Michael Connelly,
Crime Beat
(Time Warner, 2006)

Long before he became a published mystery novelist, Michael Connelly honed the skills he brings to his popular fiction by working as a beat reporter covering crime in Florida and California.

Connelly details that phase of his life in Crime Beat, which is a remarkable glimpse at the on-the-job training he would use to give him insight into police and the criminals they pursue.

In the introduction to this book, he tells how, as a 16-year-old dishwasher in a Fort Lauderdale hotel restaurant, he got his first look into this dark and gritty world when he became the sole witness to a crime. Though the case did not go well, Connelly explained the time he spent with detectives got him hooked. He became fascinated with crime stories and the detectives working the cases. He became a true crime and crime novel junkie. Soon, he knew he wanted to be a writer.

That said, this could have been a riveting book. Instead, it's a bit of a disappointment. The fault is not entirely Connelly's. There are some interesting cases discussed and, having worked the crime beat myself, I have to admire his skill as a reporter. Unfortunately, the stories included are primarily from reprints of earlier articles and, like newspaper coverage of events can be, they suffer from an excess of repetition.

Frankly, I found the introduction the most interesting part of the book. But I'm not sorry to have had this opportunity of broadening my knowledge of Connelly's journalistic background.

by John R. Lindermuth
26 May 2007

Buy it from Amazon.com.