Rejoice. Michael Connelly has brought out a new Harry Bosch novel. Except Harry’s getting long in the tooth (apparently he’s grown his mustache back too. I’m pretty sure he shaved it off a few years back), and is not technically an LAPD detective at all anymore. So in Dark Sacred Night he teams up with Connelly’s new detective character – surfer chick-detective Renee Ballard, heroine of The Late Show.
Renee is the victim of sexism in the department, and has been exiled to the “the late show,” the night shift. Surprisingly, she’s found she kind of likes that shift. She’s surprised when she sees an older cop rummaging in a filing cabinet one night. She learns that it’s Harry Bosch, who’s investigating a cold case – the murder of an underage prostitute, Daisy Clayton. Harry knows Daisy’s mother, who is a drug addict and recently cleaned herself up. She’s living with Harry right now, and he promised her he’d try to find the killer. When Renee learns about it, she wants in, and Harry and she find they work pretty well together. They’ll need that synergy when the case gets dangerous, and the brass interfere.
Not the best of a long series, Dark Sacred Night is a satisfying but somewhat downbeat visit with an old friend, professionally delivered. Recommended with the usual cautions.
“Look, I’m sorry. But I wanted to catch these guys. What that kid did, the son, it was noble. When this all comes out, people will probably say he was stupid and naïve and didn’t know what he was doing. But they won’t know the truth. He was being noble. And there isn’t a lot of that out there in the world anymore….”
It’s amazing how Michael Connelly manages to keep the stakes high in his long series of Harry Bosch detective novels. At the beginning of Two Kinds of Truth I was thinking that the formula was getting a little old, but before long I was fully invested. Harry Bosch is a driven character, a man with a near-Christian sense of vocation, and you can’t help starting to care as much as he does.
Harry used to be a police detective in Los Angeles, but he’s past retirement, and now he works on a semi-volunteer basis for the police department in San Fernando, a small, autonomous enclave within greater LA. His official task is cold cases, which he loves, but because he’s the most experienced detective available, he ends up working current cases as well. Continue reading ‘Two Kinds of Truth,’ by Michael Connelly
Michael Connelly introduces a new detective character in his latest novel, The Late Show.
He’s obviously studied his market, because he delivers the precise kind of detective readers want today – a feisty, alienated woman cop.
Renee Ballard works “The Late Show,” police slang for the 11:00 to 7:00 shift, in Hollywood. She’s there because she had a personal conflict with a former superior. The Late Show is where cops are sent when nobody wants them. Late Show cops don’t even get to work cases to the end – they have to hand them off to day shift detectives in the morning.
One night Renee is called to the scene of the brutal beating of a transsexual prostitute. Then there’s a multiple shooting at a night club. Renee follows up certain clues relating to one of the victims, a waitress, even though it’s somebody else’s case by then. This sets her on a road that will lead her into tremendous personal danger, and to corruption in high places.
As you’ve probably guessed if you’ve been reading me a while, I’m not enthralled with Renee Ballard. It’s doubtless my misogyny (I don’t like women sent into danger, which makes me evil, of course), but I don’t approve of woman cops. And this woman has issues. She’s not a team player, and she consciously steps on other officers’ investigations. If I were her commander, I’d demote her too.
But The Late Show is a good novel by one of the best writers in the crime fiction genre. I recommend it on its own merits, with cautions for language, violence, and sexual situations.
I’m pretty sure I reviewed Bosch, the Amazon Prime Video series based on Michael Connelly’s Harry Bosch mystery novels, earlier on this blog. Still it’s been a while, and I just finished the new third season, so I’ll praise it again. Because it is quite good.
Harry (Hieronymus) Bosch is a Los Angeles homicide detective. He’s a military veteran and has a high case clearance rate, though he can be a pain in the anatomy to his co-workers and superiors. He’s almost obsessively by the book in his work ethic, but he can cut moral corners when he feels it’s justified. He is in fact motivated by inner demons, but he keeps them buttoned up.
In this third season, the first major plot line involves a reprehensible Hollywood producer (that’s an oxymoron, I suppose), who had a lowlife acquaintance murdered because he knew too much about a previous murder he’d committed (this is complicated by the fact that Bosch has been pursuing the guy himself over another matter, and has the murder on film, which he can’t use because his surveillance is illegal). The second big plot line centers on a group of former Army Special Forces guys who pull off a big theft and aren’t shy about killing people along the way. Their combat skills make them formidable adversaries for Bosch – and eventually for each other. Continue reading Amazon Prime Video Review: ‘Bosch,’ Season 3
I’ve been watching the third season of Bosch on Amazon Prime Video. In one episode, I noticed a detail that intrigued me.
Harry Bosch (Titus Welliver) lives in a house partly supported by stilts, on a hillside in the Hollywood Hills, just as in the books. In one shot I noticed a framed poster on a wall.
It was a poster for a movie or a novel (I couldn’t tell) called The Black Echo.
The Black Echo is one of the novels this season of the show is based on.
So even if you imagined that a book had been written or a movie made about Bosch’s adventures (such a made-for-TV movie is in fact a plot element), and called The Black Echo, there’s no way either one could have been done about an adventure that isn’t even over yet.
The poster is a wink at the viewer from the production team. A very subtle breaking of the proscenium.
I expect that sort of thing happens more in movies and TV than I’m aware of.
Michael Connelly’s Harry Bosch cop novels are a long-running series. They’re bestsellers for good reason. Connelly writes tight, well-crafted novels with engaging characters. The Wrong Side of Goodbye is a sterling entry in a saga that shows no sign of flagging.
Aging detective Harry Bosch is no longer with the Los Angeles Police Department. He was terminated at the end of the last book (he’s suing them for it). But he’s got a private investigator’s license. He’s also working part-time, on a volunteer basis, for the financially strapped police department of the suburb of San Fernando.
For the San Fernando job, he’s working on a series of rapes by a creep who cuts through screen windows in women’s homes. A recent victim got away from him, coming away with fresh clues Harry and the other detectives can use to get closer to a solution. Their main handicap is simply lack of manpower, something that will put a member of the team in genuine peril.
Meanwhile, in a scene right out of Raymond Chandler, Harry (wearing his private eye hat) is called to the home of a steel and aeronautics magnate. The old man is dying, and he knows it. He has no heir. But long ago he fathered a child with a Mexican girlfriend. He wants Harry to find out if his child is alive – if he or she is, they’re in a position to inherit billions.
It’s a pleasure to follow Harry as he does his job. Connelly is especially good at layered characters – people who turn out to be more (or less) than they appear on first glance. There are lots of surprises here, and a plot that snaps together cleanly in the end.
Author Connelly’s politics would appear to be liberal, but his views on various issues are incorporated seamlessly into the story, without hammering the points home (though Harry seems to have had more lesbian partners than statistically likely). But if I disagreed with some passing political riffs, I appreciated the respect with which Vietnam veterans were treated.
Highly recommended. Cautions for language and adult themes.