The Police Procedural Starring Real Detectives
WHY YOU SHOULD CARE
Because this is how a police drama is meant to unfold.
By Laura Elizabeth
Video by Craig Tovey
You know the scene: A couple of tough-guy cops — shirt sleeves rolled up, holsters strapped on — stalk around a spare interrogation room. The suspect’s head is bowed over bad coffee in a polystyrene cup. The detectives, ferocious, hurl abuse and hiss threats. One swipes the coffee cup, spraying hot liquid. Or maybe he grabs the suspect by the collar and throws him against a wall. By and large, this is the tried-and-tested way to elicit a confession … in TV Land. One show, however, has a different approach.
Amazon Studios’ original series Bosch is now in its third season. Based on the best-selling Harry Bosch detective novels penned by former Los Angeles Times crime reporter Michael Connelly, the show aims to depict police procedure as accurately as possible. Which means the classic interrogation scene plays a little gentler.
“When Harry Bosch goes into an interrogation room, it’s contrary to what you see on a lot of television,” says Connelly, who sat down with OZY to discuss the series. Connelly, who is also an executive producer on the show, has made a point of inviting serving members of the LAPD to the set of Bosch, named for its quietly tormented leading man, homicide investigator Hieronymus “Harry” Bosch (played by Titus Welliver).
“I’ve had detectives tell me the key to their whole job is getting people to talk. It takes a certain skill, an empathic soul,” he says. And Rule No. 1 of getting suspects to tell all in the real world? Maybe don’t start by beating them up.
Cops carry themselves in a certain way, so if we can use a real cop, we do.
Michael Connelly, Bosch
Connelly’s approach to the show — keeping it real — has warmed him to LAPD badge-holders, who regularly approach him with feedback and advice and, sometimes, for a bit part.
“Cops carry themselves in a certain way, so if we can use a real cop, we do. They come to us — they’ve seen the show, they know we’re trying to get their world right, and they want to be part of that. So that’s a very cool thing,” he says.
Connelly’s relationship with the LAPD hasn’t always been quite so rosy. His time as a beat reporter for the Los Angeles Times didn’t make him a friend of the local boys in blue.
“Historically, the LA Times as an institution and the LAPD as an institution don’t like each other,” he concedes. As a result, The Black Echo, Connelly’s debut novel (and the first book featuring Harry Bosch), was, he admits, “from the standpoint of an observer on the other side of the yellow tape.” That all changed when he quit journalism to become a full-time novelist.
“As an author, I wasn’t the kind of threat to the LAPD that I was when I carried a press pass,” he says. “And I was trying to get it right in my books — not just the procedure, but the life.” Connelly notes his later novels reflect that new dynamic, when officials in the profession started reaching out and helped him develop Harry Bosch’s world.
If his early novels lack the expertise of his later work, Connelly sees the Amazon series as his second chance.
“The show improves a lot on what I’ve done in my early books,” he notes. “Those books are more naive. [Now] we go back and do these stories for television with a greater degree of authority helping us. We have real LAPD homicide detectives who come to the set every week and school us.” And in that school, there’s no place for scalding coffee.
- Laura Elizabeth, OZY AuthorContact Laura Elizabeth