Title // The Late Show (Renee Ballard #1)
Author // Michael Connelly
Publication Date // July 12, 2017
Publisher // Allen and Unwin
Genre // Crime, Mystery
Price // AUD $32.99
Rating // ✭✭✭✭
A pulse-pounding thriller, introducing a driven, young detective trying to prove herself in the LAPD.
Includes an extract of Two Kinds of Truth, the new Harry Bosch novel to be published in November 2017.
‘Excellent series launch … What follows is classic Connelly: a master class of LAPD internal politics and culture, good old-fashioned detective work, and state-of-the-art forensic science – plus a protagonist who’s smart, relentless, and reflective … once again, he delivers.’ – starred review in Publishers Weekly
Los Angeles can be a dangerous city – never more so than in the dead of night.
Renee Ballard works the night shift at the LAPD in Hollywood, beginning many investigations but finishing none as each morning she turns her cases over to day shift detectives. A once up-and-coming detective, she’s been given this beat as punishment after filing a sexual harassment complaint against a supervisor.
But one night she catches two cases she doesn’t want to part with: the brutal beating of a prostitute left for dead in a parking lot and the killing of a young woman in a nightclub shooting. Ballard is determined not to give up at dawn. Against orders and her own partner’s wishes, she works both cases by day while maintaining her shift by night.
As the cases entwine, they pull her closer to her own demons and the reason she won’t give up her job – no matter what the department throws at her.
The Late Show is the first in a new series of crime-thriller books, featuring female Detective Renee Ballard.
Renee Ballard works The Late Show with her partner, Jenkins – the night shift in the Hollywood division of the LAPD. It’s the shift where most cops are sent when they’ve caused waves that the department wants to go away, which, in Ballard’s case, was a sexual harassment claim against a senior officer. Each morning, Ballard and Jenkin’s hand over their cases from the night to the day shift, but on this particular night, two cases fall into her lap and Ballard doesn’t want to give them up – she wants to see them through.
This initiates the reader in Ballard’s personality – she’s tough, determined and thorough, even when told to back down. Following the case of the horrific beating of a prostitute and a mass-shooting in a nightclub, Ballard goes against orders to follow the leads she finds through to conclusion, even though it puts her at risk – both physically and for her career.
Connelly has written a female detective who is tough in a world that would see her put down, who knows how to navigate the world she lives in by defining it by her own rules. While at times Ballard comes across as aggressive or even off-putting, it doesn’t hinder the strength of her character, or even her likableness – she’s determined to close these cases because she wants to see the victims given justice. Her relationships with those closest to her – her partner, her some-time lovers, her grandmother, her dog – are all very different, depending on how much she lets them in and it makes for a very well-rounded character.
While the narrative does seem to have been written by formula – with a lot of set-up initially to place Ballard within the world she inhabits – once the crimes are established, the novel picks up the pace weaving in clues and misdirection, until it’s reaches it’s conclusion, at which point I was surprised by who was revealed to be behind it all.
Overall I gave The Late Show 4 out of 5 stars – a solid crime-mystery and a great start to the Renee Ballard series. I look forward to future books featuring this strong female detective.
(Thank you to Allen and Unwin for sending me a copy of this book for review. All thoughts and opinions are my own!)