The Late Show, by Michael Connelly
Introducing Renee Ballard
Fans of the author’s Harry Bosch series won’t be able to resist.
Renee Ballard is a police detective in Los Angeles. After a failed charge against her lieutenant in the homicide division, she has been reassigned to Hollywood, to ‘The Late Show,’ or the overnight shift. The issue she had there runs through the book, as she fights to hold on to her detective status, determined to do her job.
It took a little while for Detective Ballard to draw me in, but I think Mr. Connelly wrote her just that way. He is a master of both character development and understatement. As with Bosch, both detectives start off as routine cops, working the cases. The more you get to know them, they more they grow on you. Their methods of working a case seem very realistic, demonstrating the attention paid to the smallest detail to the moments of danger, success, and sometimes failure.
Ballard has her flaws, with her own difficulties getting along or fitting in. She’s been shut down enough that she prefers to go her own way, looking article by article for clues.
That is another of Michael Connelly’s talents. The ability to take very small pieces of evidence, barely noticed items, and develop them into major case breakers. We read of the detective looking again and again at a photo or something from the crime scene, until something jumps out at her.
The audio version of the book was rewarding as well. While some of the reviews of the narrator are negative, I thought the novel was read much as a routine police case might be read. That seems appropriate to me. Much of an investigation is fact finding, researching, seemingly uneventful activities. It isn’t all excitement or chase scenes. I liked Katherine Moennig’s voice. Please listen to the sample here to decide for yourself.
I loved the intricacy of the twists and reveals, so well designed to surprise the reader. Two cases to be investigated. Neither case belongs to Ballard and her partner, Jenkins. Yet Ballard pursues them ferociously, at the same time trying to low key it to her superiors. Her background, even her childhood, play into her need, putting her at risk from within and without. When she becomes a target herself, she may finally learn who she can trust.
It’s a fast paced, complex story that is sure to capture your interest. While I will still look forward to more of Bosch, Detective Ballard has my attention now as well. Hopefully there is more to come.
Personally I’d love to see Lola figure into the series more so she wouldn’t always be left behind. Ballard really needs to spend more time with her dog.
Grab a copy. You will love it!