The Dark Hours by Michael Connelly (a Bosch/Ballard mystery)
The Dark Hours by Michael Connelly
Genre: Police Procedural, Mystery
Published 2021, 400 pages
This is the 23rd novel featuring former detective Harry Bosch, though he plays second fiddle to Rene` Ballard in this one. I faithfully read the Bosch series for the first 10-12 books but have kind of skipped around since then. I picked this one up because it was available on audio and I needed a book for my commute. It was a good choice.
First Sentence: " It was supposed to rain for real and that would have put a damper on the annual rain of lead. But the forecast was wrong."
I haven't read Connelly in a few years and yet I didn't feel like there was character history I should have known to be able to enjoy this book. It functions pretty much as a standalone. Detective Ballard is working the night shift and working with sex crimes to catch a pair of rapists. While on a stakeout, a shooting occurs nearby and she catches that case as well so is pulled in a couple different directions. Technically she's not supposed to handle homicide, but once she's sure it was a murder, she can't let the case go. And, her partner on on the rape cases is doing a shoddy job, so Ballard feels obligated and determined to help those victims. She's BUSY! Since people in the LAPD are not forthcoming with help, she turns to Bosch (whom she's worked with before) and asks for a little assistance, which he gladly provides.
There's a lot going on in this story - the two cases with the various victims, witnesses, and suspects (did get the names mixed up a couple times!), and then there's the internal LAPD politics. She has run-ins with various co-workers and yet works around them to get the information she needs to further her cases. A headstrong, dedicated cop.
I particularly liked how the year is set by referencing the pandemic, wearing masks, and the defund the police movement. Ballard has noticed a distinct lack of interest or drive from other cops to actually work their cases. They feel like the public doesn't want them, doesn't like them, so why should they put themselves out. That seems like it could be the feeling of many cops in the last couple years. While the pandemic and its effects are not prominent in the story, the details are just present enough to set the right time and place.
This is a good police procedural as Ballard works to gather and put together evidence for both the murder and the rapes. Connelly makes Ballard a fully realized character with faults and wishes and ambition. The dialog doesn't fall into cop-like cliches, but feels very believable. There's the introduction of a possible new romance, and a new pet but neither derail the plot......just add a nice layer of detail. Two narrators make the listening especially enjoyable. I really recommend this story - even if you haven't read any previous Bosch stories.
***Note content warning: rape (though not specifically described)