IDOL TALK: Michael Connelly, James Lee Burke share an agent…

…and John D. MacDonald didn’t have a book published in hardback until his 20th novel, so says Philip Spitzer, agent for both Connelly and Burke.

I talked with Spitzer while reporting  my story about crime novelist Michael Connelly. Connelly is a former journalist (so there’s hope for me yet) who hit the big time with his third Harry Bosch novel. He finally quit his day job at the LA Times and went on to write dozens of bestselling crime thrillers. But he had to begin somewhere and that’s what I write about.

But back to Spitzer. He chatted about  Connelly and about how he never met Connelly until they were about to publish his first novel (Connelly was in LA, Spitzer in NYC and neither had the money at the time for frequently cross-country  travel.)

When Spitzer started out in publishing way back, (’60s and ’70s) mysteries were mostly issued in paperback. They weren’t given the respect they are today (economic, at least). Which is why MacDonald didn’t have a hardcover novel for a long time. Oh, and Spitzer has plenty to say about snotty publishers. More about that in a later post.

It was a different world when Spitzer got into the publishing business in 1961. To make ends meet before he landed some great authors, he drove a cab. One day he drove Katherine Hepburn to the moves. He also moonlighted at a flower shop and delivered a bouquet to Nat King Cole. Today, Spitzer no longer has to worry about money, repping both Connelly and Burke and such books as Andre Dubus’ House of Sand and Fog, which became a major motion picture. Of course everyone knows about Connelly’s Bosch series on Amazon. They are hoping to film the seventh and final season later this summer. (The Coronavirus will be the final determinant on that. )

Spitzer, who is in his 80s, doesn’t go into the office much any more (He has people, after all.). I’ll have a lot more tidbits from him in future blogs.

This month’s column in CrimeReads features Tess Gerritsen, who most people probably know for her Rizzoli and Isles series, which was a television show for seven years. She also wrote a novel that sounds and looks a lot like the movie “Gravity,” but Hollywood doesn’t admit to anything. More on that and more on Tess later…