So I really enjoyed this new character created by Michael Connelly. Renee Ballard is a LAPD detective who has been bounced to "The Late Show" i.e. the night shift that means she no longer gets to work hot cases. We find out that when Renee filed a sexual harassment case against her supervisor, her ex partner failed to back her up, which caused her to get booted to the late show. When Renee starts working two cases that brings her back into the periphery of her ex-supervisor and ex-partner, Renee finds out that she doesn't want to just be pushed out and ignored anymore. In the current climate that is going on (women coming forward with sexual harassment complaints) Connelly could not have written a more topical novel. I really loved the character of Renee. She obviously has a lot of issues, but she is smart and refuses to back down. I can see her going down as a fan favorite just like Harry Bosch.
When Renee catches the first of the two cases we follow in this book, we get to see her not just going by the numbers like her current partner Jenkins is doing. Getting to investigate who left a prostitute near death, has Renee wanting to catch "the big evil" that she thinks the perpetrator has to be. When Renee and Jenkins are called to another crime scene at a nightclub that left several people dead, she runs into her ex-partner Chastain and her former supervisor Olivas.
The characters in this one really do come alive. I liked Renee a lot. You definitely get that she's smart. And I liked that something in her would not just allow her to write off an attack on a prostitute. With her going back to figure out what happened to the victim and doing the groundwork needed to figure out who the perpetrator was interesting. And I am glad that Renee got to redeem herself in this book though she really didn't need to be redeemed. It sucks her career got derailed because she refused to have sex with her supervisor. I can see that Olivas is going to be set up to be a thorn in her side (unless Connelly kills his terrible ass) for at least one more book.
Renee's partner Jenkins is just sticking around til retirement trying to take care of his sick wife. Unlike with Bosch though, Renee truly seems to value his partnership and even though Chastain betrayed her, she still knows the ins and outs of him long after their partnership is over. I always felt like Bosch was just a lone wolf who didn't need anyway. I liked Ballard having to bring in people with what she was doing through both cases.
Renee's grandmother was barely in this book, hope we see more of her in the future.
The writing was really good. It took a bit though for me to get a handle on Ballard. I honestly didn't know if I even liked her at first. She seemed to be pretty hard and when you read about what all happened to her (losing her father, not having her mother around, dealing with her partner betraying her) I can see why she was so prickly. I don't know if I would be done with just sleeping on a beach most nights though.
I really did love how this book calls back to a few things from the Bosch series. Many long time readers should realize who Chastain is, his father appeared in several of the Bosch books, "The Black Ice", "Trunk Music" and "Angels Flight." We also have references to Bosch himself and a series based on his life. That part cracked me up though. Can you imagine Bosch wanting to be part of a tv series?
The ending left things with Ballard at a crossroads of sorts. I am curious what she is going to do, stick with "The Late Show" or finally be called back up to Homicide. I do hope that she runs into other characters from the Bosch universe.