Michael Connelly’s latest novel is about an LAPD detective who is at war with the department’s administration and has suffered serious repercussions, but is utterly dedicated to the work. This detective has no use for “the system” and uses inventive methods to get results, often disregarding orders from superiors and taking career-threatening risks. This person lives for the job, and is frustrated by being partnered with another detective who lacks their level of commitment. This character identifies strongly with crime victims, but is socially isolated, and was abandoned by one parent while the other died while the detective was very young.
So why am I describing Harry Bosch? I don’t know, because this character’s name is Renee Ballard. Other than the above transplanted characteristics, we don’t get to know her too well as she solves a couple of not-very-interesting crimes. One of them involves the beating of a transgender prostitute. I kept wondering if this was supposed to be some kind of inside joke.
I realize that even with an extraordinarily gifted writer, every book can’t be a home run. But at times I wondered if Michael Connelly even wrote this book himself.
It was Michael Connelly who wrote the following passage. It is from “The Concrete Blonde,” published in 1994, and describes Harry Bosch’s train of thought after he has watched a porn movie in order to identify the actress in it as a murder victim. “. . . he tried to imagine that life. He wondered what hope she might still have had and still nurtured and protected like a candle in the rain, even as she lay there on her back with distant eyes turned toward the stranger inside her. Hope must have been the only thing she had left. Bosch knew that hope was the lifeblood of the heart. Without it there was nothing, only darkness.”
This power of this writing brought tears to my eyes when I first read it many years ago. It’s hard to believe that the same person wrote “The Late Show.” If this is really his work he is suffering from serious burnout or just doesn’t care any more. If he is going to write more books about Renee Ballard, I hope he will stop cannibalizing Harry Bosch and turn Renee Ballard into a unique and believable character.