The Late Show, by Michael Connelly. Little, Brown. 416 pages. Hardcover $28.00.
Several years ago, I fell in love with Randy Wayne White’s new Hannah Smith series. The Hannah Smith character provided a fresh focus for Mr. White’s considerable skills, while the Doc Ford series continued to satisfy his devoted following. Now we have Mr. Connelly, masterful creator of both the Harry Bosch and Mickey Haller (Lincoln Lawyer) series, launching a new venture centered on a distinctive and totally engaging female character. Detective Renée Ballard is a winner. I swooned over Hannah, and now I’ve fallen for Renée as well.
Mr. Connelly mastery of the police procedural, honed throughout the Bosch series, is put to good use here. Ballard is a credible mixture of impulse and orderliness, and the latter trait usually allows her to follow the steps – regulations and protocols – that underpin effective police work.
The night shift, which Ballard works, is in her punishment for her run-in with a superior wishing to send her a signal. Filing a sexual harassment complaint against Lieutenant Olivas pushed her career into this dark place. Called “The Late Show,” this shift runs through the dark hours. Ballard is often the first to begin an investigation, but come daylight she must turn it over to another detective. This routine provides little satisfaction, and Ballard needs a way out.
She finds it, in part, by following up on these cases using her own time. She takes two cases to heart and can’t let go of them. One involves a prostitute almost beaten to death and the other a young woman shot in a nightclub. Her partner, Jenkins, is a rather passive individual – a competent officer who warns Ballard against pushing too hard and taking too many chances.
When a case leads to the death of Ballard’s former partner, a man she was close to and yet who hadn’t stood up for her following her abusive treatment by Olivas, Ballard is – curiously – all in, though warned away on several occasions.
On her various cases, Ballard drives herself to exhaustion. She takes every step with deliberateness and professionalism, and yet all her actions are informed by her essential nature – the interplay of step-by-step investigatory process and her seeming obligation to taking risks. Though she struggles to avoid being seen as a loser or a victim, victimhood is what her behavior often courts. . . .
To read the entire review, as it appears in the July 26, 2017 Fort Myers Florida Weekly and the July 27 Naples and Punta Gorda / Port Charlotte editions, click here: Florida Weekly – The Late Show