The Poet is the fifth novel written by Michael Connelly, and the first to feature Rocky Mountain News reporter Jack McEvoy; it is Connelly's first novel not to feature LAPD detective Harry Bosch. The book was published in June of 1996, and won the 1997 Dilys Award (for Connelly's second consecutive Dilys win, after 1996's The Last Coyote), the 1997 Anthony Award, and the 1997 Nero Award.
Within the continuity of Connelly's fictional Los Angeles, the book was a nonfiction account of the investigation that was ostensibly written by McEvoy. A copy of the book was read by agent Rachel Walling in April of 2004, and another copy of the book was found in the home of Declan McGinnis during the investigation into the Scarecrow murders.
Jack's twin brother, Denver homicide detective Sean McEvoy, is is found dead in a car with an apparently self-inflicted gunshot wound. Initially ruled a suicide, Jack uncovers evidence that the death was in fact a homicide. Sean's last words scrawled in a fogged windshield – "Out of space, out of time" – turns out to be a quote from Edgar Allan Poe; further research reveals similar Poe quotes at the scene of seeming suicides by police officers. Jack goes on the trail of a serial killer of police officers nicknamed "The Poet", and ends up hunting an Internet pedophile named William Gladden.
- Jack McEvoy - Rocky Mountain News reporter
- Rachel Walling - FBI Agent, member of the FBI Behavioral Science Section
- Robert Backus - Head of the FBI Behavioral Science Section
- William Gladden - Pedophile
- FBI Agent Robert Backus later reappeared in the Harry Bosch novel The Narrows.
- Jack McEvoy has a cameo appearances in the novels A Darkness More Than Night and The Brass Verdict, and later features in his own sequel The Scarecrow.
- Rachel Walling appears in four future Harry Bosch novels: The Narrows, Echo Park, The Overlook, and The Black Box. She also returns in The Scarecrow, as well as the Mickey Haller novel The Reversal.