Detective Renée Ballard works the “late show”, the overnight shift, in Hollywood, California. It is considered a punishment shift, and it’s where she was moved after filing a complaint about Olivas, her boss in Homicide. He tried to kiss her at a party in front of her partner, but her partner wouldn’t back up her claim so Olivas got away with it and her partner got a promotion. Yes, workplace politics are alive and well on the Los Angeles police force.
Her partner on the late show is Jenkins, who has a sick wife at home and volunteered to work the shift so he could be home with his wife during the day. He has no interest in overtime, just wants to put in his time and go home. The night shift doesn’t usually handle cases, they just gather information and turn it over to the day shift detectives, but Ballard finagles her time management to keep the cases she wants – like the transgender prostitute that was beaten and tortured and left for dead, and an old lady’s stolen credit card. She gets a real thrill out of solving cases and is willing work her butt off to get the job done.
The big case at the center of the story is a shootout at a strip club. Four men are killed, as well as a waitress. When Ballard’s ex-partner is killed, she decides to do a little investigating on the side, as Olivas won’t allow her anywhere near his investigation. She soon figures out that the killer was probably a cop, which doesn’t play well with her brethren. All the storylines are tied up at the end, with one surprise after another.
This is the start of a new series for Connelly, and his first with a woman as the lead. Ballard is a terrific character, with enough backstory and trauma to make her really interesting, and enough guts and ingenuity to make her a terrific cop. The supporting cast is also well developed, and the multiple story lines are handled with Connelly’s usual finesse. And I loved the reference to the Amazon Prime series, Bosch – a nice Easter egg.
I was shocked to realize this book was over 400 pages, it was a very fast read for me. Connelly has a way of drawing me into his stories that make it almost impossible to put down the book. If you’re a Harry Bosch and/or Lincoln Lawyer fan, you will love this new one, too. This is an excellent series debut from the finest crime fiction writer out there. Don’t miss it.
7/17 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch™
THE LATE SHOW by Michael Connelly. Little, Brown and Company (July 18, 2017). ISBN 978-0316225984. 448p.