Books & Literature

Book Review: The Dark Hours, by Michael Connelly

THRILLER: LAPD Detective Renee Ballard and Harry Bosch team up to find justice in this new thriller from No. 1 bestselling author Michael Connelly.

A novel that is both timely and timeless, taking the Ballard/Bosch characters and their relationship to a whole new level of satisfying.

In 1992, Michael Connelly’s first novel The Black Echo hit bookshelves around the world. So began an international love affair for crime novel buffs with then Detective Hieronymus ‘Harry’ Bosch, since retired. Over the next three decades, we would be introduced to numerous other characters who would ultimately intersect with Harry, including Mickey Haller (Harry’s half-brother from The Lincoln Lawyer) and Detective Renée Ballard.

Following the release of the first Renée Ballard novel, The Late Show, and its climatic meeting between Bosch and Ballard, we have been treated to three ‘Ballard & Bosch’ thrillers: Dark Sacred Night, The Night Fire, and now, The Dark Hours. As the titles suggest, Ballard works the late shift and investigates crimes that occur within those darkened hours.

When we were first introduced to Renée Ballard, she was living a transient lifestyle, sleeping on the beach and showering at a relative’s home, to give her the complete freedom she experienced working the late shift. Now, with the impact of COVID-19 and owing to a financial windfall, she is living indoors. Whilst working the New Year’s Eve shift, she is alerted to a shooting murder and eventually discovers it links to a cold case of Harry Bosch’s. This discovery leads her to reconnect with Harry, who is on the out with the LAPD following his most recent interaction with Mickey Haller, covered off on in The Law of Innocence.

The Dark Hours, like most novels that are emerging in the current COVID-19 world in which we live, references the pandemic, alongside the current attitudinal morale of the LAPD, in a post-Black Lives Matter environment. Whilst these are emotionally pivotal to the storyline, they do not overshadow the criminal core: the New Year’s Eve murder, hidden within a gunfire-laden celebration and the pair of serial rapists known internally as ‘The Midnight Men’.

As the two delve deeper into the cold case, Ballard begins to open up to Harry about The Midnight Men case and the way in which it, alongside most other LAPD cases, is being managed rather than directly handled. Ballard begins to see the Department in a truly similar vein to that which led to Harry’s decision to pursue justice as a Private Investigator. As Harry provides case support, he also challenges Ballard’s beliefs about the job and her place within the LAPD.

A key aspect of Connelly’s novels that keeps readers returning is found in the reality of his characters. Bosch is an amalgam of detectives he has known, while Ballard is drawn from a single individual. Harry Bosch has also aged with each appearance; he is now 71 and living with the physical impact of a previous case. Unlike many of his contemporaries, for whom time rolls on around them, Harry’s days are fraught and filled with frailty.

Michael Connelly’s The Dark Hours delivers, as he always does, climaxing with what promises to be a whole new direction for both Ballard & Bosch.

Reviewed by Glen Christie

Distributed by: Allen & Unwin
Released: November 2021
RRP: $32.99

This review is the opinion of the reviewer and not Glam Adelaide.

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