Source: Review Copy
Publication: 30th October 2018 from Orion
At the end of a long, dark night Detectives Renée Ballard and Harry Bosch cross paths for the very first time.
Detective Renée Ballard works the graveyard shift and returns to Hollywood Station in the early hours to find a stranger rifling through old files.
The intruder is none other than legendary LAPD detective Harry Bosch, hunting for leads in an unsolved case that has got under his skin.
Ballard escorts him out but – curious to know what he was searching for – soon becomes obsessed by the murder of Daisy Clayton. Was she the first victim of a serial killer who still stalks the streets?
For Bosch, the case is more than personal: it may be all he has left.
But in a city where crime never sleeps, even detectives have a dark side…
Michael Connolly is an author whose books I can never resist. His writing flows beautifully; his style is agile and witty and his characters are always pitch perfect. As police procedurals go, there are few to match Harry Bosch. Last year we met a new character, Renée Ballard, for the first time in The Late Show. Like Bosch, she is a loner and also has demons of her own to contend with.
Still on the late shift, still being punished for being a woman in a man’s world, she’s operating on her own as her partner takes bereavement leave following the death of his wife. In the dark L.A. nights where crime doesn’t get much grittier, she regularly gets called out to deaths, murders and robberies. Ballard sees all too well the seedy side of Hollywood where everyone is on a hustle of some sort and the currency of the night is sex, drugs and lies.
Returning to the station after a call out, she spots a man she doesn’t know rifling through a colleague’s filing cabinet. That man is Harry Bosch, and he is pursuing a cold case of his own, something he is enabled to do by his association with the San Fernando PD, and this time it’s a case that means a lot to him.
Told in alternate third person chapters by Ballard and Bosch, Connolly ‘s approach allows the reader to understand the events and the cases from two different perspectives and it’s interesting to see how much both characters think alike. Not only that, but we get to see Renee through Harry’s eyes and vice versa. Harry is described by Connelly as ‘relentless’ and Ballard as ‘fierce’ and together they share a lot of the same characteristics.
Ballard works out what Harry is up to and pretty much pushes her way into his case, a nine year old cold case involving the death of 15 year old Daisy Clayton. It’s not long before the two have teamed up and are approaching this case with the same doggedness and determination that Harry has always displayed in his cases.
Of course they both have other cases, too. Harry is still working with SFPD and is investigating the death of Cristobal Vega, a gang member of the Varrio San Fer 13. Renee has a missing person to locate but it’s pretty clear when she visits his apartment and speaks to his flatmate that something smells off and it’s not long before she is yet again immersed in death and decay.
But on and off duty they jointly pursue any leads they can find in Daisy’s case. Things are not helped when it becomes clear that there’s a very strong odour of corruption in the SFPD when Harry’s principal witness in the Vega case taken out and the gang knows ahead of time where his evidence is leading him.
This is excellent, unashamed, old-fashioned police work and all the better for that. The crimes are believable, hard and unpleasant and the procedures a brilliant example of slogging through the dust to find that nugget of gold. Together they will investigate sleazy porn stars, a religious proselytiser and a host of unsavoury characters.
The darkest side of this book for me is the meting out of justice by the Special Investigation Section. This was a telling indictment of the inability of the police to understand their own prejudices and the dangers that poses to society as a whole. The difference between bending and breaking the rules is an important distinction.
Beautifully plotted and full of smart one-liners “I heard you’re the kind of guy who never lets the string run out—your old partner called you a dog with a bone.” (RB), Dark Sacred Night is a joy to read and a brilliant crime thriller where the pace and the danger never let up and the characters develop and mesh in front of your eyes. I loved Renee Ballard and Harry Bosch on their own and I love them twice as much together.
Roll on the next partnership between these two!
Verdict: A double header that delivers twice the pleasure.
About Michael Connolly
A former police reporter for the Los Angeles Times, Michael Connelly is the internationally bestselling author of the Harry Bosch series, and several other bestsellers including the highly acclaimed legal thriller, The Lincoln Lawyer. The TV series – Bosch – is one of the most watched original series on Amazon Prime and is now in its third season. He has been President of the Mystery Writers of America, and his books have been translated into thirty-nine languages and have won awards all over the world, including the Edgar and Anthony Awards. He spends his time in California and Florida.
Follow Michael Connelly on Twitter @ConnellyBooks
Visit the website here
Michael Connelly is on tour in England shortly (sadly not Scotland, sob). Booking essential.