Is it weird that I want to stalk Michael Connelly? Okay: I mean this figuratively. I’m too lazy to do anything more than look people up on Google.
For those of you who don’t know, Michael Connelly is one of the great detective fiction writers in the world. How do I know this? It says so on the cover of his book: “The Best Mystery Writer In the World.” All caps. By GQ, no less. End of story.
I have to agree. I’m reading one of his legal fictions, featuring Michael Haller and I can’t put it down. Haller is back in the saddle again, after being shot, getting addicted to pain killers, divorcing, hitting rock bottom and getting into slow recovery. The Lincoln Lawyer always planned his return but not in this way, because suddenly he’s inherited an entire law practice from a murdered colleague. Among these cases: a career-making, high profile murder involving a studio executive in a love triangle.
Michael Connelly was an LA Times reporter and it shows. Great sentences. Superior knowledge of Los Angeles, my home town. He’s got a sense of intrigue. You’re always wondering what’s happening, who has what ax to grind, whose hiding true intentions. That’s the kind of art that doesn’t happen sentence-by-sentence. That’s brain art: highly conceptual.
I used to run a writer’s series back when I was teaching at a college in Iowa. We got amazing writers—Francine Prose, John Edgar Wideman, Adrienne Rich—who were acknowledged masters to come and read from their works. I was supposed to be in attendance. But if it were not mandatory, I probably wouldn’t have shown up. I never understood why people showed up to get their books signed. It felt kind of stalker-ish.
But for Michael Connelly, I’d show up with a copy of The Brass Verdict in hand. “Sir, could you make it out, not to me, but for the serial killer in my novel, because he’s going to need a real good, ass-kicking defense attorney like Mike Haller?”
Connelly’s gift to me: permission to write about my LA—the LA I grew up in. I love the way Michael Haller inhabits the world of DuPar’s, Traxx, Musso and Frank’s, landmarks all. So I realize that my hero needs his own landscape. But will people recognize Spaceland, Giant Robot, American Rag? Will they recognize that Thai dive on Hollywood Boulevard—Sanamluang—that is forever ruined by good reviews in the LA Weekly? Will they know why my hero refuses to go to Café Figaro, even when he gets a call out of the blue from someone who has vital information?