A Better Place to Live

Donna Levin
California novelist and author of California Street (Simon & Schuster)

Michael Connelly’s 21st novel, The Reversal, was released by Little
Brown a few months ago.  Publisher’s
Weekly, the industry’s trade publication, gave it a starred review which
concludes, "Reading this book is like watching a master
craftsman, slowly and carefully, brick by brick, build something that holds
together exquisitely, form and function in perfect alignment."

The Reversal brings together Connelly’s
best-known detective hero, Harry Bosch, and his newer hero, defense attorney
Mickey Haller, who is not only starring in his third Connelly novel but will be
played Matthew McConaughey in the soon-to-be
released movie The Lincoln Lawyer, based on the novel of the
same name in which Haller was introduced.

The Reversal is also set in Los Angeles,
the primary setting for all of Connelly’s work.


Michael ConnellyMichael Connelly

Setting
is an often-overlooked element of the novel, but an author’s use of that
setting – the time as well as place in which the action unfolds – can make the
difference between a work of literature and a paperback you throw away after
you get off the plane.

That
time and place, be it San Francisco in the late 60s or Sacramento at
Depression-era farms in the Central Valley, gives us a context in which to
understand the characters, their values, goals and fears.

But
a writer of fiction is not a reporter or a travel agent, and so he or she takes
that setting and makes it his or her own. 

California,
with its amazing diversity, has supplied multiple settings for mystery authors:
San Francisco for Hammett, the fictional Santa Teresa (which stands in for
Santa Barbara) for Sue Grafton, and of course Los Angeles for Michael Connelly
(as well as for Connelly’s pal, Robert Crais). 
As Connelly writes in The Narrows of L.A., "So many ways to
live, and so many ways to die."  It’s a
perfect setting for Connelly’s hero Harry Bosch, who, because of the murder of
his mother when he was a child, sees himself as an avenging angel for homicide
victims everywhere.  At least, everywhere
in Los Angeles.

"Los
Angeles is a great place to live."  Here Connelly
is speaking for himself, on a special edition DVD produced by his publisher as
part of the release of The Overlook.  "It might be an even better place to write
about."

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