The Alibi: a Booked ezine

Issue 6, October 20, 2005
ISSN: 1715-9105

Watch BOOKED Investigates Michael Connelly's
The Closers
(all times EST):

  • Saturday, Oct. 22, 8PM on ACCESS Television
  • Tuesday, Oct. 25, 12:30PM and 8:30PM, and Wednesday, Oct. 26, 4AM on BookTelevision
  • Friday, Oct. 28, 9PM on CLT
  • Wednesday, Nov. 2, 7AM, 6PM, and 11PM on CourtTV Canada
Booked Television: October 22-November 2
BOOKED investigates Michael Connelly's The Closers

The Closers by Michael Connelly ISBN: 0446616443

Detective Harry Bosch is back on the job and BOOKED experts deconstruct his cold case investigation into the politically charged 17 year old murder of a racially mixed teenager in LA.  Experts also reveal how DNA evidence can be used to solve crimes.

In this episode, our host Fred Yackman is joined by:

Booked Experts
Killer Reviews with Paul Bergen and Barry Hammond
Paul and Barry Photo
Article Title: Armchair Travelling

Barry: Here in Canada, the two most common mysteries or procedurals are American and British. Anything else, even Canadian, seems exotic by comparison. Reading crime and mystery fiction from Europe or from Japan, such as Out, is quite different because not only is it about a locale I'm not familiar with, but the procedures of their police departments are so different.

Paul: I like the idea of Canada as foreign turf for Canadians and it sure is whether I am reading L.R.Wright and her rural friendly RCMP officer in contrast to the typical pistol-packing hardcase detective or watching characters who actually resemble and behave like real people on DaVinci's Inquest. I am so used to American procedurals that despite my joy in recognizing familiar places, I find our own police operations unusual and intriguing. And apart from that Anglophone dominance, its a traveller's paradise these days when almost every nationality has representation in this genre.

Barry: I first became aware of how much fun it could be exploring other possibilities back in the 1970's with the Swedish husband and wife team of Maj Sjöwall and Per Wahlöö, and their books like The Laughing Policeman, The Abominable Man, and The Locked Room. They were interesting because they took a very socially conscious attitude toward crime, when that just wasn't done at all in American crime fiction outside of Noir.

Paul: For me it was the discovery of Van Gulik's Judge Dee mysteries set in the Tang dynasty in China where the judge was the investigator, judge and executioner (none of this presumption of innocence nonsense). With Dee, you get not only an entirely different culture, but another era, and a whole different political sensibility. There have been many books since then but the most remarkable of recent Asian-based mysteries has to be John Burdett's Thai mysteries.

Barry: I really like Burdett as well with his comments on the culture and the central involving figure of the half-European half-Thai policeman, who's a devout Buddhist but whose boss is a drug dealer and whose mother runs a brothel. That really causes him some soul-searching! I also like Henning Mankell, who writes the Kurt Wallander mysteries set in Sweden and Norway’s Karin Fossum, who we also feature in BOOKED. Unfamiliar locales and different customs make foreign mystery novels a nice change of pace for readers. You learn something while you're having a great read.

Paul: I agree. Well written mysteries set in other countries function as great travel writing. Mysteries have often placed an emphasis on setting and here this tendency serves them well. Crimes often take place because of a given situation and the method is often tied to the environment. And this resonates and makes a book richer when all the elements are part of this other place.

Barry: Yes. The setting becomes another character in the story. We can bond to characters that are familiar to us but there is a certain frisson attached to characters at home in other cultures such as Nadel's Turkish Inspector Ikmen. Ikmen is always investigating crimes that couldn't have taken place in any other culture; the killing is familiar but the reason is not.

Paul: And that's really the draw. With these imports I find you have the comfort of the familiar genre but with everything else up for grabs. You know where you are going but you have no idea what you are going to see around the next bend.

More From Paul and Barry's Recommended Reading List:

James McClure: The Steam Pig and Blood of an Englishman
Deon Meyer: Dead Before Dying, Dead at Daybreak, Heart of the Hunter
Robert Wilson: A Small Death in Lisbon

Writer Rap Sheet: Michael Connelly
Michael Connelly Photo

"It seems like everything I do is involved in the question of how to keep Harry Bosch alive - how do I stay excited and interested in him? Reading a book takes just a few days, but writing one takes much longer. I have to make sure when I'm standing at the bottom of the mountain, I have the fuel and the desire to climb it again. That can be hard if it's a character that is feeling routine and has a been-there, done-that feeling to it."

--Author Michael Connelly

Michael Connelly graduated with a major in journalism and a minor in creative writing from the University of Florida. Six years after his graduation he co-wrote an article that was short-listed for the prestigious Pulitzer Prize for feature writing, which landed him a job as crime reporter for the Los Angeles Times. Three years after becoming a crime reporter, he began to write the first Harry Bosch novel.

“To come up with Harry Bosch I drew from everything - I had contact with real LAPD Detectives and a lot came from that, but I also drew from the movies, books, TV Detectives that I loved over my lifetime.” Some of Connelly’s influences are Joseph Wambaugh, Ross MacDonald, and of course Raymond Chandler. “I loved The Long Goodbye directed by Robert Altman, which most fans of Chandler think of as an abomination, but I enjoyed it as a movie.”

The character of Harry Bosch ages in real-time, which means that as of this Alibi issue, Bosch is 55, and rapidly approaching his real retirement. Connelly explains, “I've got maybe five years left to write about him and hopefully I'll write a book every year, because every year I don't...means one less Bosch book.” Fortunately, Connelly has just introduced his fans to a very juicy new character, Mickey Haller, in his latest offering, The Lincoln Lawyer.

Selected Books by Michael Connelly

The Lincoln Lawyer
The Closers
Murder in Vegas
The Narrows
Lost Light
City of Bones
Chasing the Dime
A Darkness More than Night
The Harry Bosch Novels
Void Moon
Angels Flight
Blood Work
Trunk Music
The Poet
The Last Coyote
The Concrete Blonde
The Black Ice
The Black Echo

Writer Rap Sheet: Jon Evans

Richard Jobin, PhD, is a forensic DNA specialist working in the Alberta government’s Fish and Wildlife Enforcement division.

“I do forensic case work, a lot of which is with animals. I do work with human DNA, helping out police agencies or the coroner. Working with human and animal DNA involves almost identical tests and equipment, except that the chemical cocktail is different for different species. Actually, doing human DNA is easier, because there are commercially available kits and enormous pre-existing databases. For animals, we had to create our own test, set up and run our own databases, do our own statistics, that sort of thing.”

Forensic DNA testing has come a long way in the past 20 years. DNA has been used as evidence since the mid-eighties, but the technology behind it has changed significantly. The old way of analyzing DNA, restriction fragment length polymorphisms or RFLP, involved chopping up bits of DNA, and comparing the resulting fragment lengths. The technology currently in use is polymerase chain reaction or PCR, which takes a small DNA sample as a template, and makes billions of copies. PCR also compares the length of DNA fragments, but because it makes copies of the DNA sample, you don’t need nearly as much of it to get the same results. “Before, you may have needed 50 nanograms or a microgram of DNA. Now, you’re down to less than one nanogram of DNA.”

“With this new technique, you can get DNA evidence from crime scenes 40 to 50 years old,” says Jobin, "if you keep a sample dry or frozen, the DNA can last, intact, for thousands of years." Good news for cold case investigators!

Richard Jobin, Forensic DNA Specialist Photo

“I was a witness for the prosecution on the Kobe Bryant case, because I once studied how much DNA is left behind after laundering a semen stain. To do that study, I actually went to a Laundromat with three garbage bags of soiled panties. People were giving me strange looks and I was given quite a wide berth. You have to have a sense of humour when you’re doing forensic science.”

--Forensic DNA Specialist Richard Jobin PhD

Interrogating the Forum: The Forum Responds to 'You Write Like a Girl'

From the Mod:

This week in the forum BOOKED club members started a discussion about children and crime fiction. What do you do if you have a young detective on your hands? Or a young fan of thrillers?

If you're interested in participating in any of the Forum discussions, or have a topic you'd like to discuss, drop by the Forum. You must register as a Booked Club member to leave posts in the Forum, or to cast your vote in polls.

Sign up here!

From the Forum this week:

Carmen Sandiego: anyone here have kids who are interested in crime fiction? how do you monitor what they're reading once they get out of the nancy drew and encyclopedia brown sorts of novels? where do you draw the line, and how do you draw it?

froggy: I definitely think that parents should be monitoring what their kids read - at least until they're old enough to drive. I remember reading V.C Andrews books as a young teenager and now that I can look back - I definitely should not been reading them!

Tallgirl: Until they're old enough to drive?? No chance froggy. Maybe until they're 12 or so - by that age, they've already witnessed so much sex and violence on TV they're not even fazed by it. Honestly if I had kids I would much rather them reading crime fiction than watching television.
Altho there might be elements violence and sexuality in crime fiction books, I hope in most cases there's more of an element of realism to these aspects, and there is still a good guy going after a bad guy.

Last Words

Coming up on BOOKED Television: BOOKED investigates Giles Blunt's Blackfly Season. Expert lineup for this show: Book Reviewer Barry Hammond; Neurologist Dr. Wendy Johnston; Entomologist Felix Sperling PhD; Police Detective Jack Stewart
Check Broadcast Dates and Times

Look for the next Alibi - we'll introduce you to author Giles Blunt, and Entomologist Felix Sperling will tell us how maggots can help solve crime.

The views expressed in this ezine are those of the individual writers, and do not necessarily reflect the views of Reel Girls Media Inc.
©MMV Reel Girls Media All Rights Reserved

Here are the upcoming books, in order, that our experts will be dissecting in the weeks ahead.
Get reading!

Blackfly Season - Giles Blunt
Blood Memory - Greg Iles
The Maltese Falcon - Dashiell Hammett
Memory Book - Howard Engel
Shock Wave - James O. Born
Cross Bones - Kathy Reichs
He Who Fears the Wolf - Karin Fossum

For more information about the booklist or upcoming shows, visit

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