LA’s grumpiest detective is back.
Based on the best-selling crime novels by Michael Connelly, Bosch follows the life and crimes of Harry Bosch (Titus Welliver) a hard-boiled LAPD homicide detective haunted by the unsolved murder of his mother, a fragmented family life and – as we see in the very first episode of season one – the shooting of a suspect that’s left an indelible black mark on his record.
Did he shoot an unarmed suspect and plant a gun on him? He was cleared by the LAPD but the suspicion never really clears around him, and throughout the series his reputation amongst his fellow cops and the general public remains murky. Not that he cares; solving crimes is his focus, and if that means his family is sidelined, well… that’s something he struggles with across the run of the series.
Each season of Bosch starts out with two things: Bosch being an angry cop, and the discovery of a body. But like a good crime novel, things rapidly get a lot more complicated. With ten episodes per season, one of the real pleasures of Bosch is the way it can take its time and really dig down into the strongest points of a good noir thriller: characters and setting. While the plotting is tight and there’s a reoccurring cast, each season sets up a fresh world that it invites the viewer to explore rather than race through.
There’s one constant across the series to date: the real star of the show is Los Angeles. This isn’t the glitzy glamourous place of movie dreams and mansions high on the hills, but neither is it some stylised noir setting. It’s a gritty place where people get things done, a working city full of nooks and crannies where people do bad things to get by. This kind of matter-of-fact approach has been central to hard-boiled LA detective stories since the days of Raymond Chandler and Dashiell Hammett in the 1940s, and Connelly’s novels have been praised by many as worthy inheritors to that tradition.
The first season of Bosch starts with Bosch being sued by the family of the suspect he shot and killed. To keep busy during the trial he takes on some weekend shift-work, which means he’s the officer on duty when a doctor’s dog digs up what he identifies as a child’s bone. They soon uncover enough remains to identify the bones as coming from a horribly abused boy who died in 1989 – and with Bosch having his own history of childhood abuse, he takes on the case despite already having plenty on his plate with his own trial.
Season two kicks off six months later, with Bosch back on the job and investigating an all-new case after being suspended at the end of season one. A Hollywood pornographer has been found dead in the trunk of his car, and his apparent mob connections make this seem like a fairly straightforward murder investigation. But the more Bosch investigates, the more there is to find (including supposed National Security implications), and when the trail leads to Vegas (home of Bosch’s FBI profiler ex-wife and daughter) and another batch of dirty cops, Bosch and his family find themselves in their sights.
In season three another year has passed and Bosch has settled into a new routine (he’s now got his daughter living with him for starters) when he’s assigned a case that everyone else sees as just one homeless man killing another. But the dead man’s military tattoo pushes Bosch to dig deeper, while his obsession with a killer that got away takes a dangerous turn when the killer turns up dead. Bosch’s reputation has already taken a hammering with his superiors – could this be what his enemies need to finally shut him down?
This season begins with Bosch still trying to solve the cold case of his mother’s death, but when a high profile LA attorney is killed on the eve of a civil rights trial he’s put in charge of the task force investigating the murder. He’s always been good at juggling priorities, but with the spotlight now firmly on him and the clock ticking to solve an increasingly complicated case before the city erupts, will all his tricks be enough to get the job done?
And yes, the series has already been renewed for a fifth season. But that doesn’t mean we can get complacent about Bosch’s crime-solving abilities just yet; no-one’s ruled out ten episodes of him filling out unemployment forms.
The latest installment of Bosch is streaming now at SBS On Demand: