Sunday, July 16, 2017
Book Review: "The Late Show" by Michael Connelly
The good news is, with The Late Show, he's introduced a brand new character to get hooked on, LAPD Detective Renée Ballard. She has her issues (and I look forward to Connelly spending more time exploring them in future books) but she's definitely not as dark and cynical as Bosch is (not that there's anything wrong with that). And with this new book, once again, Connelly proves he's a master at weaving suspense, emotion, character development, and some good-old-fashioned police work.
Ballard works the night shift in Hollywood, known as the late show. She and her partner are often the first to respond to different incidents throughout the night and early morningrobberies, assaults, the occasional homicidebut they usually don't see them through to fruition, because they're kicked to the day squad. This frustrates Ballard, who once had a promising path as a detective, only to be shuffled to the late show after filing a sexual harassment complaint against a supervisor.
She loves the job, but it frustrates her, because she has so much more potential than taking initial statements and then leaving them to someone else to solve. And she knows that she could solve at least some of the cases, probably more so than those who take them on, but overtime isn't allowed, and she just needs to learn how to play the game.
But one night gives her a little more than she bargains for. First, she and her partner are called to the scene of a transgender prostitute who was brutally beaten and left for dead. The amount of violence perpetrated on this individual amazes Ballard, and she is reluctant to let the case go, because she wants to find who could do such a thing. While at the hospital, they're called to watch over a young waitress shot in what appears to be a multiple homicide case at a nightclub. When the woman dies from her injuries, Ballard wants to understand if she was intended to be a victim or if she was just collateral damage.
Both cases give her more than she bargained for. And as much digging as she wants to do on the nightclub shooting, the lead detective on the case is her former supervisor who had her demoted to the late show, and her former partner, who refused to back her up in her claims, is involved. The more she gets involved trying to track down the perpetrator in the assault case, and the more she tries to find dirt in the shooting, the more she finds the cases are intertwined, and bring her own demons to light at the same time.
"To me it's like the laws of physicsfor every action, there is an opposite and equal reaction. If you go into darkness, the darkness goes into you. You then have to decide what to do with it. How to keep yourself safe from it. How to keep it from hollowing you out."
Renée Ballard is a brilliantly drawn character. I love her determination, her hard-headedness, her vulnerability, her strong (if occasionally misplaced) sense of right and wrong, and the way she takes her job seriously. She is definitely flawed, and you can see the potential for those flaws to cause her danger. But she is a truly fascinating character, and in Connelly's hands, she so transpires the stereotypical qualities you often see in fictional female detectives.
Once again, Connelly does a terrific job balancing the narrative of the story with its suspense and action. There are a few twists and turns along the way, and I was hooked from the start. Reading The Late Show reminded me why Connelly is one of the greatest crime writers around, and it makes me want to kick myself that I've let so much time slip by since I've last read one of his Bosch books.
Ballard isn't portrayed as a superwoman, but she's a super woman, and one I can't wait to see in another book sometime soon. This is a fantastic start to a new series I hope has the staying power of Bosch's.
NetGalley and Little, Brown and Company provided me an advance copy of the book in exchange for an unbiased review. Thanks for making this available!