Like all detectives of his literary ilk, Hieronymus “Harry” Bosch isn’t easy to warm up to. Brought to life from the pages of Michael Connelly’s crime novels (“City of Bones” and “The Concrete Blonde” among the many of them), this Los Angeles homicide detective is now the center of “Bosch,” a slow but steady 10-episode drama from Amazon that begins streaming Friday.
Titus Welliver (of “Sons of Anarchy,” “The Good Wife,” “Lost” and an endless scroll of other credits) stars as Bosch, who is facing a civil suit stemming from the night he shot and killed an unarmed suspect.
Bosch is a real brooder, prone to nights spent listening to jazz records while staring off into the L.A. cityscape from his well-perched house on a hill (bought with lucre from selling the film rights to some of his more grisly casework, he explains). Bosch is haunted (there is lingering trauma from a childhood incident) and tends to drive away those who love him, including the teenage daughter who lives with his ex-wife.
They’re all haunted, aren’t they? Bring me just one fictional, relatively happy male homicide detective who is demon-less, unburdened and hasn’t spread his hurt to a hundred (often female) people. How about just a smile, then?
Impossible, at least in this genre. The good news is that Bosch the character isn’t much of a talker and “Bosch” the show isn’t carrying the added weight of characters who are in love with the sound of the writer’s voice (a la “True Detective”). If you can hang on for four episodes, you may be surprised to find that you and Bosch have formed a sort of bond.
Skirting the edges of impending termination from the police force, Bosch volunteers for more work to take his mind (and his conscience, apparently) off his court case. A routine call about a leg bone discovered on a steep, wooded hill quickly becomes Bosch’s new obsession: The victim, buried for 20 years, was a boy from an abusive home. Soon enough, Bosch and his colleagues are on the trail of a serial killer (Jason Gedrick) whom everyone except Bosch considers a prime suspect in the boy’s murder.
That’s the overall story arc here, interspersed with Bosch’s romantic interest in a patrol officer (Annie Wersching). The show certainly takes time to congeal and then, rather suddenly, kicks into what might be described as a higher gear in episode 4 —although some viewers may groan when they realize the story has been hijacked by one more of those wily, escape-prone superkillers who exist mainly to taunt protagonists.
Amazon (which, yes, happens to share an owner with The Washington Post) only sent the first four episodes, but it’s enough to feel confident that “Bosch” isn’t a waste of a good weekend binge. While you decide if it’s right for you (imagine “The Killing” without any rain or “Broadchurch” in need of some sunscreen), there’s plenty else to admire. Welliver’s performance is nicely built out of smirks and smolders; a strong supporting cast rarely makes a false move.
From a technical perspective, what’s most interesting about the first few hours of “Bosch” is a sense of discipline, bordering on restraint. There’s also an honest regard for the real Los Angeles, which is so often described in popular culture as being shallow. Thanks to its source material and attention to atmospherics, “Bosch’s” unvarnished, unglamorous L.A. is a far more intriguing, far more complex setting for a story.
(10 episodes) begins streaming Friday on Amazon Prime.