Michael Connelly is an award-winning crime thriller author. If you’re looking to start reading his work, we have compiled a list of the best Michael Connelly books. Our list has been created according to Goodreads users and taking their reviews into account.
All of the books on our list take place within Connelly’s Harry Bosch Universe. So, if you are brand new to his works the below summaries may contain potential spoilers from throughout the series. But if you’re eager to read the best of the best of Connelly’s books, or compare your personal favorites against this list, keep reading.
Who is Michael Connelly?
But first, let’s dive into a little bit of information about the author.
Michael Connelly is the bestselling author of 36 novels, most of which take place within the Harry Bosch Universe. Collectively, his books have sold more than 80 million copies worldwide and have been translated into 45 languages.
As well, his books have been adapted into star-studded films. In 2002, Blood Work was adapted into a film directed by Clint Eastwood, in which he also starred. In 2011, The Lincoln Lawyer premiered starring Matthew McConaughey as Mickey Haller. In addition, the Lincoln Lawyer was adapted to a TV series on Netflix in 2022.
Amazon Prime has also adapted Harry Bosch into a TV drama series starring Titus Welliver as Harry. Connelly is a producer and writer on the show.
Before he became an author, Connelly worked as a journalist at newspapers in Florida and California. As a journalist he specialized in the crime beat. He brings those experiences into his writing and says that there is a grain of truth at the center of all his books.
Summary of the Best Michael Connelly Books
While most of Connelly’s books are self-contained crime thrillers with a mystery that wraps up by the end, it can sometimes be useful to start at the beginning of a series to experience the character development as the author intended. This list does not approach the series in order.
Instead, we’ve compiled the best Michael Connelly books by looking at Goodreads user data. All of the books on this list have more than 50,000 ratings. As well, all have an average rating that is higher than 4.0 on Goodreads 5.0 scale.
Therefore, this list will jump around and feature books from across Michael Connelly’s Harry Bosch Universe. So consider yourself doubly warned if you’re new to his works and wary of any potential spoilers. However, if your interest has been piqued, or you’re already a dedicated fan, continue reading to find out about the best Michael Connelly books.
15. The Crossing
Our list begins with The Crossing, which is the eighteenth book in Michael Connelly’s Harry Bosch series. This book has been read and rated nearly 54,000 times on Goodreads.
Detective Harry Bosch has retired from the LAPD, but his half-brother, defense attorney Mickey Haller, needs his help. A woman has been brutally murdered in her bed and all evidence points to Haller’s client, a former gang member turned family man. Though the murder rap seems ironclad, Mickey is sure it’s a setup.
Bosch doesn’t want anything to do with crossing the aisle to work for the defense. He feels it will undo all the good he’s done in his thirty years as a homicide cop.
But Mickey promises to let the chips fall where they may. If Harry proves that his client did it, under the rules of discovery, they are obliged to turn over the evidence to the prosecution.
Though it goes against all his instincts, Bosch reluctantly takes the case. The prosecution’s file just has too many holes and he has to find out for himself. If Haller’s client didn’t do it, then who did?
With the secret help of his former LAPD partner Lucy Soto, Harry starts digging. Soon his investigation leads him inside the police department. There he realizes that the killer he’s been tracking has also been tracking him.
14. Two Kinds of Truth
Next, we go to another book within the Harry Bosch series, which is Connelly’s longest-running and most popular series. This book has been rated nearly 58,000 times. It is the twentieth book within the Harry Bosch series and thirtieth in the over-arching Harry Bosch Universe.
Harry Bosch is back as a volunteer working cold cases for the San Fernando Police Department and is called out to a local drug store where a young pharmacist has been murdered. Bosch and the town’s 3-person detective squad sift through the clues, which lead into the dangerous, big business world of pill mills and prescription drug abuse.
Meanwhile, an old case from Bosch’s LAPD days comes back to haunt him when a long-imprisoned killer claims Harry framed him, and seems to have new evidence to prove it. Bosch left the LAPD on bad terms, so his former colleagues aren’t keen to protect his reputation. He must fend for himself in clearing his name and keeping a clever killer in prison.
The two unrelated cases wind around each other like strands of barbed wire. Along the way Bosch discovers that there are two kinds of truth: The kind that sets you free and the kind that leaves you buried in darkness.
13. The Concrete Blonde
The third book within the Harry Bosch series has just more than 60,000 ratings and is thirteenth on our list.
Detective Harry Bosch was sure he’d shot the serial killer responsible for a string of murders in LA. But now, a new crime makes him question his convictions.
They call him the Dollmaker, a serial killer who stalks Los Angeles and leaves a grisly calling card on the faces of his female victims. When a suspect is shot by Detective Harry Bosch, everyone believes the city’s nightmare is over.
But then the dead man’s widow sues Harry and the LAPD for killing the wrong man. An accusation that rings terrifyingly true when a new corpse is found with the Dollmaker’s macabre signature.
Now, for the second time, Harry must hunt down a ruthless death-dealer before he strikes again. Careening through a blood-tracked quest, Harry will go from the hard edges of the L.A. night to the last place he ever wanted to go – the darkness of his own heart…
12. The Drop
The Drop is the fifteenth Harry Bosch novel and has more than 60,000 ratings on Goodreads. It places twelfth on our list of the best Michael Connelly books.
Harry Bosch has been given three years before he must retire from the LAPD, and he wants cases more fiercely than ever. In one morning, he gets two.
DNA from a 1989 rape and murder matches a 29-year-old convicted rapist. Was he an eight-year-old killer or has something gone terribly wrong in the new Regional Crime Lab? The latter possibility could compromise all of the lab’s DNA cases currently in court.
Then Bosch and his partner are called to a death scene fraught with internal politics. Councilman Irvin Irving’s son jumped or was pushed from a window at the Chateau Marmont. Irving, Bosch’s longtime nemesis, has demanded that Harry handle the investigation.
Relentlessly pursuing both cases, Bosch makes two chilling discoveries: A killer operating unknown in the city for as many as three decades, and a political conspiracy that goes back into the dark history of the police department.
11. Trunk Music
As we near the top ten best Michael Connelly books, Goodreads users continue to love Harry Bosch with #11 on our list being the fifth book in the series with more than 61,000 ratings.
Back on the job after an involuntary leave of absence, LAPD homicide detective Harry Bosch is ready for a challenge. But his first case is a little more than he bargained for.
It starts with the body of a Hollywood producer in the trunk of a Rolls-Royce, shot twice in the head at close range. It looks like “trunk music,” a Mafia hit. But the LAPD’s organized crime unit is curiously uninterested.
When Harry follows a trail of gambling debts to Las Vegas, the case suddenly becomes more complex – and much more personal.
A rekindled romance with an old girlfriend opens new perspectives on the murder, and he begins to glimpse a shocking triangle of corruption and collusion. Yanked off the case, Harry himself is soon the one being investigated. But only a bullet can stop Harry when he’s searching for the truth…
10. The Reversal
Edging into the top 10 best Michael Connelly books is the third installment in the Mickey Haller series with more than 63,000 ratings. While a separate series, Mickey is connected to the beloved fan favorite Harry Bosch and takes place within the same universe. A defense attorney in Los Angeles, Mickey is Harry’s paternal half-brother.
Longtime defense attorney Mickey Haller finds himself recruited to change stripes and prosecute the high-profile retrial of a brutal child murder.
After 24 years in prison, new DNA evidence means convicted killer Jason Jessup has been granted another trial. Haller takes the case on the condition that he gets to choose his investigator: LAPD Detective Harry Bosch.
Haller becomes convinced Jessup is guilty. Together, Bosch and Haller set off on a case fraught with political and personal danger. Opposing them is Jessup, now out on bail, his defense attorney who excels at manipulating the media, and a runaway eyewitness reluctant to testify after so many years.
With the odds and the evidence against them, Bosch and Haller must nail a sadistic killer once and for all. What does Bosch think? If he’s sure of anything, it’s that Jason Jessup plans to kill again.
9. The Fifth Witness
The Fifth Witness is the fourth installment in the Mickey Haller series and has 65,000 ratings on Goodreads making it ninth on our list.
In this book, Mickey Haller has fallen on tough times. He expands his business into foreclosure defense. Only to see one of his clients accused of killing the banker she blames for trying to take away her home.
Mickey puts his team into high gear to exonerate Lisa Trammel, even though the evidence and his own suspicions tell him his client is guilty. Soon after he learns that the victim had black market dealings of his own, Haller is assaulted too. And then he’s certain he’s on the right trail.
Despite the danger and uncertainty, Haller mounts the best defense of his career in a trial where the last surprise comes after the verdict is in.
8. The Brass Verdict
The Brass Verdict is the second Mickey Haller book, while also being the fourteenth Harry Bosch book chronologically and eighteenth within the overall Universe. It has more than 66,000 ratings on Goodreads.
Things are finally looking up for defense attorney Mickey Haller. After two years of wrong turns, Haller is back in the courtroom.
When Hollywood lawyer Jerry Vincent is murdered, Haller inherits his biggest case yet. The defense of Walter Elliott, a prominent studio executive accused of murdering his wife and her lover. But as Haller prepares for the case that could launch him into the big time, he learns that Vincent’s killer may be coming for him next.
Enter Harry Bosch. Determined to find Vincent’s killer, he is not opposed to using Haller as bait. But as danger mounts and the stakes rise, these two loners realize their only choice is to work together.
7. The Wrong Side of Goodbye
The seventh book on our list is The Wrong Side of Goodbye. While this book has 64,000 ratings, which is less than the previous two books on our list, it has a higher star rating which pushes it up to the seventh spot. This is also the nineteenth Harry Bosch book.
Harry Bosch is California’s newest private investigator. He doesn’t advertise, he doesn’t have an office, and he’s picky about who he works for, but it doesn’t matter. His chops from thirty years with the LAPD speak for themselves.
Soon one of Southern California’s biggest moguls comes calling. The reclusive billionaire is nearing the end of his life and is haunted by one regret. When he was young, he had a relationship with a Mexican girl, his great love.
But soon after becoming pregnant, she disappeared. Did she have the baby? And if so, what happened to it?
Desperate to know whether he has an heir, the dying magnate hires Bosch, the only person he can trust. With such a vast fortune at stake, Harry realizes that his mission could be risky not only for himself but for the one he’s seeking. But as he begins to uncover the haunting story – and finds uncanny links to his own past – he knows he cannot rest until he finds the truth.
At the same time, unable to leave cop work behind completely, he volunteers as an investigator for a tiny cash-strapped police department and finds himself tracking a serial rapist who is one of the most baffling and dangerous foes he has ever faced.
6. The Last Coyote
This novel is the fourth in the Harry Bosch series. It has more than 67,000 ratings on Goodreads and edges us ever closer to our top five picks.
Harry attacked his commanding officer and is suspended indefinitely, pending a psychiatric evaluation. At first he resists the LAPD shrink, but finally recognizes that something is troubling him and has for a long time. In 1961, when Harry was twelve, his mother, a prostitute, was brutally murdered, and no one has ever been accused of the crime.
With the spare time a suspension brings, Harry opens up the thirty-year-old file on the case and is irresistibly drawn into a past he has always avoided. It’s clear that the case was fumbled and the smell of a cover-up is unmistakable.
Someone powerful was able to divert justice and Harry vows to uncover the truth. As he relentlessly follows the broken pieces of the case, the stirred interest causes new murders and pushes Harry to the edge of his job. And his life.
5. The Late Show
Coming in as the fifth best Michael Connelly book is his first in the Renée Ballard series: The Late Show. This book has more than 70,000 ratings. As well, this series also takes place within the Harry Bosch Universe.
Renée Ballard works the night shift in Hollywood, beginning many investigations but finishing none as each morning she turns her cases over to day shift detectives. A once up-and-coming detective, she’s been given this beat as punishment after filing a sexual harassment complaint against a supervisor.
But one night she catches two cases she doesn’t want to part with: The brutal beating of a prostitute left for dead in a parking lot and the killing of a young woman in a nightclub shooting. Ballard is determined not to give up at dawn.
Against orders and her own partner’s wishes, she works both cases by day while maintaining her shift by night. As the cases entwine, they pull her closer to her own demons and the reason she won’t give up her job no matter what the department throws at her.
4. The Black Ice
The second installment in the Harry Bosch series has more than 71,000 ratings on Goodreads. The Black Ice ranks fourth on our list of Michael Connelly’s best books.
Narcotics officer Cal Moore’s orders were to look into the city’s latest drug killing. Instead, he ends up in a motel room with a fatal bullet wound to the head and a suicide note stuffed in his back pocket.
Working the case, LAPD detective Harry Bosch is reminded of the primal police rule he learned long ago: Don’t look for the facts, but the glue that holds them together.
Soon Harry’s making some very dangerous connections, starting with a dead cop and leading to a bloody string of murders that wind from Hollywood Boulevard to the back alleys south of the border. Now this battle-scarred veteran will find himself in the centre of a complex and deadly game – one in which he may be the next and likeliest victim.
3. The Poet
Cracking the top three of the best Michael Connelly books is The Poet, which is the first book in the Jack McEvoy series. It has more than 93,000 ratings on Goodreads and is also part of Connelly’s Harry Bosch Universe.
Denver crime-beat reporter Jack McEvoy specializes in violent death. So when his homicide detective brother kills himself, McEvoy copes in the only way he knows how – he decides to write the story.
But his research leads him to suspect a serial killer is at work. A devious murderer who’s killing cops and leaving a trail of poetic clues. It’s the news story of a lifetime if he can get the story without losing his life.
2. The Black Echo
Whilst Michael Connelly’s longest-running series Harry Bosch obviously dominated this list of his best books, the first book in the series ranks at #2. However, The Black Echo still has an impressive 175,000 ratings on Goodreads and is one you should be sure to pick up.
For maverick LAPD homicide detective Harry Bosch, the body in the drainpipe at Mulholland Dam is more than another anonymous statistic. This one is personal.
That’s because the murdered man was a fellow Vietnam “tunnel rat” who had fought side-by-side with him in a hellish underground war. Now Bosch is about to relive the horror of Nam.
From a dangerous maze of blind alleys to a daring criminal heist beneath the city, his survival instincts will once again be tested to their limit. Pitted against enemies inside his own department and forced to make the agonizing choice between justice and vengeance, Bosch goes on the hunt for a killer whose true face will shock him.
1. The Lincoln Lawyer
Finally, at the top of our list as the best Michael Connelly book is The Lincoln Lawyer. This is the first Mickey Haller novel, and it has twice the number of ratings as our book in the #3 spot with nearly 215,000 ratings on Goodreads.
Mickey Haller has spent all his professional life afraid that he wouldn’t recognize innocence if it stood right in front of him. But what he should have been on the watch for was evil.
Haller is a Lincoln Lawyer, a criminal defense attorney who operates out of the back seat of his Lincoln Town Car. He travels between the far-flung courthouses of Los Angeles to defend clients of every kind. Bikers, con artists, drunk drivers, drug dealers: They’re all on Mickey Haller’s client list.
For him, the law is rarely about guilt or innocence. It’s about negotiation and manipulation. Sometimes it’s even about justice.
A Beverly Hills playboy arrested for attacking a woman he picked up in a bar chooses Haller to defend him, and Mickey has his first high-paying client in years. It is a defense attorney’s dream, what they call a franchise case. And as the evidence stacks up, Haller comes to believe this may be the easiest case of his career.
Then someone close to him is murdered and Haller discovers that his search for innocence has brought him face-to-face with evil as pure as a flame. To escape without being burned, he must deploy every tactic, feint, and instinct in his arsenal – this time to save his own life.
15 Best Michael Connelly Books Wrap-Up
Are you a big Michael Connelly fan? What do you think of this list of the top 15 best Michael Connelly books? Again, we compiled our list using Goodreads data, so these are the titles that most people have been reading and rating.
Here is the list once more so you can check out Connelly’s best books for yourself.
- The Lincoln Lawyer (2005)
- The Black Echo (1992)
- The Poet (1996)
- The Black Ice (1993)
- The Late Show (2017)
- The Last Coyote (1995)
- The Wrong Side of Goodbye (2016)
- The Brass Verdict (2008)
- The Fifth Witness (2011)
- The Reversal (2010)
- Trunk Music (1997)
- The Drop (2011)
- The Concrete Blonde (1994)
- Two Kinds of Truth (2017)
- The Crossing (2015)
Looking for more books in order?
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