Still playing catch-up on Michael Connelly’s books, I recently read his novel The Drop, which features his usual protagonist, LA-based police detective Harry Bosch. Bosch is at home watching a security tape (well, a DVD), on his teenage daughter’s laptop. She asks him what it’s about. Bosch says to her:
‘This guy checking in, he goes up to his room on the seventh floor last night and this morning he’s found on the sidewalk below. I have to figure out if he jumped or if he got dropped.’
She stopped the playback.
‘If he was dropped, Dad. Please. You sound like a palooka when you talk like that.’
‘Sorry. How do you know what a “palooka” is, anyway?’
‘Tennessee Williams. I read. A palooka is an old fighter who’s like a lout. You don’t want to be like that.’
It’s not the first time Madeline has corrected her father. In ‘Harry Bosch, trainee prescriptivist’ I reported how (in Connelly’s The Reversal) she upbraided him for using nonstandard grammar: a dialect usage of the form I’m done my work. Me, I’d rather be a palooka than a peever, but Madeline is young; she’ll come round yet.
Connelly’s books are usually well edited, but The Drop has a few questionable items worth a look – not to find fault, but out of editorial and readerly interest. First: