Our screens are littered with adaptations of stories of all types and genres, from graphic novels to plays, fiction, non-fiction, and memoirs, and the crowded scene faces constant questions of authenticity and fidelity. Audiences, led to some degree by younger members whose YA tomes have become the current standard bearers (especially on the big screen), want movies and serialized shows that confirm the characters and narratives they have drawn in their minds from the texts.
Such considerations make the Amazon Prime series Bosch an intriguing curiosity. This Los Angeles crime procedural, now in its third season, follows the ongoing exploits of Homicide detective Harry Bosch (Titus Welliver), the dark yet principled creation of writer Michael Connelly, himself a crime beat reporter who taps into his years on the beat to infuse his fiction with human details. The detective exists in an ever-expanding universe of novels, which serve as the foundation for the series.
What separates Bosch from most other adaptations though is the intricate reconfiguring of the novels. For instance, each ten-episode season draws inspiration from several of Connelly’s novels, allowing the series to emerge as a version of Frankensteinian noir. There is never simply one criminal investigation to solve; instead, cold cases bump up against several current investigative assignments, producing a never-ending narrative patchwork of sin and redemption.
Season three weaves in elements from A Darkness More than Night into The Black Echo (which was actually the first Bosch novel). The two previous seasons chopped and screwed pieces of City of Bones, Echo Park, The Concrete Blonde, Trunk Music, The Drop, and The Last Coyote. As a fan of Connelly’s novels (and international crime fiction like Jo Nesbø, whose book The Snowman will grace movie screens later this year), I find the series to be a true revelation, because it is supremely faithful to the spirit of the character and his world, but trusts the audience to appreciate that it is a wholly separate work.
There is a miraculous fidelity though in the experience of watching Bosch, which transcends mere bingeing, to an accurate sense of what it feels like to read these stories for the first time. Pick up Bosch and you will have a hard time putting it down. (Currently streaming on Amazon Prime) Grade: A