5 stars out of 5
New character and series? Base hit. By a favorite author? Double play. Getting a copy from the publisher to read in exchange for an honest review? Bases loaded.
The new character is Renee Ballard, a relatively young and feisty detective with the Los Angeles Police Department. The author is Michael Connelly, well known and much loved by me for his Harry Bosch and Lincoln Lawyer (Mickey Haller) series. And my honest opinion? A home run!
Also in all honesty, though, neither Harry nor Mickey need worry; this mama still loves them best. But when someone new comes along that's worthy of note, there's plenty of room left on my virtual bookshelves. And that means the next time Renee Ballard makes an appearance, I'll be there to greet her.
A native of Hawaii with a journalism degree from the University of Hawaii, Ballard spends part of her free time riding the California surf with her faithful dog Lola. She's also fighting a few demons from the past, including the untimely death of her beloved father in a water-related accident and the fact that her long-time day shift partner failed to support her in her sexual harassment claim against her supervisor. As a result of that unsuccessful complaint, she's been relegated to the night shift - a.k.a. the Late Show. Now, she and her new partner, John Jenkins, are charged with investigating crimes that happen in the wee hours, but they must turn all their findings over to an appropriate "desk" rather than follow up on their own.
It's not always easy to let go of cases that come her way, but she manages - until, that is, she doesn't. On a single night, she lands in the middle of two: The first is the brutal beating of a prostitute who ends up close to death in an induced coma at the hospital. The second involves the murder of several patrons and a female employee at a local nightclub. She pleads her case for continuance on both cases, winning the right to follow up on the prostitute's. On the murders, though, everyone from the top down, including her partner, insists that she back off - but she's not having any of it. Bringing her extensive investigative skills and instincts to bear, she deals the beating incident during work hours. Then, using off hours and spare time, she delves into the nightclub murders with equal gusto - and lands smack dab in the middle of a close-to-home "hit" and a complex case that not only threatens her own future, but that of the entire department.
Now, of course, I'm looking forward to Ballard's next assignment. Bring her on!
The Late Show by Michael Connelly (Little, Brown and Co., July 2017); 544 pp.