Featured Review: ‘The Dark Hours’ by Michael Connelly


#1 New York Times bestselling author Michael Connelly brings back his new hero, LAPD Detective Renee Ballard, and longtime protagionist former detective, Harry Bosh—once again teaming them up as the duo takes on two cases that’ll keep readers reading well into the night. 

It’s called “the rain of lead,” and has become a New Year’s Eve tradition in Las Angelas. Just before midnight, partiers take to the streets and ring in the new year by firing their guns into the air. It’s all harmless until it’s not, and for LAPD detective Renée Ballard, the new year starts off with a case involving an auto shop owner named Javier Raffa who was hit with a stray bullet in the middle of the street. Still working the graveyard shift (following 2019’s The Night Fire), Ballard gets the call and arrives at the scene expecting to find that Raffa—who throws a yearly shindig that draws plenty of Las Palmas gang members—was hit with a stray bullet. But after poking around, Ballard isn’t so sure the shooting was an accident at all. 

Digging in, Ballard connects a recovered bullet from Raffa’s case to an older case that was once worked by former LAPD detective Harry Bosch, with whom Ballard has a solid working and private relationship. Though retired, Bosch jumps back into the fold, working both the Raffa case while assisting in the search for the Midnight Men, a pair of rapists who’ve terrorized the public while leaving police nothing to work with. Toss in the fact that the LAPD has been radically affected by COVID, both with new policy changes and even staffing issues, and suddenly both Ballard and Bosch begin to feel overwhelmed.

With only each other to trust, the duo must work quickly to find the truth and stop an evil force before any more innocent people are harmed, and as always, Connelly weaves in a number of twists and turns to go with his signature nail-biting suspense.

Michael Connelly might be the only author on the planet who can touch on a number of timely, hot-button issues—including COVID, vaccines, defunding of law enforcement, police brutality, protests, mass homelessness within LA, and the events of January 6th that took place at the Capitol building, to name a few—without offending, angering, or losing a single reader, regardless of their personal political beliefs. His fact-based approach, rather than touching on his own opinions, will no doubt be a welcomed sight to readers who’ve been turned off by other writers who’ve taken to injecting their own views into their fictional stories. That, of course, is not to say that Connelly turns a blind eye to such topics. On the contrary, it’s evident that he has his finger on the pulse of all things Las Angeles, the difference is simply in his delivery.

Then again, avoiding the path most traveled and forging his own road has routinely been Connelly’s calling card throughout his brilliant career. Always one to zig when others zag, Connelly stays clear of obvious clichés, focusing instead on creative new ways to continue fleshing out his co-protagonists while giving them tougher cases to crack. In the end, he’s managed to churn out yet another page-turning, suspense-filled story that, while rooted in reality, should entertain a diverse body of readers.

Few writers have ever managed to grab and hold readers’ attention the way Michael Connelly has the last three decades, and The Dark Hours is yet another reminder that we’re witnessing one of the all-time greats . . . who’s shown absolutely no signs of slowing down anytime soon.

Book Details

Author: Michael Connelly
Pages: 400 (Hardcover)
ISBN: 0316485640
Series: Ballard & Bosch #4
Release Date: November 9, 2021
Real Book Spy Rating: 9.5/10


Praised as “One of the hardest working, most thoughtful, and fairest reviewers out there” by #1 New York Times bestselling author Lisa Scottoline, Ryan Steck has “quickly established himself as the authority on mysteries and thrillers” (Author A.J. Tata). Steck also works full-time as a freelance editor and pens a monthly thriller column for CrimeReads. Additionally, he co-hosts ThrillerTalk, a new podcast with K.J. Howe. For more information, be sure to follow him on Twitter and Facebook. He currently lives in Southwest Michigan with his wife and their six children.

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