Harry Bosch is a fictional friend of mine, and I have been missed him. Not that I haven’t been busy reading. I’ve read the New Yorker Fiction Issue, a number of college textbooks for teaching rhetoric and composition, and a smattering of poetry–because what is life without poetry? I’ve read books on constructing sentences and Daniel Deronda, in case I am asked to teach about images of women in literature. I’ve read books on dog training, veterinary medicine, and articles on various specialty aspects of poodle-dom for the manuscript on poodles I’m preparing. But last night, I wanted my old friend Harry Bosch to overcome terrible odds and have justice prevail. In two sittings he did.
But the other part about Harry is that he’s a topic of conversation between my father and me. At 84, my dad doesn’t have many interests left. His hands shake so he can’t paint the intricate uniformed miniatures or construct the ships and airplanes as he used to. He doesn’t get the opportunity to dance much and when he does, he tires easily. But he can read. A few weeks ago, we made the trip to Murder By the Book, our favorite mystery bookstore here in Portland. We filled a sack with books–some new, some used– because you’ve got to have the latest Michael Connolly (Harry’s creator), and Ellery Queen isn’t writing anymore. My father read the stack of books in two weeks and passed them to me. This week, we need to go back to Murder by the Book and select a new passel of books.
For my dad, not much seems just anymore. His friends are dying or gone. He has to use a cane to get around. He tries to make the best of it, but every day he feels he’s losing the battle. He’s tired of the cold and damp here and wishes that he were in a place where there are tall long-leaf pines and sunshine, where the humidity is so high that you could drink the air, but the air is too hot to swallow, and where the nearest Civil War battlefield is fifty miles away and not thousands. But, as long as he’s turning the pages of the books that he pulls from our book-shopping sack, the world seems better. He forgets where he is. Justice prevails and heros are safe for another day. That’s one of the pleasures of reading mystery and crime fiction. We can rely on Harry, my dad and I. No matter what his faults, Harry Bosch is a true arrow in a time when few people seem to be.