Amazon’s ‘Bosch’ Murder Plot Was Unintentionally Timely, Says Book Series Author and EP Michael Connelly

The cast and novel writer-executive producer tell TheWrap how the streaming video company’s first original scripted drama came together

Last Updated: February 13, 2015 @ 10:19 AM

Fans of the best-selling Harry Bosch books will finally get to see their hero, instead of just imagining him. Based on Michael Connelly’s uber-popular book series, “Bosch” premieres on Amazon on Friday, marking the streaming’s giant first foray into original scripted dramas.

The series follows the relentless LAPD homicide detective (Titus Welliver), as he pursues the killer of a 13-year-old, while standing trial on accusations that he murdered a suspected killer in cold blood.

“If you’re going to sign up to the circus, you want the whip and the chair,” Welliver told TheWrap. “I couldn’t write anything better for myself. It’s a very complex character.”

Even though the pilot was shot in 2013, the storyline is eerily reminiscent of the fatal shooting of Michael Brown that sparked riots and protest in Ferguson, Missouri, and other cities around the country in August.

On the pilot’s very first scene, Bosch chases after a suspected killer. But, when he finally catches up with him, the man reaches for a gun. Bosch fires his weapon and kills him.

“This discussion has been going on a long time,” Connelly said. “The shooting that starts at the beginning of the pilot and the trial is all out of the book from 1994, which was written in the shadow of the Rodney King case. Here we are 20 years later still talking about this stuff. So, there’s a timeliness to it but it was unintentional.”

Connelly, who also serves as executive producer, used bits and pieces of three different “Bosch” books for the script: “City of Bones,” “The Concrete Blonde” and “Echo Park.” To prepare for the role, actors underwent a special training session at LAPD headquarters in downtown Los Angeles.

“It was the most intense hour I’ve ever spent,” star Annie Wersching who plays Bosch’s rookie love-interest told TheWrap. “They put us in a simulator, where you’re in a room, and it’s basically a laser, and they put scenarios up on this big screen and over and over. You’re put in the position where you have to decide based on this person’s actions, are they reaching for a gun? Or are they reaching for a cell phone? And do you shoot? Or do you not shoot?”

The experience was eye-opening.

“It truly turned everything around for me,” said actress Amy Aquino, who plays Bosch’s boss, Lt. Grace Billets. “Everybody else runs when a gun comes out, the police have to run in.”

The actors said it helped them see things from a different perspective and be less judgmental of cops. Whether the show can help restore the reputation of law enforcement officers in the wake of the Ferguson shooting remains to be seen. But Amazon is hoping “Bosch” will further cements its standing as a serious player in the streaming world.

The company scored big with transgender comedy “Transparent,” which won Golden Globes for best TV comedy, as well as a best actor for star Jeffrey Tambor.

But, “Bosch” now enters Netflix territory, with fierce competition from shows like “House of Cards.”

“Bosch,” however, has something the other shows do not: a sizable built-in cult-following. With more than 50 million Bosch books sold worldwide, the show could give Amazon’s competitors a run for their money.

“We modeled the whole thing like a book,” said Connelly. “We’re calling the episodes ‘chapters.’ We also had a larger trajectory in mind: We had this idea we call a slingshot. We would have a certain amount of episodes be slowly pulling down at the slingshot and, then, you let it go and the things takes off and we put that in the fourth episode. If we were doing a weekly show, I don’t think we would even talk about it that way. We would just have big zingers at the end of every episode.”

Connelly admits the approach is a gamble, but he’s banking on a huge return.

“We took our time to establish the characters and built a story and it starts flying in episode 4,” he said. “We hope people will stick with it until then.”

It took Connelly more than 20 years to bring “Bosch” to the screen. He says he went with Amazon because he liked the synergy of having his books and the show on the same site.

Having sold his books, the company was familiar with the material — another big plus for the author. Amazon then sweetened the deal by giving Connelly creative freedom.

Connelly hired the creative team, and wrote the script. He even had a say in casting decisions.

“I knew these guys were brand new,” said Connelly. “At the time, Amazon studios had four people working for them. To me, that meant we weren’t going to get a whole lot of notes from a bunch of people who are either aware of these books or not. We really kind of saw it as a smooth way of getting a show made,” he said.

The 10 episodes of “Bosch” will be available for streaming on Amazon Prime on Friday.