Renee Ballard and Harry Bosch in a brilliant police procedural

The Night Fire is a brilliant police procedural.

Michael Connelly introduced LAPD Detective Harry Bosch with the publication in 1992 of The Black Echo. Now, two dozen novels later, Harry is retired from the police force and nearing seventy. With the writing on that wall as clear as it could be, Connelly debuted the much younger Detective Renee Ballard in 2017 in The Late Show and paired her with Harry a year later in Dark Sacred Night. It’s clear this is a marriage (of sorts) made wherever good marriages are made.


The Night Fire (Renee Ballard and Harry Bosch #2) by Michael Connelly (2019) 417 pages

@@@@@ (5 out of 5)


He bends the rules, she breaks them

In The Night Fire, the brilliance of the pairing between Harry and Renee is evident on every page. Harry no longer has access to the resources of the LAPD; Renee does. He’s willing to bend the rules; she breaks them with abandon. Harry has found that Renee operates under much the same maxim: “Everybody counts, or nobody counts.” And the respect between the two is palpable.

A brilliant police procedural

The Night Fire is a brilliant example of the police procedural. As Marilyn Stasio wrote in her New York Times Book Review column (October 18, 2019), “Connelly is pretty much the current dean of procedural writers. His main characters — Bosch, Ballard and Haller — use different methods, but nobody misses a trick.”

Not one mystery but several

As is typical of the police procedural, Harry and Renee tackle not one mystery but several. At the outset, Harry inherits a cold case from his late mentor, John Jack Thompson, when the man’s widow passes along a nearly thirty-year-old murder book following the funeral. Meanwhile, Renee stumbles onto the suspicious death of a young homeless man in an encampment tent. And Harry’s half-brother, “Lincoln Lawyer” Mickey Haller, draws him as an investigator into the seemingly hopeless defense of an accused murderer. To confuse matters further, other cases crop up on Renee’s “late show” beat in Hollywood. Because the two detectives are so busy, they can’t always move each case along at the speed they would like — but, fear not, Harry and Renee will get the job done.

For additional reading

Michael Connelly introduced Renee Ballard in The Late Show, which I reviewed at Renee Ballard, a tough new lead character. Her first joint appearance with Harry Bosch came in Dark Sacred Night (Harry Bosch’s new partner costars in “Dark Sacred Night”).

Check out “Michael Connelly reveals how ‘Bosch’ was born and other tales of his humble rise to fame.” It’s an interview that appeared in the Washington Post Book World (October 16, 2019).

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