I have been a relatively recent convert to Michael Connelly and his Hieronymus (Harry) Bosch series, but was excited to read The Late Show, the first in a new series featuring Detective Renee Ballard in 2017 (getting in on the ground floor kinda thing). I really liked her… she’s quirky – works nights and lives out of her van, sleeping on the beach in a tent during the day – and was left wanting more.
And she’s back in Connelly’s latest release but just when you think things can’t get any better (ie. the return of this new and fabulously interesting character) he damned well pairs her with Bosch in this outing. Oh. My. God.Dark Sacred Night
by Michael Connelly
Series: Harry Bosch #23, Renee Ballard #2
Published by Allen & Unwin
on October 29th 2018
Source: Allen & Unwin
Genres: Crime Fiction, Police Procedural
At the end of a long, dark night detectives Renee Ballard and Harry Bosch cross paths for the first time.
Detective Renee Ballard works the graveyard shift and returns to Hollywood Station in the early hours to find a stranger rifling through old files.
The intruder is none other than retired legendary LAPD detective Harry Bosch, hunting for leads in an unsolved case that has got under his skin.
Ballard escorts him out but -- curious to know what he was searching for -- soon becomes obsessed by the murder of Daisy Clayton. Was she the first victim of a serial killer who still stalks the streets?
For Bosch, the case is more than personal: it may be all he has left.
But in a city where crime never sleeps, even detectives have a dark side…
Initially I was thinking what a great pairing. Both rule breakers and ‘justice at all costs’ types. However… I realised (reading the book) that it’s not entirely the case. I mean the pairing is great, but in terms of their personalities… Bosch is more of the rule-breaker – more jaded and cynical and – in reality he’s no longer a real cop anyway. However, Ballard still worries more than she should about what people think. Both have strong consciences though and have very definite feelings about right and wrong.
I re-read my review of The Late Show before reading this to remind myself of Ballard’s character. I complained a little (there) about the lack of backstory but Connelly clears it up really quickly here (and perhaps he did so in the first but I missed it) as Ballard mentions her former boss’s actions that saw her make a complaint against him – not supported by her partner at the time who witnessed the event – and leading to her relegation to night shift (the Late Show). It’s mentioned and done and I like that it’s not belaboured.
There was some antipathy towards her in the first novel though she seemingly garnered respect from those around her and she doesn’t really cop any attitude here. But she’s three years into night shift so has her networks and routines.
Routines which are interrupted by the arrival of Harry Bosch. He’s doing a favour for the mother of a girl whose killer was never found. When Ballard catches him checking out old files she decides to take it on as a side project – something seemingly done with the endorsement of her current Lieutenant and the former case officers.
The pair partner up but Bosch is also preoccupied with another case (in his day job as a reservist working on cold cases) and it’s not long before the gang-related investigation results in an attempt on his life.
In my review of The Late Show I commented that I appreciated that Connelly didn’t try to link multiple cases together via some tenuous thread and the same can be said here. The cases are separate and distinct. In addition to the two major investigations there are several on the go at once and our story is often interrupted because Ballard’s got a call-out. I think that texture is one of the things I liked most about this book – the reality of it.
Of course there is a bit of a deductive leap near the end and one that’s able to be made purely by coincidence, but I guess that’s probably how breaks in cases often are presented.
The Bosch / Ballard pairing works well. Like I said they’re similar without being too much so. For me this book ends on a high and not because the baddies are all tied up with a pretty bow but because it looks like we’ll see more of this pairing.
And I know I should perhaps have prefaced that with the #spoileralert thing but it was unlikely either were going to get killed off. Yet anyway. So if they’re going to continue it might as well be as a pairing.
Dark Sacred Night by Micheal Connelly will be published in Australia by Allen & Unwin on 29 October 2018.
I received a copy of this book from the publisher for review purposes.