Tag Archives: Michael Connelly

A new, shining star in the firmament of fictional female detectives

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.

Michael Connelly

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

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Connelly spins two tales that don’t touch but nevertheless grab

The Wrong Side of Goodbye by Michael Connelly. Little, Brown. 400 pages. Hardcover $29.00.

Harry Bosch, now an independent private investigator, also has a gig as a reserve officer in the San Fernando Police Department, a tiny outfit compared to the huge LAPD where Harry had worked for thirty years. It’s a part-time, volunteer job with little status, but the badge is real as is access to police databases. Though Harry knows that he shouldn’t use that access – or other government equipment – to further his private eye work, he’s having trouble drawing the line.  connelly_thewrongsideofgoodbyefinal

Especially since his two cases – one a local serial rapist case, the other a search for a billionaire’s heir – are pulling him in two directions in terms of his time, energy, and sense of responsibility.

Whitney Vance, the mogul, is a very withdrawn fellow. He is concerned about replacing his will just in case there is someone out there whom he fathered. He pays Harry a goodly sum to meet and discuss the assignment, which must be kept secret. Harry’s research uncovers a son, a young man who died during a tour of duty in Vietnam. But is he the lone heir? And how can evidence, DNA and otherwise, be secured that will hold up in court?

When Mr. Vance is found dead, the plot indeed thickens. There seems to be plenty of competition for influencing the dispensation of Vance’s wealth. There are threats. The vultures had been lining up as the tycoon’s age advanced and his health declined.

Harry connects with his half-brother, lawyer Mickey Haller, in a cooperative effort to cover the legal bases of a claim on behalf of an heir. Harry takes great pains to safeguard original documents prepared for the case, and he hides copies in various secure locations.

The Wrong Side of Goodbye

Michael Connelly

Just after Vance is found dead, Harry receives a “last will and testament” and other instructions in Vance’s shaky handwriting, along with a special pen that Harry had seen during his meeting with Vance. It seems Vance’s secretary had been charged with mailing this material in case of her boss’s death.

A death that is soon ruled a murder. Now what?

The other case, the Screen Cutter rapes, partners Harry with a lesbian officer, Bella Lourdes, at the San Fernando PD. Here, Harry painstakingly puts together the connecting links joining crimes first thought as isolated. He has been working cold case files, and his scrutiny has led to the discovery of important common denominators such as location and method of entrance.

The case becomes even more complicated with Detective Lourdes is sent to the Public Works Department to enlist the help of a former San Fernando officer named Dockweiler. When Lourdes disappears, others point out that she and Dockweiler have been on bad terms. One more mystery to solve – what happened to Lourdes . . . ?

To read the full review, as it appears in the December 14, 2016 Fort Myers Florida Weekly and the December 15 Naples and Punta Gorda/Port Charlotte editions, click here: Florida Weekly – The Wrong Side of Goodbye

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An aging, weary Harry Bosch still has what it takes

The Burning Room, by Michael Connelly. Little, Brown. 401 pages. Hardcover $28.00, trade paperback $16.00 (available March 17).

The Los Angeles Police Department has a special, somewhat prestigious Open-Unsolved Unit. Harry Bosch, one of the most skilled and experienced hands in the department, has been assigned to it. His new partner, Lucia (“Lucy”) Soto is a comparative newcomer. This kind of pairing is a new policy for the unit, but Lucy’s selection over far more experienced officers rubs many the wrong way. However, having Harry as a mentor is just what she needs. Connelly_THEBURNINGROOM

Lucy shares some of Harry’s old-school attitudes about police work, an attitude that bonds them, but she has a lot to learn.

Perhaps her youthful spark is just what Harry needs, too, as he recognizes that retirement, by choice or by regulation, is not far away.

The case: nine years before the present action, Orlando Merced, was shot. Over the years, the victim had suffered from many complications caused by that bullet lodged in his spine. Now that bullet has finally led to his death. So, it’s a fresh murder case without a fresh crime scene or corresponding evidence. The bullet, now removed from the corpse, is a beginning.

Investigating the shooting of the mariachi musician opens up a window on past crimes. Two of them happened on the same day, in the same neighborhood, within minutes of each other: the robbery of a check-cashing service called EZBank and a deadly fire in a low-end apartment building that housed an illegal day care business.

The day care fire, a decade earlier than the Merced shooting, has haunted Lucy. At the age of seven, she had lived there and escaped the tragedy. Her decision to become a police officer stems, in part, from this experience.

Connelly

Connelly

The arson case is also unsolved. Now, it is Lucy’s pet project, and she and Harry agree that they will split their working time between Lucy’s self-assigned case and the Merced case. They agree that the fire might have been set as a distraction to ensure the success of the simultaneous bank robbery.

The first major insight for the Merced investigation is the strong possibility that someone else was the intended victim – someone in the line of fire standing close to Orlando Merced. Once Harry and Lucy set out to identify and track down this individual, they find themselves involved in the swamp of bureaucracy and political corruption that is the hallmark of many Harry Bosch mysteries.

Getting too close to the truth about the past is likely to blow a hole in the present, especially in an election year – and especially when a former mayor now planning a race for the governorship is depending on money from a potentially compromised source. People who know too much might not live to share their knowledge. . . .

To read the entire review, as it appears in the March 4, 2015 Fort Myers Florida Weekly and the March 5 Naples, Bonita Springs, and Punta Gorda / Port Charlotte editions, click here: Florida Weekly – Burning Room.

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Cold case catches fire in latest Harry Bosch mystery

The Black Box, by Michael Connelly.  Little, Brown / Grand Central. 432 pages. Hardcover $27.99 / Paperback $14.99.

If you missed the November hardcover release of this latest title by the master of procedural detective fiction, the paperback is just now available. Mr. Connelly, who splits his time between California and Florida, challenges well-worn L. A. homicide Detective Harry Bosch with an intriguing cold case that had been abandoned some twenty years ago.  connelly_BlackBox_TP

During the 1992 Los Angeles riots that followed the police beatings of Rodney King, a younger version of Harry Bosch was assigned to that war zone. He came across the body of an attractive young Caucasian woman who had been shot close-up through the eye. Was she an intended victim or just someone in the wrong place as the wrong time? The immediate circumstances of the riots led the overworked LAPD to shelve the case. Now, in 2012, Harry and his partner, David Chu, have been assigned to look into it.

There isn’t much in the files or evidence locker to go by, not much more than a lone bullet casing from the scene. Yet something about the victim fires Harry’s sense of responsibility and his imagination. Progress is slow, and Harry’s superior – already on Harry’s case – urges him to wrap it up or reshelve it and pursue another cold case that has a better chance of being closed. A by-the-book, careerist bean-counter, Lt. O’Toole, is just the kind of guy Harry can’t stand – one who is more office manager than agent of justice. Naturally, Harry can’t hide his feelings.

Never could.

Michael Connelly

And though Harry makes some effort to hide his persistence with the “Snow White” investigation, O’Toole is watching him closely. Before long, Harry is facing charges regarding his professional behavior. An internal affairs detective begins checking accusations that Harry has misused his badge by making a personal visit to a prison inmate instead of carrying on official business.

The victim dubbed “Snow White” is Danish freelance newspaper reporter Anneke Jespersen. What was she doing in California in 1992 that brought her to the site of the L. A. riots? Contacting Anneke’s brother and drawing upon Chu’s computer search skills and database savvy, Harry hopes that the reporter’s trip to the First Gulf War theater shortly before her fateful visit to the U. S. might hold some clues.

And it does. Slowly, methodically, but also pushing the envelope of proper procedure, Harry connects her visits. He discovers how the first, which includes joining American servicemen for R & R on a Saudi ship, leads to the second. Then he discovers why the second leads to her Los Angeles death. . . .

To see the entire review, as it appears in the April 24, 2013 Fort Myers Florida Weekly and the May 2 Naples edition, click here Florida Weekly – Black Box 1 and here Florida Weekly – Black Box 2

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New “Lincoln Lawyer” thriller surprises and satisfies

“The Fifth Witness,” by Michael Connelly.  Little, Brown and Company.  448 pages. $27.99.

Hard times have hit the man known as “The Lincoln Lawyer.” Criminal cases have dried up for Mickey Haller, so to make ends meet he has plunged into the foreclosure defense business. There is no shortage of foreclosure action in Los Angeles, and Mr. Connelly’s exploration of this legal domain is timely, insightful, and dramatic. 

When Mickey hears that his first foreclosure client, Lisa Trammel, has been arrested for murder, he is not particularly surprised. In a way, he is pleased – criminal defense is his passion.

Lisa is a difficult client. Headstrong and intense, she has garnered a lot of publicity as an advocate for foreclosure victims. Lisa sees banks and mortgage companies as fraudulent enterprises conspiring to fleece innocent borrowers. She may be right. She is also an undisciplined force who regularly ignores Mickey’s advice.

The man Lisa is accused of killing, Mitchell Bondurant, was a senior official at WestLand Financial, the bank foreclosing on her loan. Already suspecting Lisa of having a bipolar disorder, Mickey now suspects she just might be guilty. Certainly the case against her is a strong one, though largely circumstantial. It is so strong that Mickey is at first considering a plea bargain. But Lisa insists on her innocence, and Mickey tries hard to believe in her.

As Mickey sets his team into motion, the reader enjoys Michael Connelly’s skill at building the colorful cast of characters that populate his hero’s world. There is his investigator, Cisco, ex-member of a biker gang. There is an ex-wife, Lorna, now managing the nonexistent office out of her home. There is Mickey’s driver, Rojas, a man who cannot be fully trusted. There is his new and idealistic associate, Jennifer Aronson, nicknamed “Bullocks” for the department store building that nowhouses the law school where she earned her degree.  Each is sharply individualized and each contributes to the investigation.

Michael Connelly

As the case builds, Mickey quickly sees the need for a real office and sets one up. The back seat of the Lincoln won’t do for what is becoming a high profile case. Indeed, he sees the murder case as potentially a financial windfall, what with his share of rights to any media projects that the trial can produce. However, he has competition. A Hollywood hustler named Herb Dahl has been romancing Lisa Trammel, promising her fame and fortune. She seems an easy mark, and Mickey takes pains to make her see Dahl’s true motives.

To enjoy the complete review as it appears in the May 11, 2011 issue of the Fort Myers Florida Weekly and in the May 12 Naples and Port Charlotte/Punta Gorda editions, click here: Connelly pdf – 1 and here: Connelly pdf – 2

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