Detectives Renée Ballard and Harry Bosch return in The Dark Hours by Michael Connelly. It is New Year’s Eve and as 2020 ends LAPD Detective Renée Ballard and Detective Lisa Moore of the Hollywood Division Sexual Assault Unit are unhappily partnered together and parked under the concrete lanes of the Cahuenga overpass. Moore is grumbling, but Ballard has been on tactical alert for NYE before and knows parking under this overpass is one of the safest places to be as celebratory gunfire rains down.


After the fireworks and the gunfire finally ends, they get a call to respond to a nearby shooting near the intersection of Sunset Boulevard and Gower Street. Back in the day, it was where day labors were picked up to work as extras in Westerns. These days, a faded shopping plaza sits on the spot with walled off studio lots nearby. Across the street is a string of auto repair shops and aging apartment complexes. It is the gang territory of Las Palmas 13 and they will soon learn that their victim was once in the Las Palmas 13.


Many years ago, Javier Raffa, bought his way out of the gang. In the here and now, he was owner of an auto body shop. Each year for NYE, he would throw a neighborhood party and put out a keg for all. The headshot he took this night means he won’t be around to host another. The headshot was also clearly not because of a round coming back to earth.


Somebody executed Raffa at close range and did it while everyone else in the crowd was looking skyward. Even more interesting, the bullet involved traces back to a cold case of one Detective Harry Bosch. While he is even more of a hot potato due to his recent actions, there is no option but to reach out to Bosch and discuss the situation. She needs his help and has to get it as quietly as possible in order not to totally destroy her own career.


At the same time, it is also clear that Moore is going to be zero help, at best, and a definite hindrance at worst. The two are paired as part of the hunt for a pair of serial rapists known as the “Midnight Men.” The horrible attitude expressed in so many ways by Moore reflects the ongoing malaise affecting many in the LAPD. Moral is in the toilet that to the protests, the pandemic, and various other factors that getting Moore and many other officers to do more than the minimum is problematic. So, basically, Ballard is on her own on the rape case and is pretty much on her own on the murder case because using Bosch comes with limits and severe consequences.


But, like Bosch, Ballard only knows one way to do the job. Screw the politics, build cases, and get the bad folks off the street. What follows is an intense police procedural that works by the way of several different storylines. Multiple cases and other matters are slowly brought together in a read with a powerful ending. One would expect nothing else from the author and he more than delivers in The Dark Hours.





My reading copy came from the Downtown Branch of the Dallas Public Library System.



Kevin R. Tipple ©2021

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