I live in Bristol UK literary fiction and crime are my books of choice and when not reading I like to run
For fans of Harry Bosch it cannot have escaped your notice that our intrepid cop is of an age where he should be thinking of retirement (by my estimate he is mid to late 60's) The question that all fans of Michael Connelly are keen to ascertain is who will replace him? who can possibly step into the shoes of this irascible lovable wily old coyote? So with a little trepidation and much nervous excitement I felt compelled to read and yes judge The Late Show which introduces Detective Renee Ballard who works the night shift affectionately known as the late show. Working these unsociable hours is a punishment for a false accusation she supposedly made against her senior officer Lieutenant Olivas, namely a sexual advance.
She is investigating two cases; the attempted murder of Ramona Ramone a victim with gender id issues and a number of homicides at the Dancers night club. As always with crime stories of this type it is the politics of the job and in particular the role of a female detective within what many would judge as primarily a male environment. There is no better author than Michael Connelly to explore this issue and by doing so he not only creates a superlative story but gives the reader a real glimpse into the minds of those who patrol the dangerous streets of downtown LA. Ballard as you would expect is a ballsy operator originally from Hawaii where her father instilled into her a strong work ethic but more importantly taught her the skills and how to master working a paddle board. Whenever life and work becomes too hard and emotional she rides the waves at Venice beach always accompanied by her faithful dog Lola. Tragically her father died as a result of the sport he loved and her mum Makani abandoned her until a year later when her grandmother Tutu took custody of her. In this first novel, which is hopefully the start of a new series, Connelly expertly unfolds Renee Ballard before us introducing someone certainly equal to that old protagonist Harry Bosch.
Suffice to say the two investigations have a successful outcome and in the case of the Dances night club the author cunningly and expertly sends the reader in a totally false direction before revealing the real killer. No matter how good the plot the real test of a good book is if the author can create the smell, the feel and the emotion within the characters and their interaction with their environment (in this case LA)......."I'm talking about the darkness within. You have a job Detective, that takes you into the bleaker side of the human soul. To me it's like the laws of physics-for every action, there is an opposite and equal reaction. If you go into the 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 hallowing you out.".....
So could we possibly be seeing the birth of a great new female detective with lots of attitude? you betcha, move over HB, Renee Ballard is on the case. Highly Recommended