Michael Connelly has two best-selling series in progress, one about Detective Harry Bosch of the Los Angeles Police Department and another about Mickey Haller, the Lincoln Lawyer. This month Connelly is publishing “The Late Show,” which kicks off a new series featuring LAPD Detective Renee Ballard. He spoke to The Washington Post by phone from Los Angeles. (This interview has been edited for length and clarity.)
Q: Why undertake a third series now?
A: I can think of three big reasons. I turned 60 last year and started feeling I should break out something new creatively before this great ride is over. Introducing a new character sort of keeps the old ones on their toes. It helps me recharge.
Also, I have a friend I admire greatly who’s a female homicide detective with the LAPD, Mitzi Roberts. She once worked the night shift in Hollywood, and her stories inspired both the book and Renee Ballard, who also works the night shift in Hollywood. “The Late Show” — which is what police call the night shift — opens with Renee encountering three crimes in Hollywood one night that keep her busy for the rest of the story.
Finally, Harry Bosch is retired from the LAPD now, but I still like writing about that department, perhaps the best-known city police force in the world — known for both good and bad. I want to keep writing about it and I can do that through Renee.
Q: Were there new challenges in writing about a female cop? When “The Late Show” opens, Ballard has already filed a sexual-harassment complaint against a superior officer. Is it that tough for women in the LAPD?
A: The LAPD, like most police departments, is a male-dominated bureaucracy. A woman faces a lot of pushback. She will face obstacles, and in fiction you want characters to face obstacles. I didn’t feel that gender issues made this book any easier or more difficult. I never write thinking, ‘What would a woman do?’ any more than I think, ‘What would a man do?’ It comes down to what would a solid detective do in these circumstances.
A: Harry was born in 1950, so I’m stuck with that. But that’s okay. I have to find ways to use his age and experience to his and my advantage. In the book I’m writing now, he goes undercover to expose pill mills and organized crime involvement in the opioid crisis. I’ll find ways to keep him involved. I love the character and hope to always be writing about him.
Q: Bosch and his half brother, Mickey Haller, have collaborated in some recent novels. Might Renee Ballard join them in future books?
A: I hope they cross paths. I enjoy the crossover of characters and series.
Q: “Bosch,” the Amazon series starring Titus Welliver, is in its third year. How involved are you? Are you pleased with the show?
A: I’m very pleased with the show, and I’m very involved. I’ve been involved each season in choosing which books to adapt and then outlining how the season will roll out. I’m there most of the time to brainstorm the season with a crew of really good writers, and I’ve written several scripts. My main focus is on the writing.
Q: Harry’s college-age daughter, Maddie, who’s about the age of your own daughter, says she wants to become a cop like her dad. Any chance of a Maddie series one day?
A: I love writing about Maddie both in the books and on the show. I hope in four or five years I’m still going strong and get to write a Maddie-with-a-badge story.
Q: You turn 61 on July 21. In October, you’ll publish a new Bosch novel, your 31st novel in 25 years. Do you ever think about slowing down?
A: It’s very tough to slow down when you’ve been given such a wonderful opportunity to do what you love. I write at a pace that suits me, and sometimes it’s two books a year, but most often it’s one. The complication is the time devoted to the television show, but it’s a wonderful opportunity and it’s fun. All my writing is fun, and that makes it hard to slow down or walk away. If one part starts feeling like a job, I’ll drop that and move on. I hope that doesn’t happen.
Patrick Anderson writes regularly about thrillers and mysteries for The Washington Post.
By Michael Connelly
Little, Brown. 448 pp. $28