Dark Sacred Night (Harry Bosch #21, Renee Ballard #2) by Michael Connelly
This post may contain spoilers.
Connolly has created a superb character in detective Harry Bosch, supplemented that with his excellent half brother Mickey Haller and recently introduced a very intriguing new character with Renee Ballard. In this novel he brings Bosch and Haller together in one interlinked story.
This is an interesting concept. Bosch is well established as a bit of a lone wolf and with no hesitation about stepping outside of the line when circumstances require it. Ballard is also very much a loner. She is effectively homeless, working the unwanted night shift and with her dog as the only consistent relationship in her life. When we first met her we were given the impression that the “late show” was a punishment for lodging a harassment complaint against her former superior officer but in this book we get the strong message that she likes working it as she doesn’t have to interact with many other colleagues. In fact she’s particularly happy this time as she’s running solo with her partner off on leave. The author blends these two lone wolves together very well.
I particularly liked the way he took the chapters and focused them on one character at a time. Their stories overlap and become more and more entwined as the story progresses but it’s really good to see it told from the individual points of view. It also helps with the momentum of the plot as he brings them together more frequently as it picks up pace towards the end.
On top of all of this the author has created two very interesting cases to be worked. Bosch is working a cold case as a reserve officer with a local police force (San Fernando Valley) but trying to solve an old case of the brutal murder of Daisy Clayton. This has become particularly personal with Daisy’s mother now living in his house as she gets clean from her own battle with drug addiction. Ballard comes across Bosch and eventually takes on the Clayton investigation as a hobby case to work it officially from within LAPD.
This Clayton investigation is the basis of the recent Bosch: Legacy TV show which made this feel very familiar. As a fan of Bosch on TV I can’t help but overlay Titus Welliver’s portrayal on to the book character. Despite the huge variations it doesn’t cause any problems for me and in some ways, enhances the books.
I found the partnering of Bosch and Ballard very enjoyable in this book and it seems there are more to come. I would like to see Ballard getting another book of her own though as she is a brilliant character in her own right.
Narcotics office Cal Moore’s orders were to look into the city’s latest drug killing. Instead, he ends up in a motel room with a fatal bullet wound to the head and a suicide note stuffed in his back pocket.
Working the case, LAPD detective Harry Bosch is reminded of the primal police rule he learned long ago: don’t look for the facts, but the glue that holds them together.
Soon Harry’s making some very dangerous connections, starting with a dead cop and leading to a bloody string of murders that wind from Hollywood Boulevard to the back alleys south of the border. Now this battle-scarred veteran will find himself in the centre of a complex and deadly game – one in which he may be the next and likeliest victim.
My Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
Loved this, it’s Bosch at his best, fighting hard to get to the truth and giving the finger to the brass on the way. The author really builds Harry here as the lone wolf but also betrays his lonely side through his attraction to two different women. His back story is filled in quite significantly and we get to know the man behind the man.
Renée Ballard works the night shift in Hollywood, beginning many investigations but finishing none as each morning she turns her cases over to day shift detectives. A once up-and-coming detective, she’s been given this beat as punishment after filing a sexual harassment complaint against a supervisor.
But one night she catches two cases she doesn’t want to part with: the brutal beating of a prostitute left for dead in a parking lot and the killing of a young woman in a nightclub shooting. Ballard is determined not to give up at dawn. Against orders and her own partner’s wishes, she works both cases by day while maintaining her shift by night. As the cases entwine they pull her closer to her own demons and the reason she won’t give up her job no matter what the department throws at her.
My Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
This is just superb! Michael Connelly is best known for his books about LA detective Harry Bosch set in the 80s and 90s. This is a brand new character for him and is set in the much more modern mid 2010s. For an author that spent so much time writing about men this is a female character and from a totally male perspective I think he’s done a fantastic job of creating a strong female character working in a male dominated culture that is tough enough to get the job done but doesn’t simply become a man with a woman’s name*. Contrast that with David Baldacci’s Atlee Pine character.
If you haven’t read any of Connelly’s books before then it’s possible to start here as it’s a completely different storyline from anything else he’s written although there does seem to be some crossover in later books.
I don’t want to spoil the story so I won’t give much detail and to be honest I don’t really know how to add to the summary above. Simply put Ballard is a brilliantly constructed character and Connelly’s writing is so good that I struggled to put this one down and read it through in just a couple of days.
*so difficult to write that without sounding patronising and sexist!
For maverick LAPD homicide detective Harry Bosch, the body in the drainpipe at Mulholland Dam is more than another anonymous statistic. This one is personal…because the murdered man was a fellow Vietnam “tunnel rat” who had fought side by side with him in a hellish underground war. Now Bosch is about to relive the horror of Nam. From a dangerous maze of blind alleys to a daring criminal heist beneath the city, his survival instincts will once again be tested to their limit. Pitted against enemies inside his own department and forced to make the agonizing choice between justice and vengeance, Bosch goes on the hunt for a killer whose true face will shock him.
My Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐
Yet another series of books that I’ve decided to read a second time. I’ve recently finished watching the TV series and it has given me the appetite to go back and enjoy the original character and stories. The TV show is very good but the books are fantastic. However, there’s now an added dimension to the books, the character I had imagined in my head has now been replaced by the onscreen actor. Thankfully it fits.
Harry Bosch is a great character. His drive to do the right thing makes for great reading. He’s not afraid to do what needs done and that includes putting himself in the firing line. The stories are pretty grim, there’s a definite dark side and not much happy stuff. However, it’s gritty and realistic rather than depressing.
With the books now being quite old (this one was published in 1992) I really enjoy the much less technological setting and the need for so much grind in the investigation process. There’s no Google, no GPS/mobile phone tracking and forensics is much more basic. Catching the killer involves traditional police work and it’s a great read.