We’ve seen it before with Mickey Haller, who was first introduced in his own novel and then, after a few more books of his own, eventually teamed up with Bosch. So when Michael Connelly introduced readers to Renee Ballard in last year’s The Late Show, it seemed inevitable that she would eventually cross paths with Harry Bosch, though fans might not have expected their worlds to collide quite this soon.
Early on, it’s obvious that Connelly put the detectives together for a reason. They have undeniable chemistry. Though they’re far apart in age–Ballard’s the smart, young detective and Bosch is the seasoned veteran who’s seen it all–the two have a lot in common, most notably their desire for justice. Neither is the type to leave a case behind when their shift is done, which, in some ways, is exactly how they cross paths.
After returning back from a scene containing a bloated, ripe, decomposing body on Hollywood Boulevard, Ballard, who is still working the late show (a shift she was assigned t0 after filing complaints against her former superior for making unwanted sexual advances, only to see them shot down when her then-partner refused to back up her story even though he knew it was true), begins writing up her report when she hears the familiar sound of metal clanking coming from somewhere in the detective bureau. Realizing that someone is opening and closing filing cabinets, she confronts the man, who turns out to be Bosch, though he leaves before she can question what he was doing.
Following the strange encounter, Ballard flips through the file Bosch was looking at in an effort to figure out what he was up to. The file, it turns out, is a cold case detailing the still unsolved murder of a fifteen-year-old girl named Daisy Clayton. Ballard realized that the case was most recently assigned to Lucia Soto, Harry’s former partner, who is now working with the Hollywood Sexual Task Force.
With a link between Bosch and the case established, Ballard, who is empathetic towards the young girl’s story, begins poking around and asking questions of her own.
Meanwhile, Bosch, who is still working cold cases as a reserve officer for the San Fernando Police Department, is looking into the death of Cristobal Vega, a fifty-two-year-old “shot-caller” for Varrio San Fer 13, who’d taken on a Godfather-like presence in San Fernando before someone put a bullet in his head while he was out walking his dog. Staying true to his “everybody matters or nobody matters” motto, Bosch digs into the case with the same intensity and open-minded approach he’s displayed over the course of thirty books. But in his downtime, Harry continues looking into the Daisy Clayton case, and it doesn’t take long for him and Ballard to cross paths again.
Though their first encounter nearly resulted in Ballard pulling her Glock, she and Bosch eventually agree to team up, pursuing justice for Daisy Clayton as they search for a killer on the loose. At the same time, though, Harry’s other case catches the attention of Varrio San Fer 13, the vicious Mexican street gang, who doesn’t like where Bosch’s investigation is leading him . . . setting up the most dangerous pursuit of his storied career.
While Bosch is still the main draw, Ballard is gaining on him fast. Through two novels now, Connelly has developed her brilliantly, fleshing out her background and motives and molding her into a bona fide new star of the genre. Like Bosch, she has an intensity about her and has rubbed plenty of people the wrong way, but her never-quit, follow-a-case-no-matter-where-it-leads attitude is something Bosch has embodied for three decades. In fact, Ballard does, in some ways, feel like she represents the next generation of LAPD detectives, adjusting to digital murder books and an ever-changing police department. That said, she’s not Bosch 2.0–Renee has her own quirks and she proves early on that she’s able to hold her own with Harry.
Bosch, who now is pushing seventy, still has an undeniable presence on the page and seems to only get better with age. Several books back, Connelly began intertwining plotlines, a trend that’s added freshness to the series, and something he continues here. Both Bosch and Ballard are given plenty of screen time (the story is told through shifting POVs), and longtime fans will recognize a number of recurring characters who pop up throughout as Connelly unitizes his expanding universe, including a couple cameos from old favorites that fans of the Amazon-produced television show Bosch (starring Titus Welliver) will recognize.
Michael Connelly does it again. Just when you think you know where the story’s going, Connelly shakes things up in a big way, ramping up the suspense before delivering one of his most shocking endings yet. . . Dark Sacred Night is another must-read thriller from one of the greatest crime writers of our time.
Author: Michael Connelly
Series: Ballard & Bosch #1
Pages: 448 (Hardcover)
Publisher: Little, Brown and Company
Release Date: October 30, 2018
Book Spy Rating: 9.0 /10
Praised as “one of today’s finest book reviewers” by New York Times bestselling author Gayle Lynds, Ryan Steck (“The Godfather of the thriller genre” — Ben Coes) has “quickly established himself as the authority on mysteries and thrillers” (Author A.J. Tata). He currently lives in Southwest Michigan with his wife and their six children.