Bosch: Amazon’s jazzy detective
WASHINGTON, July 11, 2016 — In his epic three-panel painting, early renaissance artist Hieronymous Bosch depicts frail humanity from the moment Adam meets Eve, to the everlasting tortures awaiting the damned in hell. This masterwork gets its title from the triptych’s central panel, which displays the many debaucheries to which men and women are prone: “The Garden of Earthly Delights.”
It’s appropriate that the central character in Amazon Studio’s original detective series “Bosch” is named for the painter of perversion and perdition, though his friends just call him Harry.
Harry Bosch (Titus Welliver) comes with a backstory that haunts him throughout the show’s two seasons: His mother, a prostitute, is murdered when Harry is a child and her killer is never caught.
It is the fallout from this personal tragedy that fuels the adult Bosch’s obsession to solve the murder of a boy, abused and buried on a lonely, urban hillside. A cold case more than two decades old.
There is also his quest to catch a serial killer, a monster with a keen interest in and mysterious connection to the homicide detective from LAPD’s Hollywood division.
The mystery surrounding the death of his mother relentlessly drives Bosch to tease answers to questions surrounding his cases, even at the expense of his personal relationships; he is divorced, and his teenage daughter has only reluctantly accepted his absence at milestone events.
Eleanor Wish (Sarah Clarke), Bosch’s ex, has an interesting backstory of her own. Once an FBI profiler, she ran afoul of the Bureau after acquiring a large gambling debt. She moved with her daughter Maddie (Madison Lintz) to Hong Kong to pursue gambling as a career, but eventually relocated to Las Vegas with her daughter and new husband to play poker against high-rollers on behalf of several casinos.
In season two, Bosch attempts to arrange for Eleanor to get back into the good graces of the FBI, provided she and her daughter can survive a kidnapping by LA’s Armenian mob and Detective Bosch can outsmart trigger-happy and corrupt LAPD officers out to steal the shirts off the backs of LA’s criminal underworld.
The cast includes a bottom-feeding civil-rights attorney, Honey Chandler (Mimi Rogers), who is on a mission to brand Bosch a murderous loose cannon in wrongful-death lawsuits filed on behalf of grieving widows of the city’s deceased villains.
Best of all is the music: magnificent jazz. A genre whose music the artist never performs the same way twice, its fleeting and ephemeral beauty thankfully captured in recordings. Sound etched on vinyl disks Bosch unsheathes from their protective sleeves and plays on a turntable in his magnificent hilltop home, with floor-to-ceiling windows that overlook Hollywood’s Sunset Boulevard and beyond.
Like saxophonist Sonny Rollins’ “Silk ‘n’ Satin” (1954), or his tour de force solo in “Dig” when part of the Miles Davis Sextet (1951). And pianist Junior Mace’s soulful interpretation of “Willow Weep for Me” while a member of the Dizzy Gillespie Quintet (1959).
These, and many more, form an integral part of the tapestry that is this detective’s complex and arresting interior life.
“Bosch” is now streaming on Amazon Prime.