By David Steinberg

It is easy to see how 2017 is a landmark year for Michael Connelly, an award-winning writer of crime fiction.

Consider these literary events.

One. Earlier this summer the paperback edition of Connelly’s bestselling Harry Bosch novel “The Wrong Side of Goodbye” was released.

Two. The next novel featuring Bosch as the central character is “Two Kinds of Truth.” It is due out in cloth this October.

Three. About a week ago – on July 18 to be exact – Little, Brown published another masterful police procedural by Connelly. It’s titled “The Late Show.”

No Bosch in this book, however. Instead it heralds the debut of a new protagonist. Her name is Renée Ballard and she’s a Los Angeles police detective who works the graveyard shift, “the late show” in cop lingo.

A woman in a man’s world, Ballard’s risk-taking, candor and honesty make her as sympathetic as Bosch. And like him but in her own way, Ballard prefers to  operates as a lone wolf and is a dogged seeker of justice.

Ballard has a partner named Jenkins three days a week. They each fly solo two days a week. Jenkins sticks to the hours of his shift. He wants to be home when his wife, who has cancer, is awake.

Ballard’s doggedness surfaces from the first pages of the novel.

In the their initial case, Ballard and Jenkins interview a 77-year-old woman who lost her wallet and credit card in a home burglary. Ballard eventually tracks down the burglar who is an enterprising thief.

In the second chapter Ballard and Jenkins are diverted to investigate the assault of a male prostitute dressed as a woman. The cross-dresser is hospitalized after a severe beating. Again, it’s Ballard who goes after a menacing suspect and, in a thrilling turning point in the novel, Ballard finds herself in a kill-or-be-killed situation.

A third case, and the bloodiest of the three, also emerges in the second chapter and becomes the dominant storyline. Five people are shot to death in a nightclub. Three of the victims are in the same booth as the shooter. The other victims are the bouncer and a waitress.

Ballard is not officially on this case. But she’s asked to gather the belongings of the dead waitress, notify next of kin and pass along an impounded camera with images another club patron took during the violence. Ballard does her part. Still, she’s curious about who the shooter is, who the victims are and why a fellow cop is spending so many hours at the crime scene.

The novel incorporates issues of bad cops, sexist cops, and biased journalists; a newsman is too tight with an upper-level cop.

A hint of potential romance appears but Ballard isn’t ready. She’s still dealing with the internal politics of an overly aggressive colleague.

If you’re familiar with the Bosch series, “The Late Show” will make you a fan of Ballard and you’ll soon find yourself reading the earlier Bosch installments and maybe even the courtroom drama/crime novels featuring Bosch’s flamboyant half-brother, LA lawyer Mickey Haller.

Oh, there’s another relevant bit of information reinforcing 2017 as a landmark year for Connelly.  This spring marked the third season of the Amazon Studios’ TV series “Bosch” on Amazon Prime. The series is based on the Harry Bosch novels. Connelly is co-executive producer and co-screenwriter.

Advertisements