Friday, August 05, 2011

a reference in time

I often start reading books by authors after watching films based on them. Sometimes it takes just one film. This was the case with Tell No One that got me started on Harlan Coben or the case with The First Deadly Sin, which sent me off on a Lawrence Sanders trip.

With Michael Connelly it took two films years apart. I caught Blood Work, simply because it was a Clint Eastwood film. Years later (a few weeks ago, to be precise), The Lincoln Lawyer provided an example of competent handling of familiar tropes (see also: Vacancy). A visit to the library yielded my first Michael Connelly book, Angels Flight. The absence of an almost certain apostrophe in the title may be a coincidental nod to a similar flourish in Finnegans Wake. Although this was part of a series of books featuring Hieronymus "Harry" Bosch (no relation to but named for the Dutch painter with the same name), it worked well as a work in itself. The end of page 76 of the hardbound edition yielded an interesting surprise:

Next to the stairs a lighted bus stop had been cut into the steep hill. There was a fibreglass sunshade over a double-length bench. The side partitions were used to advertise films. On the one Bosch could see there was an ad for an Eastwood picture called Blood Work. The movie was based on a true story about a former FBI agent Bosch was acquainted with.

Things get clearer on page 78:

The bus stop hadn't been used. Rider came up next to him and followed his gaze.

"Hey, did you know Terry McCaleb over at the bureau?" she asked.
"Yeah, we worked a case once. Why, you know him?"
"Not really. But I've seen him on TV. He doesn't look like Clint Eastwood, if you ask me."
"Yeah, not really."

This was a reference that proved very interesting, not just because it linked my first Connelly book to the first film that I had seen based on his work, but also because the reference seems to break the rules of time: Angels Flight was published in 1999 and Blood Work was released in 2002 (the book was published in 1998). I know what you're thinking -- did Connelly do to this book what George Lucas did to the Star Wars trilogy years later? He probably did not.

A more reasonable explanation would be that Eastwood had optioned the book, but that the actual filming started late and consequently the film hit the marquee in 2002. An interview hosted at the Barnes and Noble page for the book suggests that this is indeed what had transpired:

Jim Charter from Ames, IA: Hi, Michael. I just finished ANGELS FLIGHT and loved it, of course. I have to know, though, if you were just playing with us, or is Clint Eastwood really going to make BLOOD WORK?

Michael Connelly: Your guess is as good as mine. Eastwood optioned the story last year and hired an Academy Award-winning screenwriter to adapt it. That is where it stands right now. In that respect the mention in ANGELS FLIGHT is fantasy

There you go.

1 comment:

Paresh Palicha said...

Coincidentally, I'm waiting my copy of Blood Work from an used books store. :)

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.