Saturday, May 25, 2019

Detectives Harry Bosch and Renee Ballard Team Up to Investigate the Murder of a Young Girl

Dark Sacred Night unites Michael Connelly's long-running protagonist, Harry Bosch, with newcomer Renee Ballard, whom Connelly introduced in The Late Show. Ballard is a detective working the night shift--the late show--and late one night she encounters Bosch rifling through the filing cabinets at the Hollywood station where she works. Bosch, who is now working cold cases as a reserve for the San Fernando P.D., is looking for records relating to the murder of Daisy Clayton, a fifteen-year-old runaway who was killed nine years earlier.

After some initial sparring, the two join forces to work the case in their spare time. Bosch is also investigating an old gang murder for the San Fernando department while Ballard is otherwise occupied by the usual calls that come in on her shift. But in and around their other responsibilities, the two will try to find justice for Daisy Clayton.

I'm a huge fan of Michael Connelly's novels, but this book just did not work as well for me as most of his others. For some reason, I'm having trouble warming up to Renee Ballard. After two books, I still don't find the character as interesting or as compelling as most of Connelly's other protagonists. The structure of the story didn't help either. It's told in alternating sections, one from Ballards P.O.V. and then the next from Bosch's. I found it disorienting, and it also seemed to drain some of the tension out of the story. Just as things were heating up from one character's P.O.V., it switched to the other's and the tension was dissipated.

Another problem was the fact that the two detectives were working this case in and around their other responsibilities. So, in effect, the search for Daisy's killer is constantly interrupted, particularly by the other incidents that Ballard is sent out to investigate. Some of these are interesting in and of themselves, but again they distract the reader's attention away from the main story.

The end result is that, at least for me, the book is not nearly as compelling as most of Connelly's other novels. Once one of his books gets its hooks into me, I usually can't bear to put it down until I've finished it. I had no problem putting this book down fairly frequently, though, because Connelly gave me plenty of opportunities to do so with all the breaks he inserted into the action. Dark Sacred Night is really not a bad book; I certainly enjoyed reading it, but it won't rank as one of my favorites among Connelly's many great books.

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