Ever since I saw Michael Connelly play himself in a poker game on the amateur sleuth television show, “Castle,” I’ve been thinking he should have more Hollywood in his life. After all, isn’t that where we hang with Harry Bosch and Mickey Haller, at least on paper?
Well, finally the Lincoln Lawyer is on the mega screen in your local multiplex and that leads us to the question—where is big brother Harry? (Well, half-brother, but lets not quibble.) Hieronymus Bosch has been a staple in the mystery diet of lovers of hard-boiled police procedurals for nearly twenty years. And Harry grows in his books. You can see the man change, even if he doesn’t always improve. For an exceptionally good character piece with a mystery bent, try The Last Coyote. Oh and sometimes Harry surprises the reader with a bit of romance. So, what kept Harry out of a theater near you, while Mickey got there in less than six years of his first seeing the light of day in print?
Apparently, it’s all about movie options. In 1992 Paramount Studios optioned the first two books that feature Harry Bosch, The Black Ice and The Black Echo. Paramount exercised the option in 1995. Unfortunately for the Harry Bosch fans among us, the option included the rights to Harry himself. And all these years later, Paramount has failed to get even a glimmer of a Harry Bosch movie into production. After the option elapsed in 2010, Michael Connelly tried to buy his intellectual property back but Paramount wanted a ton of money and told Connelly that they had quitclaimed all rights to The Black Echo to Columbia, so he’d have to negotiate with them as well. Naturally, Connelly filed a lawsuit and we may be following this story in the industry news for years to come.
I’m sure this is all fascinating for, oh say, my son the lawyer, but for fans like us, the larger issue is why can’t we have our favorite characters standing twenty feet tall on a wide screen while we munch popcorn in rhythm with the suspense of the story and nervously wonder if the ending is going to be exactly the same as the book, or, did that #[email protected]&* Hollywood muck it up?
About five years ago, Michael Connelly and Robert Crais were together at Sleuthfest, a mystery writer’s conference in Florida. They are obviously good friends and I remember they joked about how Connelly had put Elvis Cole, recognizable but un-named, in a paragraph in Lost Light. And Crais put Harry Bosch in a similar cameo in The Last Detective.
I’m a big fan of Los Angeles Private Investigator Elvis Cole, introduced to us by Crais nearly fifteen years ago in The Monkey’s Raincoat. Through the years, as I enjoyed book after brilliant book, I keep wondering why Elvis never hit the big screen. When Crais’ stand alone, Hostage, was released as a movie in 2005, starring no less than Bruce Willis, I just knew Elvis Cole was not far behind. But, no.
So, I checked around and according to Crais’ website while he has received “numerous offers from Hollywood to buy the screen rights to the Elvis Cole novels, he has no intention of selling them.” Maybe the experience of his pal Connelly warned him away.
But before I get crazy and threaten to boycott the entire motion picture industry, I must remember that Stephanie Plum is coming very soon to a theater near me in One For The Money. So pass the popcorn while we see if Katherine Heigl makes Janet Evanovich’s wildly popular “bounty hunter in Trenton New Jersey” a big screen hit.
And, who knows, maybe some day Harry Bosch and Elvis Cole will have back-to-back shows on the little screen. Then I can enjoy my popcorn and my favorite characters while snuggled in my pjs and curled in my recliner.
According to Terrie Farley Moran, writing short mystery fiction is nearly as much fun as hanging out with any or all of her seven grandchildren. One of her recent shorts can be found in the anthology Crimes By Moonlight. Terrie blogs at Women of Mystery.