Detective Renée Ballard works ‘The Late Show’, the notorious graveyard shift at the LAPD. It’s thankless work for a once-promising detective, keeping strange hours in a twilight world of crime.
Some nights are worse than others. And tonight is the worst yet.
In The Late Show, Michael Connolly introduces us to a brand new character – Renée Ballard, a young detective working in the LAPD. This is the first in a planned series with Ballard, with a second book featuring her scheduled for release late 2018.
The title refers to the night shift of the LAPD, a strange world where detectives sweep everything and anything up only to hand it all over to the day shift detectives. Ballard has been demoted to this shift following an unsuccessful sexual harassment claim against one of the Lieutenants in the department. Her partner at the time didn’t support her, which effectively estranged them.
The book begins with a busy shift. A credit card fraud, a vicious assault in a transgender person, and a multiple homicide at a nightclub. Ballard gets involved in all three cases far beyond what would be expected of her role within the late show shift. These three crimes form the strands around which Connolly crafts the book, and he does it very well. It sounds complicated, and it is, but Connolly has the writing chops to carry it off.
Ballard herself has an interesting background. She is of Hawaiian descent and grew up on the beaches of Maui. Her father, a competitive surfer, drowned when she was in High School, and her mother abandoned her shortly afterward. Ballard spent almost a year effectively homeless before being taken in by her grandmother. This spell of homelessness carries over to her adult life in a sense – she spends a lot of time on the beach, either paddling in the water or sleeping in a tent. Her only constant friendship is with a dog called Lola.
The book does start slowly, and gathers pace along the way. Perhaps I’m too used to reading Connolly books where I already know the central characters well, but it took me a good couple of hundred pages to get into Ballard’s character. By the end of the book though, I was completely sold on her.
This book gets a solid 4 stars from me. The relatively slow starting pace and the time it took me to get into the new character costs it that final star, but it’s a very good read.
Would I recommend this book? Absolutely. A solid 4 stars.