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MICHAEL CONNELLY (driving): Hello, I'm Michael Connelly. I'm driving in South Los Angeles. I want to take you on a, uh– a tour of, I guess, the inspirational points, uh, behind my new book, The Black Box.
The Black Box is a story that spans twenty years. Uh, not coincidentally, so has my career as a novelist. My first book, The Black Echo, was published in 1992. A couple months after it came out, the city of Los Angeles exploded in the riots, um, that raked across the city, and have left, uh, psychic if not physical scars for twenty years. Um: I was a reporter at the time. Uh, struggling novelist by night, uh, reporter by day, and, um, I took place– or took part in the, uh, coverage of the, uh, the riots.
Uh, we just passed the intersection of Florence and Normandie, which most consider the sparking point of the riots. Uh, images that are probably burned into the American conscience of, um, of people being pulled out of their cars and attacked. And, um, and it– it kind of spread from there. Um: what I wanted to do was write a story that was significant to me, obviously, but also span these twenty years that I've been writing books about Harry Bosch, and so the idea was to, um, begin with the riots.
So the first section of The Black Box takes place in this area with Harry Bosch working, um, uh, Homicides during the riots. There were 53 deaths during the riots; some were out-and-out murders, some were self-defense, and so forth. Um, a lot of different kind of cases, but it was not only a surrealistic time in the city, but also, uh, a strange time to be a homicide cop because of the dangers involved and– and the quickly-moving-from-case-to-case. Um: I have several, um, sources I guess, or you could say friend– or, I'd say friends in the police department, homicide detectives who worked these cases, and so I spent some time with them researching it, and came up with this story.
Um: and so the first section of the book starts twenty years ago, um – [ambulance drives by with sirens flashing] – at a crime scene, a murder scene in an alley not too far from Florence and Normandie. And, uh, we're with Harry as he works that case and then we come back to Harry twenty years later – 2012 – uh, when he looks back into that case, which was never been solved.
This is Crenshaw Boulevard, which runs north from Florence, and I chose this for the crime scene area, uh, because this is, um, the turf of the Rolling 60s Crips gang, which by all accounts in the early 90s was the most dangerous and violent street gang in South L.A. And so the setup, which is fictional, that I created and put into this real, uh, moment in history of the riots, is that, um, up in an alley off of Crenshaw, a journalist– a photojournalist, uh, from a foreign country named Anneke Jesperson is found, uh, about ten feet in from the alley shot to death, and her cameras and so-forth are gone. Um: this is the alley here.
And Harry Bosch and his, uh, partner, Jerry Edgar are called out, they have a military escort from the, uh, um– uh, the Army reserves were called in to– to help protect police and to re– help restore, um, uh, security in the city. And they come in here to try to conduct a, uh, crime scene investigation under the conditions of the city burning, about gunshots in the air. Very surrealistic, very difficult, and very, um, uh, dangerous. Uh: unsecure. And so they're doing this, and they're trying to go quickly, and then they get called to another murder, and it's very disappointing to Harry– dis– disheartening, `cause he knows– he almost knows this'll never get solved, because we..."have to go, the crime scene's gonna disappear, and it's just not the way to do it."
Uh: but he does make one finding before he leaves, um, this alley, and that is, he finds a shell casing of the bullet that killed Anneke, and he obviously collects it, it gets put away into evidence. He gets taken off the case; they created this thing called the Riot Crimes Task Force after the riots to take over all the investigations, so it was taken away from Harry. But in 2012, he comes back to this case `cause it remains unsolved, and that one moment or that one thing that he found that– the shell casing, that leads him in a direction in which he believes he can solve this case after all this time.
Um: and that's kind of the coin of the, uh– of the realm, or the– the redemption that Harry seeks, `cause it's a case that stuck with him. He knows it could have been solved, or should have been solved, and, uh, it never was, and twenty years later, he's gonna see to it that it does get solved.