The Dark Hours ~ Michael Connelly

This is the 23rd book in the Harry Bosch series and the 4th in the Renee Ballard books.  I’ve followed Michael Connelly since the first book #1 the Harry Bosch series including the Renee Ballard books, the Mickey Haller books, Jack McEvoy and there may be others.  Throughout the oeuvre there are a lot of repeating characters and there a bit of an over-arching plot line. It’s okay to read them out of order but in order is better if you enjoy them.  At first I read them out of order – as I could find them available – until 1996 or so when I started with Amazon.  Since then I’ve read the last 35  books as they were published.  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Michael_Connelly#Novels

The Dark Hours 
By Michael Connelly 
2021 – (401 pages)
Read by Titus Welliver, Christine Lakin 11h 4m
Rating: A / thriller – procedural

What John Grisham is to legal thrillers and Louise Penny is to who-done-its, Michael Connelly is for police procedurals. Yes, as usual The Dark Hours is heavy on the procedures of street cops and detectives plus office and department politics.  

At this point in the Harry Bosch series Harry has been retired for several years but keeps his hand in by helping a young woman detective with the Hollywood Division; that association has to be generally kept quiet though. Harry is basically bored. Renee Ballard is young, single, overworked and sometimes harassed but Bosch and Ballard have a similar mentality.

The first case(s) in this book: 3 young women have been brutally raped in what amounts to home invasions. Barrett gets information on the crimes from the victims even though the they were traumatized.  These violent rapes seem to be coordinated and the perpetrator is apparently a small group of men – not an individual. 

Another case, although not necessarily separate, is the murder by gunshot killing of a local business owner during a melee which erupted during a neighborhood New Year’s Eve party. As it turns out, the victim was an ex-gangster who “bought his way out” years prior and now had plenty of assets for someone …
 
So Renee is covering a serial rape case in the addition to the murder of a ex-gangster with one cop looking like he’s covering something up. Action includes coordinating activities with Bosch on the old gangster using and interviews with the victims on the rape case.  Ballard and Renee also coordinate sneaking around (out of the eyes of the bosses) getting stuff they need from whomever is involved. 

The book is kind of slow until Part 2 at about half-way which opens with much increased use of force.  Part 3, maybe 3/4 through, is intense, so hang in there. The elements are there – dangerous people who are greedy and willing to do what it takes, and scared people who will lie and snitch. Loyalty goes as far as a person is useful.  These tensions explode in Part 3 and naturally Ballard acts just like Bosch about putting solving the case above all else including department authority.  

Also, I think maybe all the descriptions and references to what Renee is doing when and how, slows the book down a bit. She checks reference material and cases and she calls a lot of people and she thinks a lot. She  communicates with Bosch who is always very discretely around and helpful.

A reading group asked a question about one-word reviews and my reply was that the book was “timely.”  By that I meant that there were references to quarantine, covid, distancing etc.  They’re waiting for vaccines to be released. Being older and having had surgeries, Bosch is “at risk,” but that’s not specifically mentioned. 

About narrations, Christine Lakin doesn’t seem to know how to read male characters. Otherwise she’s fine but it can seriously interfere with comprehension when the listener has to ask “Who said that?” and have a hard time figuring it out.

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