Harry Bosch, Michael Connelly & Pulling the Trigger on Chekov's Gun
Before we go any further, we have to make sure you know that the "MAJOR SPOILERS AHEAD!" sign is on because we're going to be discussing some important points from bestselling author Michael Connelly's latest Bosch & Ballard novel, Desert Star. So if you're not looking for spoilers or possible spoilers as we speculate over how Bosch's literary world could impact his television world, we would strongly advise you to turn back now. Otherwise, we'll see you after our image spoiler buffer…
At the end of the latest Bosch and Ballard novel Desert Star, Connelly revealed that Bosch has terminal cancer and may not have much time left. This wasn't a total shock, really, as Connelly has had cancer looming over Bosch's head like a Sword of Damocles. He just finally pulled the trigger on it now. Bosch had contracted cancer before. In his 2007 novel The Overlook, he investigated the murder of a doctor who had access to dangerous radioactive materials and had to race against the FBI and Homeland Security, who believed this was part of a terrorist plot to poison a major city, possibly Los Angeles. The hunt for both the killer and the missing cesium resulted in Bosch getting exposed, and he ends the story fearing that he could get cancer from it.
Bosch: Chekov's Gun Now Chekov's Cancer Diagnosis
Later, in the 2019 book The Night Fire, Bosch is diagnosed with cancer, after all, chronic myeloid leukemia, from his exposure to the cesium, and hires his half-brother Micky Haller, star of Connelly's Lincoln Lawyer books, to sue the LAPD for neglect and denying his pension, and ends up with a million dollars in compensation, which explains why Bosch, by then retired from the force, doesn't have to worry about money for the rest of the novels. He also undergoes the latest treatment, mostly in the form of pills rather than chemotherapy, and eventually, his cancer is in remission. To give a fictional hero cancer and then put it in remission is to introduce Chekov's Cancer Diagnosis. Every reader is vaguely aware that it could come back in the future if the author so chooses. Cancer never truly goes away. It is, in some ways, the ultimate killer in fiction. It's always lurking in the background, ready to be used like Chekov's Gun. No author brings it up unless they plan to pull the trigger sooner or later, and now Connelly has finally pulled it.
Authors often kill off their detective heroes. Arthur Conan Doyle tried it with Sherlock Holmes, only for fan demand to force him to bring him back, and Doyle eventually had Holmes retire to become a beekeeper in his old age. Agatha Christie killed off both Hercules Poirot and Miss Marple after long runs of books and stories. Now it looks like Connelly is calling time on Bosch, revealing that his cancer has come back and is terminal at the end of Desert Star. Connelly may or may not have introduced the possibility of Bosch getting cancer back in The Overlook as an option for eventually using it to end Bosch's story. His Bosch novels often ended with Bosch facing an uncertain future, perhaps with Connelly unsure of whether he had another book for the detective to inhabit before finding more to tell with him. With his cancer now in advanced stages, Bosch's days appear to be numbered. He will feature in the next Lincoln Lawyer novel, but it is unclear if he will appear in the book after that with Renee Ballard. The Overlook storyline was actually adapted for the Bosch TV series on Prime Video, which implies Connelly might be doing the same thing with the TV version, seeding a possible end for his hero when the time comes.
Bosch: Legacy is streaming on Freevee.
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