(CNN) — Bestselling author Michael Connelly might be best known for his character Detective Harry Bosch. But his second-most-popular character is no slouch either.
Connelly’s books have sold more than 50 million copies around the world, most of them featuring the fictional Bosch of the Los Angeles Police Department. But in 2005, Connelly moved away from his popular police procedurals to try his hand at a legal thriller. The result was “The Lincoln Lawyer” with Mickey Haller, a criminal defense attorney who works out of the back seat of his Lincoln Town Car. The book was a hit and later became a critically acclaimed movie starring Matthew McConaughey.
Now Haller returns in “The Gods of Guilt,” Connelly’s fifth novel featuring the fast-talking defender. In the book, Haller takes on a murder case where the victim happens to be one of his former clients. While Haller is often a shark in court, his personal life is a shambles. He’s nearly broke and alone, estranged from his ex-wife and teenage daughter and desperate to reestablish ties.
Meantime, Connelly has not forgotten fan favorite Bosch, who makes a brief cameo in “The Gods of Guilt.”
Bosch is also featured in a new eBook short called “Switchblade,” and coming in January, to TV. Connelly has co-written a pilot for Amazon Studios for an hourlong show, “Bosch,” which will air exclusively on Prime Instant Video in 2014. It stars Titus Welliver, who has appeared in “Argo,” “The Good Wife” and “Lost.”
Hometown: Born in Philadelphia, now lives in Florida.
Former profession: Crime reporter for the Los Angeles Times
For fans of: Crime novels, legal thrillers, Scott Turow, John Grisham
Fun facts: Connelly has appeared on several episodes of the ABC show “Castle” as himself. He is also a longtime fan of the New York Yankees and threw the first pitch at one of their games in August.
Five questions for Michael Connelly
CNN: Tell me about the title of your new book. Who are “The Gods of Guilt?”
Connelly: The easy explanation is the “Gods of Guilt” are the jury in the trial. I overheard the reference hanging around with some lawyers who help me with my Mickey Haller books. It was kind of an offhanded reference and, as often happens when you’re hanging around with cops and lawyers, they’ll tell you the greatest stuff and they don’t know how good it is. I knew it would be my title immediately, not only because it’s a cool phrase but also because it had other meanings, because this book has a lot to do with Mickey Haller’s character, his dealing with guilt over things he’s done, professionally and personally.
Obviously I want this book to be a legal thriller and courtroom drama, but also it’s a meditation on personal guilt and how you deal with it. This idea that everybody has a jury inside, their conscience that dictates the verdict on the things that they do.
CNN: How has Mickey Haller changed over the course of your series?
Connelly: I don’t know if this is the lowest we’ve ever seen Mickey, but in this book his professional and personal choices have left him pretty much alone and away from the people he longs for the most, most notably his teenage daughter. In this book, we never actually see her up close and in person. Mickey has to watch her from afar. That relationship, which has certainly anchored him in other books, has been torn asunder by something he did. He actually did his job correctly, and yet it had an effect where people later got hurt and that alienated his ex-wife and his daughter from him. So this story is about him trying to redeem himself in their eyes.
As a criminal defense attorney, Mickey does something for a living that his daughter has decided is abhorrent, so it’s a hard situation to be in. That’s where the “Gods of Guilt” come in. It’s about Mickey trying to convince a jury of his innocence, that’s the underpinnings of the story and that’s before we even get to the legal case that he’s handling throughout this book.
CNN: You’re headed to Europe for a promotional tour. Do you see any difference between your fans overseas and your American fans?
Connelly: I would say Harry Bosch translates around the world pretty easily. A homicide detective is a homicide detective is a homicide detective. Obviously procedures might be different from place to place, but the bottom line is that kind of character is the same in every country.
When you write legal thrillers or you write about a lawyer, the procedure… is different in every country. So Mickey Haller doesn’t translate as well in other countries, I’m not just talking about language translation. I like the idea of going over and being able to help translate him or explain him to readers because I really feel that readers in other countries are risking more to read a Mickey Haller book than a Harry Bosch book. I’ll be in England and Ireland and their legal systems are quite different so reading this trial that takes place in “Gods of Guilt,” it’s really kind of an alien world. I appreciate every reader I have of a Mickey Haller book in these countries, and if there’s a way I can go over there and help explain, I want to do it.
CNN: Tell me how you finally brought “Bosch” to TV.
Connelly: Harry was on the shelf for a long time, legally. I couldn’t do anything with him for almost 15 years because of deals I made in the 1990s. When I finally got the rights back, I didn’t need the money. I didn’t need anything from Hollywood, so I just had this resolve that I’m either going to be able to control this or I’m not going to do it, because Harry is too precious to me.
On one hand, I’m just as much influenced by great movies and great TV as I am by great novels, so it’s just instinctive that I want to try and do this and do it right. Slowly over the last couple of years, I put together the show runner, the chief writer, our producer, and while I was doing that, Amazon came to me because they heard about the project and saw the synergy between selling my books and wanting to get into the business of creating television and film. It was one of those common sense things, kind of a no-brainer.
If it’s great or bad it’s going to be my doing and I’m happy to make that gamble. I think it’s going to be on the good side, it’s going to be very representative of the books and my kind of creativity and I think it’s going to be something I’m really proud of.
CNN: What’s next?
Connelly: Before we started filming “Bosch,” I was working on a new Harry Bosch book. I don’t have a title yet, but in it, Harry’s got a new partner. He’s in his final couple of years of being a detective and I think he’s trying to be a mentor more than he has in the past. Usually he kept his partners distant and dispensable. Now Harry’s paired with a partner who he thinks may be the real deal and could be a person on a mission like he has been all his professional life. So he wants to pass something on. Geographically, this case takes him into a new part of Los Angeles; the investigation is primarily centered in East L.A., so there will be a lot of new stuff, but at the same time, very familiar. It should be coming out this time next year and hopefully will coincide with the TV show.