(41. - 1113.) The Dark Hours by Michael Connelly - He had me by the end of the first sentence:
It was supposed to rain for
real and that would have
put a damper on the
annual rain of lead.
It is New Year’s Eve of December 31, 2020 and LAPD Detective, Renée Ballard, is out with the rest of the Department. At midnight it has become traditional for many, too many, gun owners in the city to fire their guns into the sky.
Ballard is with Lisa Moore, a sex crimes detective, who is just doing the minimum. Most officers, stung by the protests and vitriol after the killing of George Floyd, have been content to react when called and are no longer proactive officers. Ballard knows no approach but full commitment.
Ballard and Moore are waiting for the Midnight Men, a serial rapist duo, to strike as it is a holiday.
Instead, they are called to an autobody shop whose owner has been shot while the “rain of lead” is falling. Ballard takes charge and swiftly establishes it is murder. She does her best to grab the case over the homicide detective unit.
She learns the gun used was the same gun in a 9 year old cold murder case of Harry Bosch. She connects with Harry who is working at home on a different cold case.
As she is moving forward on the murder investigation, a woman, after hours of reflection, reports she has been raped by the Midnight Men.
Ballard takes the initiative as Moore has taken an unauthorized weekend with her boyfriend.
Ballard moves the rape investigation forward with solid detailed police work. It is the attention to a file of a dedicated now generally absent in the ranks of the 2021 LAPD.
I was thinking it is an excellent police procedural with less drama than many in the Bosch series when a startling twist in the plot gave me a jolt. It sent me racing forward.
Bosch and Ballard work together more aggressively as the murder investigation quickens.
I was conflicted over Ballard’s physical confrontations. While dramatic and more believable than many in crime fiction they were Hollywood. Yet Connelly has reasons for her acting independently.
I was feeling disturbed as the end approached. In Dark Sacred Night I had been disappointed by Ballard and Bosch become vigilantes, blatantly breach rules of police conduct and break the law. In The Dark Hours Connelly crafts a credible ending with recognition that there are consequences for vigilantism.
The book has a feel of transition. Ballard carefully involves the “old” detective, Bosch, in the investigation. He is swiftly becoming history within the LAPD. In the book Bosch is more a mentor than leader. Ballard drives the murder and rape investigations with insight and suggestions from Bosch. She has his drive, relentlessness and stubborn personal integrity.
I saw the book on numerous best of 2021 lists. I considered it for Bill’s Best of 2021 but did not list The Dark Hours. Since making and posting the list I have been wondering if I am holding Connelly to a higher standard because of his brilliance. As set out above there are some Hollywood aspects that bothered me but crime fiction does need drama. The Dark Hours is an excellent book well worth reading. After reflection I am comfortable with not including it in Bill's Best of 2021.
Connelly, Michael – (2000) - Void Moon; (2001) - A Darkness More than Night; (2001) - The Concrete Blonde (Third best fiction of 2001); (2002) - Blood Work (The Best); (2002) - City of Bones; (2003) - Lost Light; (2004) - The Narrows; (2005) - The Closers (Tied for 3rd best fiction of 2005); (2005) - The Lincoln Lawyer; (2007) - Echo Park; (2007) - The Overlook; (2008) - The Brass Verdict; (2009) – The Scarecrow; (2009) – Nine Dragons; (2011) - The Reversal; (2011) - The Fifth Witness; (2012) - The Drop; (2012) - Black Echo; (2012) - Harry Bosch: The First 20 Years; (2012) - The Black Box; (2014) - The Gods of Guilt; (2014) - The Bloody Flag Move is Sleazy and Unethical; (2015) - The Burning Room; (2015) - Everybody Counts or Nobody Counts; (2016) - The Crossing; (2016) - Lawyers and Police Shifting Sides; (2017) - The Wrong Side of Goodbye and A Famous Holograph Will; (2017) - Bosch - T.V. - Season One and Titus Welliver as Harry Bosch; (2018) - Two Kinds of Truth; (2019) - Dark Sacred Night and A Protest on Connelly's Use of Vigilante Justice; (2020) - The Night Fire; (2020) - Fair Warning; (2021) - The Law of Innocence and Writing a Credible Trial; Hardcover