beach, California, or have registered for this coming October’s event in Raleigh, North Carolina, to the imminent distribution of Anthony Award ballots. Those ballots will be sent via e-mail this year, and convention organizers want to be sure recipients keep their eyes open for them. Here’s the press release explaining how things will work:
To all Bouchercon attendees:

If you were registered for the Long Beach Bouchercon last year, or the one upcoming in Raleigh, you will be receiving ballots in a day or so (Saturday, Feb. 28) to nominate books and stories for the 2015 Anthonys to be awarded in Raleigh in October.

They are trying something new, and testing the process for future Bouchercons, using a survey site called SurveyMonkey to send and collate the nominations. Those who have attended past Bouchercons may be familiar with the surveys you received afterwards. (Some of you may have opted out of surveys, and if so, you won’t receive the ballot unless you opt back in.)

However, the links to the ballots are being sent via e-mail, and e-mails being what they are, it will be inevitable that many won’t receive them because of spam filters, firewalls, and other reasons. So if you can set your e-mail [preferences] and servers to allow mail from SurveyMonkey (www.surveymonkey.com) or Bouchercon or Anthony Ballots, or just check your spam traps, that will hopefully cut down on undelivered ballots.

If you want some further info, and a sneak peak at the ballot worksheet, check out http://www.bouchercon.info/process.html.

Remember, you are all members of Bouchercon, and the related success of the Anthonys, being fan-based awards, are directly related to your participation.

Happy nominating, and thank you!
One final bit of information, picked up from the main Bouchercon site: “If you do not receive your e-mail from SurveyMonkey by 6:00 p.m., Sunday, March 1, please e-mail B.G. Ritts with your name and whether you were at Long Beach or are registered for Raleigh. If registered at both, you will only receive one ballot.”

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Bond Babes Invade Berlin



Seven long years ago, I wrote in The Rap Sheet about British artist Michael Gillette’s outstanding illustrations for Penguin UK’s re-releases of Ian Fleming’s James Bond novels. In 2012, I followed that up with this post in my other blog, Killer Covers, showcasing all of those Gillette fronts. I’ve since purchased several of the books in that line, but thought my writing about them was over.

However, The Book Bond--John Cox’s fine Agent 007-obsessed blog--today alerted me to the existence of still more work Gillette has accomplished for James Bond novels, this time for German editions of John Gardner’s 14 original Bond continuation tales. You may recall that Gardner’s Bond works began with License Renewed (1981) and concluded with COLD (1996, published in the States as Cold Fall). Thus far, Gillette has created original artwork for five of those, all being published by Cross Cult: Icebreaker (Eisbrecher in German), License Renewed (Kernschmelze), For Special Services (Der Kunstsammler), Role of Honor (Ein Frage der Ehre), and Nobody Lives for Ever (Nieman Lebt Ewig). I’m embedding the façades here, for your delight.





Additionally, Gillette produced a new front for Cross Cult’s 2014 release of Colonel Sun, the very first James Bond continuation novel, published in 1968 and written by English fictionist-critic Kingsley Amis (the father of modern author Martin Amis) under a pseudonym, Robert Markham. For that same publisher, he redesigned his own cover for On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, which I considered beautiful to begin with, but which the artist ultimately thought depicted a woman, the Contessa Teresa “Tracy” di Vicenzo, who seemed “a little too demure to be the one to take [Bond’s] heart all the way to the altar.” The reimagined version--displayed on the right, below--“has more allure.” (Note that this is the second shot Gillette took at this revision; a previous version showed Tracy as a brunette, rather than a blonde. He must have been imagining the character as played by Diana Rigg in the 1969 big-screen version of On Her Majesty’s Secret Service.)



Count on me to keep my eyes open for what could be nine more tantalizing Gillette covers of Gardner’s Bond books in the future. I only wish these were all available in the States, in English.

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Bullet Points: ... And the Kitchen Sink Edition



• It has been far too long since I last put up a “copycat covers” post here in The Rap Sheet; I hope to resurrect that series in the near future. Meanwhile, though, I can’t help but mention the pair of book fronts shown above. The one on the left comes from the 1999 Orion UK edition of Dead Souls, Ian Rankin’s 10th John Rebus novel and one of those that was current at the time I interviewed him back in 1999. The façade on the right appears on Tell Tale (Avon UK), the new, fourth Detective Inspector Charlotte Savage novel by Mark Sennen. It seems that lowly, windblown tree on both is much in demand. But then, tree fronts have always been very popular in the crime-fiction field.

Peter James, the UK author best known for penning a series of novels about Brighton-based Detective Superintendent Roy Grace (Want You Dead, You Are Dead, etc.) is “the best crime author of all time”? Yes, according to a recent poll conducted by bookseller W.H. Smith. A post in that British retailer’s blog reports the 66-year-old James “has effortlessly stolen the crown with an incredible number of votes.” Effortlessly? Really? That seems unusual, given the caliber of his rivals for this honor. Here’s the top-20 list of vote-getters:

1. Peter James
2. James Patterson
3. Val McDermid
4. Ian Rankin
5. Agatha Christie
6. Martina Cole
7. Sheila Quigley
8. R.C. Bridgestock
9. Karin Slaughter
10. Tess Gerritsen
11. Mark Billingham
12. Patricia Cornwell
13. Ruth Rendell
14. Karen Rose
15. Chris Carter
16. Lee Child
17. Simon Kernick
18. P.D. James
19. Thomas Harris
20. Stuart MacBride

Obviously, this wasn’t a scientific survey, but a popularity contest--and a British-centric one at that. Still, I’m rather shocked to spot a couple of the names featured among these 20 (remind me who they are again?), and to see how many writers well deserving of reader approbation didn’t make the cut. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle came in at No. 21, while others find places even further down in the roster: Dennis Lehane (24), Michael Connelly (39), Raymond Chandler (47), Louise Penny (58), Dorothy L. Sayers (61), Stieg Larsson (68), John le Carré (87), Ellis Peters (89), John Harvey (103), and James Lee Burke (104). What of Ross Macdonald, though? Or Dashiell Hammett and Georges Simenon? Or Rex Stout and Philip Kerr? How about Elmore Leonard, Robert B. Parker, and Maj Sjöwall and Per Wahlöö? Or James McClure, Max Allan Collins, and Robert Wilson?

• Next week will offer the “Classic TV Blogathon” (February 24-26), comprising retrospectives on series ranging from The Avengers and Ellery Queen to Moonlighting and Blacke’s Magic. You’ll find the schedule of posts and essential links here.

• Dynamite Entertainment’s new line of Shaft comic books, by writer David F. Walker and artist Bilquis Evely, is among five finalists for the first Dwayne McDuffie Award for Diversity. As the blog Hero Complex explains, “The honor is named after ... a prolific writer who co-founded Milestone Media and its popular menagerie of heroes. … He died in 2011 at age 49 of complications after undergoing emergency heart surgery.” The winner will be announced on February 28 during the Long Beach Comics Expo in Southern California.

• Speaking of Shaft, did you know that New Line Cinema has acquired the movie rights to Ernest Tidyman’s black private eye, John Shaft, and is planning to reboot that blaxploitation series begun in the 1970s? Sigh … Why can’t we simply be happy with Richard Roundtree’s original three Shaft films or, better yet, Tidyman’s seven Shaft novels? Must Hollywood try to squeeze another ounce of blood from the character once hailed as “hotter than Bond, cooler than Bullitt”? Samuel L. Jackson’s effort to reinvigorate the franchise in 2000 was painful to watch. Do Shaft fans (myself included) have to cringe again at whatever New Line might present?

• In a BBC Radio documentary, novelist William Boyd (Restless, Solo) investigates the case of Helen MacInnes, a renowned author of mid-20th-century espionage fiction. Unfortunately, this segment will be available for only the next three weeks, so click here to listen. Now!

• The opening sequence from Dog and Cat, a short-lived 1977 ABC-TV crime drama starring Lou Antonio and Kim Basinger--embedded
video
on the right--is just one of several new additions to The Rap Sheet’s YouTube page.

• A year and a half ago, the blog Criminal Element brought to readers an e-book collection of abbreviated crime stories called Malfeasance Occasional: Girl Trouble. The M.O., as its editors called it, was supposed to be a thrice-yearly publication, but after that initial issue, it dropped off the map. Now, though, it’s back--sort of. Rather than trying to assemble short-story anthologies, it sounds as if the blog’s editors want to solicit short fiction several times annually and ask Criminal Element readers to choose their favorites among each set of submissions. The first deadline for stories under this new arrangement is Friday, March 6. Entries should run no more than 1,000 to 1,500 words in length and be built around the theme “Long Gone.” If you’re interested in contributing a story, read the guidelines here. A tally of finalists should be announced on March 20, at which time online voting will begin. The tale receiving the most votes will be known by April 3, and posted on April 17 for free reading. After which this submission/review/voting process will begin again.

• Congratulations to The Thrilling Detective Web Site! It’s creator and editor, Kevin Burton Smith, claims that almost 17-year-old invaluable online resource for crime-fiction enthusiasts now has “over 3,000 fictional private eyes” in its listings.

• I was sorry to read, on The Gumshoe Site, that 58-year-old author Tony Hays “died on January 25 in Luxor, Egypt, where he fell ill on vacation.” Blogger Jiro Kimura goes on to explain that
He was working in Saudi Arabia teaching English. He [had] published two Who’s-Who-Dunit novels featuring known literary characters: Murder on the Twelfth Night (with William Shakespeare) and Murder in the Latin Quarter (with Ernest Hemingway and James Joyce; both from Iris Press in 1993). After the standalone novel The Trouble with Patriots (Bridgeworks, 2002), which features a Tennessee-native journalist like the author, he launched the four-book Arthurian series featuring Malgwyn ap Cuneglas, counselor to King Arthur, starting with The Killing Way (2009) and ending with The Stolen Bride (2012; all four from Forge). His last novel, Shakespeare No More, will be published in September by Perseverance Press. It was supposed to be the first of a projected series featuring Shakespeare’s friend, a Stratford constable.
Hays was kind enough to contribute a “forgotten books” essay to The Rap Sheet in 2011, looking back at Ellery Queen’s The Egyptian Cross Mystery (1932). He will be missed.

• A belated R.I.P. to Lizabeth Scott, the Pennsylvania-born actress heralded by novelist and movie historian Eddie Muller as “one of film noir’s most indelible dames.” According to Wikipedia, Scott starred in more pictures of that sort than any other female performer, including Dead Reckoning (1947) with Humphrey Bogart and Too Late for Tears (1949) with Don DeFore. Later, she took roles in such TV series as Burke’s Law and Adventures in Paradise. Scott is said to have died of congestive heart failure on January 31. She was 92 years old.

• Brash Books’ recent reissuing of Mark Smith’s 1973 novel, The Death of the Detective, a National Book Award finalist, has prompted the Los Angeles Review of Books to publish a lengthy and very interesting reconsideration of Smith’s best-known work. Michael Barry concludes, “The Death of the Detective is a disturbing, challenging, sometimes demented novel, but it is a gloriously ambitious one. It won’t be to every taste, but it clearly doesn’t expect to be.”

• If you’re planning (or just hoping) to attend next month’s Left Coast Crime convention in Portland, Oregon (March 12-15), note that a fuller schedule of panel events has been posted.

• Meanwhile, life appears to have stirred once more in the Bouchercon 2015 blog, after a year-and-a-half-long silence. Stacy Cochran, chair of that convention set to take place in Raleigh, North Carolina, from October 8 to 11, has posted a panel request deadline, info about hotel reservations, and news that “We’re presently at 660 registered attendees, and so we are on target to hit our window of 1,300-1,500 attendees by our convention dates.” If you haven’t already signed up to attend, you can do so here.

This trailer for Guy Ritchie’s big-screen version of The Man from U.N.C.L.E. suggests the film, scheduled for release on August 14, may not be precisely what fans of the original Robert Vaughn/David McCallum series had in mind. But it still looks like a stylish, lighthearted flick. Let’s hope all the best parts aren’t in the trailer.

• And it’s too bad neither Vaughn nor McCallum was asked to take on a cameo role in the picture. It would have been a respectful touch.

• It’s good to see that Loren D. Estleman’s ambitious 2013 standalone novel, The Confessions of Al Capone--one of my favorite crime novels of that year--is finally due out in paperback next week. As I remarked in Kirkus Reviews, “Confessions [is] something special among historical crime yarns.” Check it out.

• Given the plethora of Star Trek fans in the world, this book seems destined to become a best-seller in early September.

• The pop-culture site Buzzfeed hails15 TV Shows You Should Totally Be Watching But Probably Aren’t.” That list includes 12 Monkeys, Girlfriends’ Guide to Divorce, Forever, and Man Seeking Woman, none of which I’ve seen. However, it also champions ABC’s Agent Carter, an eight-episode action-adventure series, set right after the conclusion of World War II, that I have so far watched all the way through, with pleasure. Inspired by a character in Marvel Comics’ Captain America series, this program stars British-American actress Hayley Atwell (Any Human Heart, Falcón, Restless) as uncommonly capable U.S. government agent Peggy Carter. But it is also made highly watchable by James D’Arcy, playing a butler with a hidden well of talents, Lyndsy Fonseca as a fast-talking waitress who befriends Peggy, and Shea Whigham as Peggy’s sexist boss. The final episode of this debut season for Agent Carter will be broadcast next Tuesday, February 24. If you haven’t been watching, but appreciate entertaining historical espionage series with comic edges, it may be time to binge-watch this show online in anticipation of next week’s finale. I only hope Agent Carter will return for additional seasons.

• By the way, Jake Hinkson has written some good posts about Agent Carter for Criminal Element, one per episode. You’ll find them here.

• Hinkson has also posted, in that same blog, the opening entry in what’s supposed to be “a series celebrating the career of one of mystery fiction’s true giants,” Margaret Millar, who was born 100 years ago this month. Click here to read his look back at Do Evil in Return, which Millar first saw published in 1950.

• Following up on his announcement earlier in the week of nominees for New Zealand’s 2015 Ngaio Marsh Award for Best Crime Novel, Craig Sisterson points me at this piece from Wellington’s Dominion Post that recounts the confusion Marsh’s moniker provoked in readers, especially in America. “Had I guessed the trouble my name was going to cause a lot of people on the other side of the world,” said the author--who died 33 years ago this week--“I would have changed it to something easier when I began writing books.”

• As a young boy, I would have loved to own this lunchbox. Heck, I wouldn’t mind having it now, either.

• You probably didn’t notice, but Bill Koenig’s The HMSS Weblog--which embarked on its own course last September, after its associated Web site, Her Majesty’s Secret Servant, ceased publication--was recently renamed The Spy Command. And earlier today it posted a terrific short piece about the failed 1967 pilot for a Dick Tracy series. That pilot’s producer, William Dozier, had already had already hit it big with Batman and The Green Hornet.

• As the blog TV Obscurities noted previously, Eve Plumb, the child actress who would go on to fame in The Brady Bunch, was to have played detective Tracy’s daughter, Bonnie Braids. She was “shown in the opening credits but otherwise never appear[ed].”

• Britain’s ITV Network is preparing “a new adaptation of George Simenon’s novels about Parisian sleuth Jules Maigret,” reports Euro Crime. Rowan “Mr. Bean” Atkinson is “set to play Maigret in two stand-alone, 120-minute films for the channel. Both dramas will be set in 1950s Paris, with screenwriter Stewart Harcourt adapting the books Maigret Sets a Trap and Maigret’s Dead Man.” Frankly, I can’t imagine Atkinson’s portrayal surpassing that of Michael Gambon in the 1992-1993 series Maigret (opening titles shown here).

• Finally, Ruth and Jon Jordan, the familiarly energetic and convivial editors of Crimespree Magazine, won some favorable attention this week in their hometown newspaper, Wisconsin’s Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, linked to the Raven Award they are set to receive during the Edgar Awards presentation on April 29.

“New” Sherlock Holmes Story Discovered

We’re beginning to wonder what on Earth could be next! First the To Kill a Mockingbird prequel was announced. Then a lost Dr. Seuss manuscript was uncovered. And now … a long-forgotten story by the master himself, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.

Whilst rifling through his attic not long ago, Scottish historian Walter Eliot discovered a short story written more than a century ago by the Sherlock Holmes creator, who was then a celebrity fresh from publishing The Hound of the Baskervilles. Titled “Sherlock Holmes: Discovering the Border Burghs and, By Deduction, the Brig Bazaar,” this “unsigned, 1,300-word yarn is part of a pamphlet printed in 1903 to raise money to restore a bridge in the Scottish border town of Selkirk,” explains an article in yesterday’s Guardian. The Telegraph offers more information:
It is believed the story--about Holmes deducing Watson is going on a trip to Selkirk--is the first unseen Holmes story by Doyle since the last was published over 80 years ago.

Mr. Elliot, a great-grandfather, said: “In Selkirk, there was a wooden bridge that was put up some time before it was flooded in 1902.

“The town didn't have the money to replace it so they decided to have a bazaar to replace the bridge in 1904. They had various people to come and do things and just about everyone in the town did something. …

“[Doyle] really must have thought enough of the town to come down and take part and contribute a story to the book. It’s a great little story.”
You can read the full text of that forgotten yarn here.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Pro “Choice”

My Kirkus Reviews column today is devoted to the subject of hit-man novels. I make special mention of Max Allan Collins’ new book, Quarry’s Choice, which I say “reads like one of those pulpish Gold Medal paperback thrillers of the 1950s or ’60s, densely plotted and dynamically paced, with plenty of nefarious twists, explosive turns and shady characters who live to surprise.” You’ll find the full piece here.

READ MORE:Quarry Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow,” by Max Allan Collins; “It’s All About the Books,” by Ky Cochran (Muscatine Journal).

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

The New Zealand Nine

For the third year in a row, I’ve agreed to serve as a judge in New Zealand’s annual Ngaio Marsh Award for Best Crime Novel competition. Named after the renowned author of the Roderick Alleyn mystery series, this prize has been presented in the past to Alix Bosco (aka Greg McGee), Paul Cleave, Neil Cross, Paul Thomas, and Liam McIlvany. Two of those same authors have also made the 2015 longlist of contenders, which judging convenor Craig Sisterson says features works “ranging from dark and violent thrillers to quieter mysteries and character studies tied up with crime, as well as a range of geographic and chronological settings.” Sisterson just posted the names of the nine nominees in his blog, Crime Watch. They are:

Drowning City, by Ben Atkins (Random House)
Five Minutes Alone, by Paul Cleave (Atria)
Databyte, by Cat Connor (Rebel e-Publishers)
The Petticoat Men, by Barbara Ewing (Head of Zeus)
A History of Crime: The Southern Double-Cross, by Dinah Holman (Ravensbourne)
Trilemma, by Jennifer Mortimer (Oceanview)
Swimming in the Dark, by Paddy Richardson (Upstart Press)
The Children’s Pond, by Tina Shaw (Pointer Press)
Fallout, by Paul Thomas (Upstart Press)

I’m particularly pleased to see Thomas’ Fallout make the cut, not simply because I have already begun reading his latest novel about Maori police detective Tito Ihaka (it’s due out in the States from Bitter Lemon Press in April), but because I much enjoyed his previous entry in that series, the Marsh Award-winning Death on Demand. Richardson and Cleave are familiar to me from previous judgings, as well, but the rest are authors whose work I haven’t yet read. This is among the genuine joys of participating in a contest such as this, that I am exposed to new writers whose novels I might later wish to follow on my own. The only hardship is that the longlist seems to be increasing in length each year. In 2013, I had to read and choose between only four books. Last year it was eight, and for 2015 my six fellow judges and I will have to evaluate nine works. That will require even more concentration and organization than before, if we’re to get through all of the nominees within a couple of months; Sisterson is hoping we’ll be able to narrow down a list of finalists in time to announce it at New Zealand’s Dunedin Writers Festival in May.

If you’d like to keep up with the Ngaio Marsh Award process via Facebook, the appropriate page to “like” is here.

READ MORE:The Ngaio Marsh Award: Roll of Honour,” by Craig Sisterson (Crime Watch).

Friday, February 13, 2015

Behind the Scenes of “Bosch”

(Editor’s note: Below, The Rap Sheet’s chief British correspondent, Ali Karim, welcomes the brand-new streaming-TV series Bosch, and recalls his experiences with that program’s creator, author Michael Connelly, in Los Angeles during last year’s Bouchercon.)


Michael Connelly and Ali Karim at Red Studios.

The first time I interviewed American journalist-turned-crime novelist Michael Connelly was back in 2002, shortly after I’d joined Mike Stotter as his assistant editor at Shots. I had by then discovered Connelly’s work, thanks to his 1996 novel, The Poet. But I was still getting to know his troubled Los Angeles police detective, Hieronymus “Harry” Bosch. That’s an apt moniker for a fictional protagonist who surveys the world with a cynical and cautious eye, always aware of the downside and dangers of the human condition--not unlike the surreal, 15th-century Dutch painter who shares his name.

In any case, I recall fondly my initial grilling of Connelly. He was in the company of Gaby Young, from Orion Publishing, and had traveled to the (now long-gone) Borders in Oxford, England, to launch City of Bones, his eighth Bosch novel. We sat in an office there and taped our exchange. I was very nervous about the encounter, fumbling with my tape machine, but Connelly put me at ease.

Looking back after all these years, with the knowledge that Bosch--the new 10-episode Amazon Prime series based on Connelly’s books--is set to be released today, Friday, February 13, I must smile at my introduction to that feature. It reads, in part:
He informed us that he has now decided to return back to writing books exclusively, after a brief dabbling in U.S. television, which he found filled him with frustration. In the acknowledgements of A Darkness More Than Night [2001] he even thanks writers Gerald Petievich (To Live & Die in L.A.) and Robert Crais for their excellent career advice (which he ignored) on avoiding working for U.S. TV.
(Enjoy that entire Shots interview with Connelly by clicking here.)

Since 2002, I’ve bumped into Michael Connelly several times and had the chance to interview him again more than once. We talked together in 2004, for instance, when his newest book was The Narrows, and then in 2007, when he was promoting his serialized novel, The Overlook (which you can read here, courtesy of The New York Times). And he met up with the whole Shots team at CrimeFest in 2009, while he was flogging a non-Bosch novel, The Scarecrow.

Then came last year’s Bouchercon in Long Beach, California.

Prior to my departing London for Los Angeles last November, my old friend Larry Gandle, a Florida radiation oncologist and assistant editor of Deadly Pleasures Mystery Magazine, e-mailed me to suggest that he and I--along with my trusty traveling companions, Roger “R.J.” Ellory and Mike Stotter--spend some “real time” together while we were all in Southern California. (Bouchercon is always such an intense event, there’s never free time enough to spend with the people you know and like.) I agreed, and let him know that Roger, Mike, and I would reach Long Beach a day ahead of most convention-goers. We had planned to hire a car and visit Los Angeles, maybe have a few laughs along the way, but Larry told me he’d already scheduled a car rental; why not head off into the neon-painted wilds of L.A. together?

So the morning after we reached Long Beach, the four of us squeezed into Larry’s little red vehicle and headed north toward the City of Angels. Naturally, we traversed Hollywood Boulevard, and got out to walk past Grauman’s Chinese Theatre and glance down at the sidewalk stars making up the historic Hollywood Walk of Fame. I am rarely surprised by the surreal coincidences life offers, but during our stroll I noticed a bloke working on the pavement, installing a new star. As I approached, I had to grab my camera and take a photo, because I’d seen the name “Matthew McConaughey” staring back at me from the pavement. The bloke making the star smiled at me. I just muttered “True Detective” as I snapped my shot. The bloke looked up from his work and said, “Yes, loved True Detective, but he was great in that other film, The Lincoln Lawyer.” I agreed, smiling as I added, “written by Michael Connelly.” The workman looked puzzled. “It was a book?” he said, and I nodded my head. He went on to grumble, “I don’t read books,” after which I moved quickly onward.

We enjoyed a leisurely lunch (with martinis) down the street at Musso & Frank Grill, a famous old L.A. restaurant once frequented by Dashiell Hammett and Raymond Chandler, and also featured in the Harry Bosch novels. Then it was off for a spin along Mulholland Drive, from there onto Woodrow Wilson Drive, where Larry pointed out the house that serves as Bosch’s fictional home. And as we snaked through the area we spotted a residence with a Union Jack flag flapping in the wind. Thanks to Google, we soon discovered it was the L.A. abode of British soccer player, and now film actor, Vinnie Jones--who, incidentally, lives right next door to director Quentin Tarantino. “Bloody tourists,” Larry groused, smiling at his car’s British passengers.

As we headed back down the Hollywood Hills, Larry’s cell phone rang. Michael Connelly was on the other end, asking whether he’d arrived in Long Beach yet. Larry said he had, and that he was currently sightseeing with the three of us. Connelly, in his typical deadpan manner, remarked, “Why don’t you guys drop by Red Studios?” Seems he wanted to show us around the Bosch film set. Excitedly, we scribbled down the Hollywood address, checked that we were all carrying proper identification to get us through the studio security gate, and then Larry hit the accelerator.

(Left) Entrance to Red Studios

After clearing security at Red Studios, we were greeted by Terrill Lee Lankford--“Lee,” as he prefers to be addressed--a filmmaker and one of the writers on Bosch, as well as a tremendous author in his own right (Earthquake Weather, Blonde Lightning). Mike Connelly joined us presently, and we headed off to their writing studio, which resembled my image of a proper L.A. private eye’s office, complete with heavy Venetian blinds, spot lamps, and coat rack. We chatted for a while about how the Bosch TV series came to be, Connelly explaining that he’d long ago thought about producing a 90-minute Bosch film, but concluded that such a format makes it difficult for a writer or filmmaker to retain anything but the essence of whatever the source material is. The debut of such TV dramas as True Detective, The Killing, American Horror Story, and Breaking Bad convinced him that the small-screen, episodic format would better accommodate his style of storytelling. Connelly says he’s been quite pleased with Amazon Studios backing Bosch, allowing him to maintain a strong link between the Harry Bosch you know from his novels and the detective Bosch actor Titus Welliver (Big Apple, The Good Wife, Lost, etc.) brings to life in the new streaming series.

As we strolled around the Bosch set, we were staggered by the level of detail and authenticity given to the “LAPD Hollywood Station” in which the actors perform. We met an ex-LAPD officer who acted as technical consultant, and he indicated that at times he felt as if he were right back at work. It was easy to understand why producing a TV series such as Bosch is so costly and time-consuming, with many skilled technicians involved in bringing Connelly’s work to the screen.

Here are a couple of exclusive clips to illustrate the filming process:

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Stopping to have coffee with actor Jamie Hector, who worked on The Wire and now plays Jerry Edgar, Harry Bosch’s partner, I found myself tongue-tied and overwhelmed by the whole Hollywood experience. At that moment, from the corner of my eye, I saw Titus Welliver appear on the set. He seemed preoccupied, in a trance-like state, walking and mumbling, and I whispered to Larry Gandle, “He’s getting into character.” In response, Larry said, “No shit, Sherlock!” As Titus went through his moves, I spotted what looked like a child’s skeleton resting on a gurney, and drew Connelly’s attention to it. “That’s not real, Ali,” he assured me. I must have looked a little worried.

Connelly explained that the new Bosch series combines elements from his 1994 novel, The Concrete Blonde, but the spine of those 10 episodes (please pardon the pun) is based on City of Bones. Then he smiled and said to me, “If you remember, it was on the launch of City of Bones that we first met.” I have to admit that finding myself on a film set in L.A., watching an adaptation of City of Bones, the first book I interviewed Connelly about, was more than a tad weird.

But my daydreaming was suddenly upset by the approach of Titus Welliver, who’d wandered over to our little group. Connelly introduced us all: “Titus, these guys are very old friends of mine.” As we shook hands, Welliver noticed our English accents and said, “Hands across the ocean.” I laughed and replied, doing my best Bob Hoskins impersonation, “The Long Good Friday,” to which he responded with a laugh, “You know your movies, man.”

Later, I shared a smoke with Titus outside the studio, the two of us (despite my own best efforts) being inveterate tobacco users. We talked some more about films, and he was very amused by my anecdote concerning the use of a Hoskins impersonation to escape personal injury, which comes from an encounter Roger Ellory and I had during Bouchercon in Baltimore back in 2008.

As this surreally enjoyable day was finally winding to a close, Mike Connelly took Roger, Mike Stotter, Larry, and I out for dinner at an eatery not from Red Studios. Over wine and desert I quizzed the author about the task he faced in casting Harry Bosch for the small screen. Connelly explained that finding the right actor to portray Bosch had been difficult, as they needed someone who could command the stage in minimalist fashion (i.e., have an expressive persona). Welliver was ultimately deemed the perfect fit, though I’d always imagined Bosch as being chunkier or bulkier, not so svelte as Welliver. When I told Connelly that, he smiled and said, “Funny you mention that. Just after we cast Titus as Bosch, I did get a call from James Gandolfini [of The Sopranos fame], who said he was a huge fan of the Harry Bosch novels.” He told Connelly, “Yes, I know I’m a little heavy, but believe me, I could be a great Harry Bosch.” Connelly looked at me with a bit of sadness as he said, “Though we cast Titus, I was flattered by the call from Tony Soprano. But either way, I very was saddened to hear of his passing [in 2013].” It’s fitting at least that crime-fiction enthusiast Gandolfini’s last, posthumous role was in The Drop, a movie based on Dennis Lehane’s short story “Animal Rescue.”


Titus Welliver and Jamie Hector star in Bosch.

After dinner, we thanked Michael Connelly for a most excellent afternoon, and drove back to our Bouchercon hotel in Long Beach. The bar there was packed, and many of its inhabitants clapped as we took our seats--it seems they’d been following our adventures in Hollywood via my obsessive Facebook postings. Even my wife, who is rarely excited by my adventures in crime and thriller fiction, was checking Facebook to see what I was up to in California. When I called home the next morning, she exclaimed, “How the hell did you end up in Hollywood with the actor from The Good Wife?”

Mimicking Michael Connnelly’s self-deprecating manner, I replied, “It’s a long story, but basically, I’m a lucky bloke.” And as we talked, I heard this song in my head.

* * *

Now accelerate forward three months. I’m back in England again, when Connelly calls me up out of the blue. He has arranged for Mike Stotter and me to preview the opening four episodes of Bosch. This is prior to the author’s arrival in London last week, accompanied by Titus Welliver, for a press screening of that series’ first episode and a question-and-answer session.

By the time Connelly and Welliver reach the British capital, they’re keen to hear our thoughts on the new show, and they delight in our excitement at what we have seen. It’s my humble opinion that Bosch is the cure for the anxiety True Detective fans have experienced since the end of that program’s initial season. Bosch offers polished production values and a main title sequence that beautifully combines jazz with stunning visuals of Los Angeles. The writing is fast-paced, but scenes still rely on Welliver’s expressive visage and thoughtful interpretation of Harry Bosch. The series’ story arc starts with elements of The Concrete Blonde, as our hero finds himself under the scrutiny of LAPD Internal Affairs detectives, following the shooting of a sexual predator. The supporting cast members are quite remarkable, with the young Jamie Hector being a perfect foil for the world-weary Bosch. Mimi Rogers, with her wholly disingenuous smile, is outstanding as a nasty lawyer who’s gunning for Bosch. As for the cinematography … well, let me say that the crystal-clear HD digital filming is slicker than one of Bosch’s bullets.

As the episodes progress, their story weaves into the plot we know from City of Bones. As Connelly told us over dinner in L.A., he needed a narrative thread that would allow the series to introduce Bosch’s background, both his military history (which for the TV show is updated to the Iraq/Afghanistan conflicts, and the tunnels of Southeast Asia in the novels are updated to the desert caves in Tora Bora) and his fractured and abusive childhood. City of Bones’ plot places Bosch’s life into perspective, as he hunts the murderer of a child, one who was badly abused--just as Bosch had been, following his mother’s murder when Harry was 12 years old. Thus, our eponymous sleuth finds the case particularly personal, which allows Connelly, Lankford and Co. to slowly “show,” rather than “tell” Bosch’s back story. What I find especially stimulating about Bosch are the little gems that pepper its narrative--references to other books, for instance, such as the 2003 Bosch novel Lost Light. I noticed that novelist George Pelecanos (who worked previously on The Wire) is among the writers on Episode 4 (“Fugazi”), and there is an amusing reference to “shoedog,” as well as an in-joke inserted by Connelly himself.

I actually watched the pilot/first episode of Bosch last year, when it premiered on Amazon Prime and viewers were asked to determine the show’s future. But I’d heard it had been re-edited, and so I watched all of the first four episodes back to back. My conclusion? Bosch is exceptional and deep, like True Detective, and utterly compelling, with Welliver doing a splendid job of filling Harry Bosch’s shoes. To say much more would only spoil the many surprises coming this weekend as Bosch’s inaugural season rolls out.

After the recent press screening in London, Amazon hosted a Q&A session with Connelly and Welliver, which I recorded for Rap Sheet readers in four sections:









Amazon’s plan is to release all 10 episodes of Bosch, beginning today, the day before Valentine’s Day--a perfect gift for crime-fiction fans. They’ll be available through Amazon Prime Instant Video in the USA, the UK, and Germany. Learn more about the Instant Video service here. And you can sign up for an Amazon Prime free 30-day trial period here. In Sweden, Finland, Denmark, and Norway, you can watch via HBO Nordic; weekly episodes will begin on February 14. In Canada, stream via CraveTV; all 10 episodes will be available on February 14. In New Zealand, watch via Sky Television--the debut date not yet determined. In Italy, watch via Eagle Pictures; again, the start date is still to be determined. In Germany, you will be able to also stream a dubbed version of the show via Amazon Prime Instant Video, beginning in June. More updates for other countries are yet to come. More information is available here.

READ MORE:Bosch, Amazon Prime’s New Crime Series,” by Neil Genzlinger (The New York Times); “Amazon’s Bosch Brings a Beloved Pulp Hero to the Screen,” by Noel Murray (A.V. Club); “Bosch Starts Today!” by Craig Sisterson (Crime Watch).

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Book Treats for Your Ears

There are 30 categories among the Audio Publishers Association’s lists of finalists for the 2015 Audie Awards (“the only awards program in the United States devoted entirely to honoring spoken word entertainment”). However, two group of nominees are likely of most interest to Rap Sheet readers. They are:
Mystery:
The Dead Will Tell, by Linda Castillo; narrated by Kathleen McInerney (Macmillan Audio)
Hounded, by David Rosenfelt; narrated by Grover Gardner (Listen & Live Audio)
Malice, by Keigo Higashino; narrated by Jeff Woodman (Macmillan Audio)
 Missing You, by Harlan Coben; narrated by January LaVoy (Brilliance)
 Providence Rag, by Bruce DeSilva; narrated by Jeff Woodman (Audible)
 The Silkworm, by Robert Galbraith; narrated by Robert Glenister (Hachette Audio)

Thriller/Suspense:
The Avengers, Lost Episodes, Vol. 1: Hot Snowadapted by John Dorney; narrated by Various (Big Finish Productions)
Dead Six, by Larry Correia and Mike Kupari; narrated by Bronson Pinchot (Audible)
In the Morning I’ll Be Gone, by Adrian McKinty; narrated by Gerard Doyle (Blackstone Audio)
The Lost Key, by Catherine Coulter and J.T. Ellison; narrated by Renee Raudman and MacLeod Andrews (Brilliance)
Those Who Wish Me Dead, by Michael Koryta; narrated by Robert Petkoff (Hachette Audio)
Wayfaring Stranger, by James Lee Burke; narrated by Will Patton (Simon & Schuster)
In addition, Stephen King’s Mr. Mercedes (narrated by Will Patton, released by Simon & Schuster) appears among the Audies’ Fiction contenders. Winners are set to be announced on May 28.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Ending the Real-life “Chinatown” Water Feud


Frequent dust storms remain an environmental problem on California’s Owens Lake. (Photo from the Owens Lake Project.)
What can I tell you, kid? You’re right. When you’re right, you’re right, and you’re right.
Those lines from the opening scene of Chinatown (1974) are pretty much what the City of Los Angeles is now saying to the many folks who reside in eastern California’s Owens Valley, according to this article in The New York Times. Trouble is, it took more than a century for L.A. to finally make that admission.

Current Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti stated not long ago that his city is culpable for the considerable air pollution that has resulted from the diversion of water, beginning in 1913, from Owens Lake to L.A., 200 miles to the south. “They took the water,” he remarked, acknowledging the actions of his predecessors--and looking forward to efforts by the city to help clean up the long-standing environmental mess. (As a report by National Public Radio explained, in 2013 Owens Lake--now “a salt flat the size of San Francisco”--was “the largest single source of dust pollution in the nation.”)

(Left) Jack Nicholson in Chinatown.

As part of my ongoing exploration of art imitating life imitating art, and how various fictional and cinematic characters would respond to current topics, I wondered how 1930s private investigator J.J. “Jake” Gittes (played by Jack Nicholson), who uttered those opening lines, would feel about this final resolution to the controversy. Before the Big Reveal in its second act, Chinatown was all about water. It was Gittes who inadvertently discovered a conspiracy to steal water from the farmers and ranchers living in the Owens Valley and divert it to the fast-growing L.A. metropolis.

Of course, the fictional conspiracy so brilliantly rendered by screenwriter Robert Towne and director Roman Polanksi was based on the true-life theft of water from Owens Valley, perpetrated in the 20th century’s first two decades by William Mulholland, superintendent of what was then the Los Angeles City Water Company (later the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power). Mulholland and his cronies in city government didn’t resort to exploiting an old-age home, as depicted in the movie, but their subterfuge was every bit as damning. As a fictional chamber of commerce official states in Chinatown, the water is necessary to “keep the desert” off the streets of L.A., no matter the cost to farmers in human suffering.

In the film, Mulholland is transformed into the fictional Hollis Mulwray (Darrell Zwerling), who is suspected of cheating by his supposed wife (Diane Ladd). Gittes is hired to investigate, and he tails Mulwray to the Los Angeles River basin and then out to the Pacific Ocean. The first half of the movie is replete with water references: a car overheating, Gittes nearly drowning in a drainage pipe, a client of Gittes who is a fisherman, and Mulwray’s gardener uttering the confounding statement “bad for glass,” while knee-deep in a pond. After the Big Reveal, the imagery shifts to the seedy side of Los Angeles, but it never completely forgoes the significance of water. One could argue that the absence of morality in Chinatown (the downtown L.A. neighborhood where Gittes once worked as a cop, and where this movie’s action concludes) is an offshoot of urban impurity far removed from the life-giving essence of water.

(Right) Mulholland with surveying equipment, ca. 1920s.

So what would Jake make of the new agreement to curb pollution in the Owens Valley? First, he’d laugh ironically at how the city stole water from the area only to end up pouring a costly “twenty-five billion gallons of water annually” on Owens Lake, just to control the resulting dust. Then he would wonder why the city has finally come to accept its responsibility. What kind of backroom deal was struck? Who is making money off this arrangement? That is something the self-conscious and proud Jake Gittes would be compelled to investigate, since he was made to look like such a fool in the first go-round.

The Times article suggests that perhaps the water theft wasn’t a total loss to the Owens Valley, because it kept the local population down and preserved the natural beauty of the region. I would add that it also inspired one of the finest films ever made in the noir genre.

You Can’t Keep a Good Show Down

Here’s an unexpected surprise, from In Reference to Murder:
Unforgettable is definitely living up to its name. The twice-cancelled CBS series is getting a new life and 13-episode fourth season on the A&E network. The show stars Poppy Montgomery as a female detective who remembers everything except the events of the day her sister was murdered. Dylan Walsh will also return, playing her boyfriend/partner, NYPD’s Al Burns.
Click here to learn more about Unforgettable’s comeback.

Monday, February 09, 2015

Spreading the Loveys

Fresh from this weekend’s Love Is Murder mystery writers’ conference, held in Chicago, come nine winners of the 2015 Lovey Awards.

Best First Novel: The Black Hour, by Lori Rader-Day (Seventh Street)
Best Traditional/Amateur Sleuth: Dead Between the Lines, by Denise Swanson (Signet)
Best Thriller: Death and White Diamonds, by Jeff Markowitz (Intrigue)
Best Suspense: Black Stiletto: Secrets & Lies, by Raymond Benson (Oceanview)
Best Police Procedural/P.I.: Retribution, by Annie Rose Alexander (Intrigue)
Best Historical: Shall We Not Revenge, by D.M. Pirrone (Allium Press)
Best Paranormal: Plagued by Guilt, by Molly MacRae (Signet)
Best Series: The Charlie Fox Series by Zöe Sharp
Best Short Story: “What We Do for Love,” by Tim Chapman (from Kiddieland & Other Misfortunes; Thrilling Tales)

Strangely, there doesn’t appear to be a winner in the usual category of Romantic Suspense. A full list of 2015 Lovey nominees is here.

Congratulations to all of this year’s prize recipients!

Sunday, February 08, 2015

Like Cinderella at the Ball


Titus Welliver as Detective Harry Bosch

(Editor’s note: The piece below comes from Nancie Clare, who co-created, along with Leslie S. Klinger, the podcast series Speaking of Mysteries. She was also a co-founder of the single-issue iPad publication Noir Magazine, and is the former editor in chief of LA, The Los Angeles Times Magazine. Clare last wrote for The Rap Sheet about the 2013 Bloody Scotland crime-writing festival.)

The invitation came through on January 22 to the debut screening of Bosch, a live-action Amazon Prime series based on Michael Connelly’s novels about Los Angeles police detective Harry Bosch. If you’re as wild about Harry as I have been--and as just about every reader of procedurals is--then seeing the character come to the screen after such a “tortuous journey” (Connelly’s own words in an interview I did with him in 2012) was a watershed event.

From my interviews with Mike Connelly, I already knew some of the genesis of the series. When I spoke with him in September 2012, just before The Black Box was published, he and executive producer Henrik Bastin and screenwriter Eric Overmyer had already met and were getting started on the project. They hadn’t yet cast Titus Welliver in the title role, but the rights to the Harry Bosch character had already been secured. For those of you who don’t know the story, Connelly sold the rights to Bosch to Paramount Pictures, a decision he doesn’t regret as it gave him the means to quit his day-job as an L.A. Times reporter and become a full-time fiction writer. But in spite of numerous scripts, a Bosch film never came to pass. When the 15-year term of his contract was over, Connelly sued Paramount to get the rights back. The price to reclaim his own character? Three million dollars. He had three years to pay up.

Maybe it was for the best. In the interim, basic cable outlets such as AMC, TNT, and USA, as well as premium outlets such as HBO and Showtime, and streaming newcomers Netflix and Amazon, had all changed the game by creating quality series in the mystery and thriller genre, shows on the order of Breaking Bad, The Killing, The Wire, Justified, The Bridge, House of Cards, and The Americans. Movies weren’t the only way to bring a character to life and, in many ways, the story of cop Harry Bosch lent itself to a multi-episodic arc instead of a movie.

(Left) Author Michael Connelly

But back to Bosch.

Michael Connelly is a best-selling author everywhere, but he has a special place in the hearts of those of us who live in L.A. Yeah, I know, Connelly now lives in Tampa, Florida, but Harry Bosch is a creature born and bred in my hometown. Bosch is L.A.

So, what better place to premiere Bosch last week than at the ArcLight Cinerama Dome on Sunset Boulevard in Hollywood? It was a fitting as it could get.

Things got off to a good start. In every cup holder at every seat in the place was a pair of commemorative Bosch mirrored aviator sunglasses. How cool was that?

I had already watched the Bosch pilot episode, released on Amazon last year, and for those of you who also saw it, I would highly recommend seeing it again. It has been recut and makes much more sense as the launch of a 10-episode story arc.

I knew as soon as I saw the opening credits that this TV production team got it. With a jazz soundtrack (which was to be expected, considering Harry Bosch’s legendary taste in music), the opening takes us through the city of L.A. in a through-the-looking glass, up-is-down/down-is-up mirror-image montage that I think does a great job of setting the tone that in this city, things are rarely what they seem.

The plot line--at least in the first two episodes, shown during the premiere--weaves together elements of at least three Harry Bosch novels: Echo Park, The Concrete Blonde, and what may be one of my favorites of all time, 2002’s City of Bones. It’s a good mix. There’s the internecine battle going on within a police department that thinks nothing of throwing someone who hasn’t played ball under the bus, the conflicted relationship the police have with Hollywood (there’s a snarky little aside about Harry having sold a story that was made into a film; the movie was terrible, but the fee enabled Harry to buy his house with the view), and an examination of the challenges L.A. police face in regard to their city’s geography, both physical and philosophical.

Going into the experience, I have to admit I wasn’t sure about Titus Welliver as Harry. I’m happy to report, I was wrong. Every single Connelly fan has a picture in his or her mind of Harry Bosch, and when a face is put to that character, it can be jarring. (Personally, I envisioned Harry as more of a Vincent D’Onofrio type, circa Law & Order: Criminal Intent.) Even Connelly admitted during a short introduction, which he presented in company with Henrik Baston and Eric Overmyer before the screening, that Harry had been his--but now he would be Titus Welliver’s. Thankfully, Titus captures Bosch’s stubbornness, commitment, sense of justice and, at least after an exchange with Alan Rosenberg (who plays the medical examiner in this series), his secular humanism. Titus is believable in a way that makes him own Harry’s personality.

The rest of the cast is built with solid character actors, including such veterans of The Wire as Jamie Hector, playing Bosch’s partner, and Lance Reddick as Deputy Chief Irvin Irving. Amy Aquino is especially good as Bosch’s lieutenant, who appreciates him for the good police that he is, at the same time as she bemoans what a pain in the ass he can be. Even characters who could easily slip into “dumb cop” caricatures, Detectives “Crate and Barrel” (Troy Evans as Detective Johnson and Gregory Scott Cummins as Detective Moore), are more than meet the eye. Their handling of possible serial killer Raynard Waits, played by an excellently creepy Jason Gedrick, is subtle but very slick. And, although the romance between Harry and ambitious rookie cop Julie Basher, played by Annie Wersching, is only in its nascent stages by the end of the second episode, I have a feeling that story arc is going to evolve nicely.

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An official trailer for Amazon’s Bosch

After the screening, everyone who attended was invited to a party across the street at a restaurant/club called Lure. And, it being a Tuesday night, dress code-wise it was a pretty casual affair. But fun. Most of the cast along with Connelly, Henrik Bastin, and Eric Overmyer showed up to nosh on sliders and mac-and-cheese, and partake of the open bar. No VIP corners for this crowd; everyone was out and about and chatting with guests and graciously receiving their props. I cut out early, though, since I’m a party lightweight and it was a school night.

All 10 episodes of Bosch will be available for streaming through the Amazon Prime service, beginning this coming Friday, February 13. The show is definitely worth the price of admission if you’ve been on the fence about joining Amazon’s delivery-and-streaming mash-up. And, hey, nothing says “Happy St. Valentine’s Day” better than a binge watching of Bosch.

READ MORE:Bosch Previewed: Harry on the Small Screen,” by DeathBecomesHer (Crime Fiction Lover); “Bosch, Amazon Prime Instant Video, with Titus Welliver -- Preview,” by Robin Jarossi (Crime Time Preview); “Writer Michael Connelly’s Teenage Brush with Crime,” by John Heilpern (Vanity Fair); “Michael Connelly, Bosch Make a Case for Series on Amazon Prime,” by Greg Braxton (Los Angeles Times).