In 2017, Michael Connelly introduced a tough new lead character in The Late Show. Renee Ballard is a 30-something LAPD detective who had been forced out of the elite Robbery-Homicide division when she complained about sexual harassment by a superior officer. She’s now on the night shift in the Hollywood Division. And in Dark Sacred Night, Connelly pairs Ballard with Harry Bosch, the star of his long-running series of detective novels (as well as a television adaptation on Amazon Prime Video). This is a very promising start to a new series.
In Dark Sacred Night, Connelly solves a problem few authors of detective novels ever admit having. The first Harry Bosch novel was published in 1992, nearly 30 years ago. Harry has aged. Since 2015, he has been retired from the LAPD and working part-time on cold cases for a tiny neighboring department. Clearly, Harry is mortal. If the series is to continue indefinitely—and Michael Connelly is just 62 as I write this—someone younger and more vigorous needs to tackle the more physically challenging aspects of the job. Not to mention access to information available only to officers of the LAPD. Enter Renee Ballard. Problem solved.
Dark Sacred Night (Renee Ballard and Harry Bosch #1) by Michael Connelly (2018) 448 pages @@@@ (4 out of 5)
Harry Bosch’s new partner is a fascinating character
Ballard is a fascinating character. She is Eurasian. In Hawaii, her father had raised her after her mother died when Renee was young. Then, at age 12, her father disappeared in the ocean when surfing. Renee, too, is a surfer. Whenever circumstances permit, she takes her board out to the ocean for a workout and afterward sleeps in a tent on the beach. She seems to have no fixed residence. (Only in Los Angeles!) Her dog, Lola, spends nights at a kennel. And she is a stubborn and aggressive detective.
Two independent investigations
Unlike so many other mystery writers, Michael Connelly doesn’t usually write about one major case at a time. Typically, there are two or more investigations underway, and they don’t always intersect. That’s the case in Dark Sacred Night. Independently, Bosch and Ballard are pursuing cases on their own. Bosch is investigating the 14-year-old murder of a gang boss, hoping he can still find evidence that someone in the man’s own gang had killed him. Ballard is fielding calls on the night shift when Bosch surfaces in her office. A 15-year-old prostitute had been murdered nine years earlier, and Bosch is determined to find the killer. He draws Ballard into the case, which the two then work together.
For additional reading
This is one of The 20 best books of 2018 reviewed here. Also, you’ll find this and dozens of other excellent novels at 5 top Los Angeles mysteries and thrillers (plus lots of runners-up).
I reviewed The Late Show at Michael Connelly introduces a tough new lead character. I’ve also reviewed half a dozen of the author’s Harry Bosch novels. You can locate them by typing “Harry Bosch” in the Search box in the upper left-hand corner of the home page.
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- Top 10 mystery and thriller series;
- 20 excellent standalone mysteries and thrillers; and
- 20 outstanding detective series from around the world.
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