Crime Beat

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					“Crime Beat,” (2004), is a “New York Times” best-selling non-fiction collection of
Michael Connelly’s journalism, from his earlier days as a crime reporter for the “South
Florida Sun-Sentinel,” and the “Los Angeles Times.” Connelly is the author of the best-
selling Harry Bosch series of mystery novels, Los Angeles-set police procedurals that
look at life on the “noir” side, following in the footsteps of hard-boiled LA-based crime
novelists Raymond Chandler and Ross Mcdonald.

 The book gives us several tales Connelly often tells in personal appearance. How seeing
a criminal hide a gun gave the Florida-born, teenage Connelly, then a dishwasher, a life-
long interest in crime. How much he learned following a Fort Lauderdale detective
squad around for a week, learning to find the telling moment in so doing. How his first
assignment as a crime reporter on the “LATimes,” about a bank robbery in which the
never-caught thieves used the city’s tunnels, gave him the kernel of the first Harry Bosch
novel, THE BLACK ECHO, that tells a similar story. How the sad story of the cold-
blooded murder of a nurse that could not be prosecuted as Murder 1 because of the
California criminal code’s definition of lying in wait, at least gave him the location of
Bosch’s home. And we get the kernel for the author’s TRUNK MUSIC. Mind you, the
book is somewhat depressing, as the messy, bloody reality of true crime is. Journalists,
such as Connelly then was, are not permitted the author’s privilege of bringing their
stories to emotionally satisfactory conclusions.

Connelly’s work has been intelligently collected and emendated by Michael Carson, born
in New Haven Connecticut, now resident in London, England. Carson has written about
Connelly for the “Spectator,” “Daily Telegraph,” “Financial Times,” “Perth [Australia]
Sunday Times,” “shots,” and “Crime Time,” where he also edits the film section. His
studies of the directors Sergio Leone, Clint Eastwood and Oliver Stone were published in
the Pocket Essentials series.

The book at hand, though non-fiction, has the author’s usual excellent narrative,
descriptive writing, and dialogue, and is informed by his great knowledge of, and love
for, Los Angeles, his adopted home town. (You could pretty much use his works instead
of a road map.) Connelly is a wonderful writer, my favorite among American mystery
authors, and I've read all his work, save THE SCARECROW, and his most recent, THE
REVERSAL. His recent standalones, SCARECROW, and LINCOLN LAWYER have
been #1 New York Times Bestsellers. And any fan, after reading this book, would have
to conclude that the author certainly earned his spurs in murder while earning his daily
bread. I’d say the book’s a must for his fans, though perhaps not so interesting to others;
but for those who love this man’s work in any shape or form, recommended.

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