The Dark Hours by Michael Connelly

The Dark Hours (Renee Ballard 4, Harry Bosch 23)
Author: Michael Connolly
Published: November 2021
Publisher: Allen and Unwin
Readership: Adult
Genre: Fiction (Crime)
Rating: ★★★★
RRP: $32.99

I received a copy of The Dark Hours from the publisher in exchange for a fair and honest review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

LAPD Detective Renee Ballard and Harry Bosch team up to find justice in this new thriller from #1 bestselling author Michael Connelly.

There’s chaos in Hollywood on New Year’s Eve. At the end of the countdown, LAPD Detective Renee Ballard seeks shelter from the traditional rain of lead as hundreds of revellers shoot their guns into the air. Minutes later, Ballard is called to a scene where a hardworking auto shop owner has been fatally hit by a bullet in the middle of a crowded street party. Ballard swiftly concludes that the deadly bullet could not have fallen from the sky and connects it with another unsolved murder – a case at one time worked by Detective Harry Bosch. Meanwhile, Ballard still hunts a fiendish pair of serial rapists, the Midnight Men, who have been terrorising women and leaving no trace.

Finding herself up against deadly inertia and foundering morale in a police department ravaged by the pandemic and recent riots, Ballard must look outside to the one detective she can count on: Harry Bosch. But as the two determined detectives join forces, they cannot relax their guard. The brutal predators they track won’t hesitate to kill to keep their secrets hidden.

Many years ago I was an avid procedural crime-mystery reader, and over the years I dip back into it and while it’s not my go-to anymore, it’s definitely still a genre that – when I’m in the mood for it – is something that I really appreciate. The Renee Ballard/Harry Bosch team up books that Michael Connelly has been releasing in recent years have been some of the books in the genre that I genuinely look forward to reading. They’re such contrasting characters working towards solving crimes together that I always enjoy my time with them.

In the most recent instalment, The Dark Hours, Renee Ballard is still trying to fight the good fight in a police department that, at best, seems apathetic to the city its meant to be serving after the riots and pandemic of 2020. Still assigned to the late show, or the midnight shift, as its only detective, Ballard is often pulled in different directions – only to have to hand over her work to the day shift detectives who often take the credit. But when one of her midnight cases coincides with a cold case Harry Bosch worked on years earlier, the two begin to work together to solve both cases. This is on top of her caseload investigating a duo of rapists terrorising LA.

I thought that the callouts to the events of 2020 and 2021 would be jarring, and to some extent they could be if you’re not expecting it, but they do centre the story in the present day. Ballard is an every day person trying to make a difference in a system that is failing rapidly and she’s more than aware of that – so much so that it does impact on decisions she makes in the third part of the book. 

Ballard remains a practical, non-nonsense character who’s got her own battles to deal with, but despite her sometimes jaded outlook, her relationship with Bosch continues strong. The two have a mentor/mentee relationship that’s continued to grow into the category of colleagues and friends and they have mutual respect for the other – even if they don’t always see eye-to-eye.

Both of the major cases Ballard investigates – the death of former gang member during a New Year’s Eve celebration and the case of a team of rapists targeting women in LA – are gripping and make you turn each page hoping to uncover the next clue.  You’ve got everything from gangs, shady organisations, the Dark Web and more to sink your teeth into, and I couldn’t put it down.

The end of the book leaves a lot of things up in the air for Ballard and I’m looking forward to seeing where Michael Connelly takes her character next.

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