Which Michael Connelly Book Should You Read First?
Michael Connelly is a prolific writer with more than 30 books to his name. He’s the author of both the Harry Bosch series and Lincoln Lawyer series, and his most recent series follows a new character—Detective Renée Ballard. If you want to start reading Michael Connelly’s books, it can be difficult to know where to start since he has multiple series—not to mention the fact that so many of his characters overlap and make cameos in each other’s books! This handy guide will help you figure out which Michael Connelly book to pick up first, and give you an entry point to all of his bestselling series.
If you want to read Connelly’s new 2019 book…
Back when Harry Bosch was just a rookie homicide detective, he had an inspiring mentor who taught him to take the work personally and light the fire of relentlessness for every case. Now that mentor, John Jack Thompson, is dead, and his widow gives Bosch a murder book, one that Thompson took with him when he left the LAPD twenty years before—the unsolved killing of a troubled young man.
Bosch takes the murder book to Detective Renée Ballard and asks her to help him discover what about this crime lit Thompson’s fire all those years ago. As she begins her inqueries—while still working her own cases on the midnight shift—Ballad finds aspects of the initial investigation that just don’t add up.
If you want to start at the very beginning…
The Black Echo—Michael Connelly's first novel—introduces readers to his most well-known character, Hieronymus "Harry" Bosch! This mystery kicks off with a body found in a drainpipe at Mulholland Dam. Detective Harry Bosch is called to the scene and is shocked to discover that the victim is someone he served with in Vietnam. Bosch faces an agonizing choice: solve the case and get justice for his brother-in-arms or track the killer and exact revenge.
You can check out the entire Harry Bosch series in order here.
If you like legal thrillers…
The Lincoln Lawyer introduces readers to Mickey Haller, a criminal defense attorney who operates out of the back of his Lincoln Town Car. He defends the types of criminals that people tend to overlook, the type that aren't usually able to pay a lot. When a high-paying client with a slam-dunk case drops in his lap, Mickey thinks he's received a stroke of good fortune...until someone close to him is murdered. Mickey realizes that the case is far from simple or lucky, and it'll take all of his wits to not only see justice served, but to save his own life.
Check out the entire Lincoln Lawyer series in order here.
Note: Mickey Haller also appears in the Harry Bosch series in Nine Dragons and The Crossing.
If you like to read about crime reporters…
Jack McAvoy is a Denver-based reporter who covers death. His latest assignment is to cover a serial killer who seems to be targeting homicide cops--but only those who have haunting, unsolved cases. The serial killer makes his work known by leaving a quotation from Edgar Allen Poe behind, and the hunt for the killer becomes personal for Jack when his brother, a homicide cop, is targeted. Jack digs into the case, turning up crimes nationwide in a desperate race to catch the killer before he can strike too close to home.
Follow it up with The Scarecrow!
If you are in the mood for a standalone thriller…
Terry McCaleb is a retired FBI agent recuperating from a heart transplant surgery when he receives an unexpected visitor with a shocking request: The sister of the woman whose heart he received wants him to solve her murder. Even though Terry is technically retired and has no standing with police or the FBI, he reviews the case as a favor, and out of a sense of duty to the woman whose heart he received... and discovers that the case may be someone far more dangerous than a random act of violence.
(Note: Terry McCaleb reappears in the 7th Bosch book, A Darkness More Than Night.)
If you want to read the backstory of Renée Ballard…
Renée Ballard works "the late show," aka the overnight shift at the LAPD in Hollywood. That means that while she's often the first person on the scene of a crime, she rarely gets to see her cases all the way through. But then she catches two cases that she simply just can't hand over: a prostitute beaten and left for dead, and a nightclub waitress shot to death. Burning both ends of the candle, Ballard works day and night to solve these cases, leading her to face a criminal who has her in his sights.
If you want to jump right in with Connelly’s newest series…
Renée Ballard is working her regular night shift when she discovers a stranger rifling through her records. It turns out that the intruder is legendary cop Harry Bosch, and a cold case has gotten under his skin. Renée won't simply give him what he's after, but she begins looking into the case herself. A tentative trust is formed between the two as they work to find the killer, and leverage their respective strengths in order to take down a criminal that neither could capture alone.
Follow it up with The Night Fire, the second book in the Ballard and Bosch series, on sale now! You can start reading the first five chapters of The Night Fire here.