The Late Show (Renée Ballard, #1; Harry Bosch Universe, #29)The Late Show by Michael Connelly
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I don’t know why it took me so long to get around to this renowned author. This book rocked!

It’s true to say Michael Connelly is a master at this kind of crime fiction. He paints such vivid pictures with words that I truly felt part of the action. As a writer, he certainly knows how to reach the reader’s emotions. His writing skills encompass all it takes to make a thoroughly satisfying crime fiction book.

The characters are believable; the plot flows easily and credibly; the procedures are described accurately as far as I can tell plus he is a master of the small detail. He writes about something that at the time seems insignificant but we later learn it is the key to solving the entire mystery and reveals the identity of the shooter. Brilliant!

This author also sure knows how to write a fight scene. The “confrontation” between the protagonist Detective Renee Ballard and the used car salesman is written so tightly and packed with such details of the realistic mechanics of a fight, it had me on the edge of my reading armchair.

The main story line concerns a multiple shooting in a Hollywood nightclub. Five people are dead, three of whom are customers and appear to be bad guys. That’s where the main investigation starts – who are these bad guys and how are they connected? Ballard becomes involved in this major investigation by chance as she is already at the Hollywood Presbyterian Hospital attending to the case of a transgender who has been brutally attacked. A waitress from the nightclub is brought in to the ER department but is DOA. Ballard does what she can with that victim from a procedural point of view and passes on the information to the squad dealing with the club shooting.

That squad is headed up by her nemesis Lt. Olivas. There is history between them in that Ballard filed an unsuccessful harassment claim against him resulting in her leaving that prestigious squad and being relegated to the “late show.” That’s the night shift where detectives “catch” the crime but pass it on to the day shift or a relevant squad. Detective Chastain is also part of the squad investigating the club shootings and he was a former detective partner of Ballard’s who failed to support her in her complaint regarding her former boss, Olivas.

The whole backstory of her treatment by the Department, and Olivas in particular, is fundamental to the plot and adds yet another layer of intrigue to a fascinating story.

There are other backstories weaved so brilliantly into the main plot and all interesting in their own right. As is Ballard’s own backstory.

I look forward to reading more of Renee Ballard – a formidable but likable woman, and a talented detective to boot!

I review this book from a part perspective of having 14 years detective experience albeit on the ‘other side of the Pond.’

So much of this author’s writing resonates with me. At times I was transported back ‘to the day.’ I enjoyed the part where the psychiatrist is interviewing Ballard about her fitness to return to duty. The shrink goes into soliloquy mode about “the darkness” surrounding crime and the need to find an escape mechanism from it. So true!

Real crime is a very dark place. I’m pleased that crime fiction of this quality can give so much enjoyment.

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