CONNELLY, Michael (b. 1956). The Black Echo. Boston: Little Brown, 1992. 8°. Original cloth-backed boards; dust jacket.
FIRST EDITION, signed twice on the title-page, with Connelly indicating which was the 1992 signature and which the 2014 signature for PEN! “So this is my first published novel,” he writes on the front flyleaf. “Not my first, mind you. I wrote a couple of novels earlier that are in a drawer somewhere—an appropriate fate. But I had to write those in order to write this one. It was all part of the learning experience!” Across the fore-edge he has written in bold, red ink: “HOLD FAST.” That, he explains, was the phrase “tattooed across Harry Bosch’s knuckles (when he was a kid).” On the half-title he writes: “This novel uses the tunnel as metaphor. I had a fear of tunnels as a kid. I came up with this title while thinking about that fear and linking it to the tunnels in this book.” The inspiration of his story, he explains in another note, came from an episode that occurred when he was a reporter for the L.A. Times, where he worked for seven years. “Thieves used stormwater tunnels to get beneath a bank and then drilled up into the vault on a holiday weekend. That true crime (never solved) inspired this novel.” There are touching biographical details in his annotations. On the dedication page he says, “I’m a writer because my parents encouraged me to pursue my dream. Sadly, my father passed away 5 months before my first book was published. But he knew it was going to happen and I am grateful for that.” Connelly has also tipped in images of “Tunnel Rat” (p. 18), and his protagonist, Harry Bosch, from his Vietnam days (p.34). He has also loosely inserted photocopies of his 1990 correspondence with his agent, Phillip G. Spitzer. “Your enthusiasm is certainly contagious,” he tells Spitzer, “and I hope you are successful in placing the book.” Spitzer’s first approach, to Knopf, failed (the rejection letter is included here). But Little Brown was next and “they,” Connelly writes, “were smart enough to see a future for Harry Bosch!”