Monday, July 31, 2017

The Late Show by Michael Connelly

Renee is part of the Late Show, the overnight shift no one wants. Sent in to kick things off and hand things over, it means never having her name connected to a big case. And that's mostly ok, especially with her partner. But when two cases in one night catch Renee's attention, she has a hard time letting them go. First, she and her partner are called to the hospital where a trans woman has been admitted after being found brutally beaten and abandoned. The woman is unconscious, but Renee can tell she's been bound and likely kept imprisoned for multiple days. The case isn't high priority for multiple reasons, especially when it's discovered the victim has a record, but Renee manages to get permission to dig deeper.

The second case, a night club shooting, is all hands on deck and Renee's own former team is lead in the investigation. Then her old partner is found dead in his garage, an apparent suicide. Bad blood between the former partners means they haven't talked in quite some time. In spite of that, Renee can't believe her old partner would ever kill himself. And so she starts poking around. And the more she looks, the more she becomes convinced it's tied to the shooting.

Michael Connelly kicks off a brand spanking new series with The Late Show, introducing readers to Renee Ballard, a cop exiled to the late shift. The why is explained as the story progresses, but aside from being forced to hand off every case without seeing them through to the finish, Renee is pretty ok with it. Her partner even more so - his wife is sick and the lat shift allows him to be with her during her waking hours, plus he's more seasoned and jaded and really not concerned with the accolades of solving a big case.

Which is not to say that Renee is concerned with accolades either. In fact, her interest in the cases in this book stem from exactly that - interest. Interest in seeing the bad guys brought to justice and interest in getting closure for the victims.

And I thought it was fantastic!

I've been a piecemeal Connelly reader - a couple of standalone here and there and a fan of the adaptations (The Lincoln Lawyer and Bosch are both excellent, though I've not really read their respective series). That's due in part to the fact that I'm a bit stubborn about reading books in order! So here was a chance to start fresh, from the beginning, with a new character, and I definitely took advantage!

Renee exists in the same universe as Bosch. There's a tiny nod to him in a passing mention that confirms this is the same LA, which I definitely appreciated. And Renee definitely has some of the same characteristics Bosch displays - most notably her tendency to stick to her guns even if it means ignoring orders coming down from those in charge. But she does it a bit more on the sly, maybe. Time will tell in that regard.

Like Bosch, Renee also has a bit of a broken childhood, details of which play out as the story progresses. And there's definitely more there than we learned in this first outing.

Again, I really thought this was fantastic all around. I loved Renee (and Lola). The pacing was dead on and the plot was pretty perfectly built!

I did actually listen to this one on audio, narrated by Katherine Moennig. When the story kicked off I wasn't quite sure the audio was going to completely click for me - narrator is definitely key in this regard - but I quickly found that I quite liked Moennig as the voice of Renee. And rather than listening in stops and starts, whenever the opportunity arose, I found myself playing the audio practically straight through!

The Late Show is perfect as an intro to Connelly and will absolutely please longtime fans as well. I look forward to big things from Renee Ballard!

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