Connelly has never had much success writing memorable women in supporting roles, but this new star is a beauty ... The pacing of Ballard’s debut story is breathless. Unless she’s in the water, she never has a peaceful moment: There’s always a lead to follow, a house to scope out, a late-night call to make ... The novel moves so quickly, racking up so many witnesses and suspects, that it ought to be hard to follow. But Connelly expertly hides a trail of bread crumbs that leads straight to the denouement, with so much else going on that it’s impossible to see where he’s heading ... Ballard is complicated and driven enough to sustain the series Connelly doubtless has in mind for her. Connelly writes passionately about, and captures especially well here, the detective’s high when the pieces of a puzzle fall into place.
The most intriguing mystery in The Late Show is Ballard herself. Connelly is too skillful to hand us her resume in one document dump; instead, he fills out her portrait with a subtle hand over the course of the novel, a little background here, a glimpse of her temperament there, the revelation of her unusual living conditions sketched in between ... By the end of The Late Show that portrait is fleshed out and fascinating, but there's still plenty we don't know about Ballard, and that I'm looking forward to finding out.
Connelly’s special genius has always been his ability to build character like the most literary of novelists while attending to the procedural details of a police investigation with all the focus of an Ed McBain. He does both here, showing us Renée on her surfboard, working out her Bosch-like demons, but also grinding through the minutiae of the case until she achieves that 'Holy Grail of detective work,' that moment of knowing she has her man. Many established crime writers—James Lee Burke, Ian Rankin, Randy Wayne White—have launched new series as their signature heroes age, but few have done it as successfully as Connelly.
Writing about the instantly appealing police Detective Renee Ballard recharges Connelly, who has never been in better form ... Even after all these novels, Connelly hasn't run out of things to tell us about police procedure. One abduction scene plays out in surprising ways, ultimately calling into question the very act of self-defense. It grounds itself with references to real crimes ... For all the stark drama and realism in his books, Connelly is ever aware of the need to entertain.
Launching a new series and protagonist is hard work, and with so many characters, settings and departmental undercurrents to navigate, The Late Show’s seams show at times ... As she juggles involvement in the three increasingly complex cases, working some officially and others against the direct orders of Olivas and her lieutenant, there are enough reversals, surprises and action to keep fans of the Bosch series happily turning pages long into the night. Equally important, what emerges in The Late Show is a character whose sense of justice, fairness and determination reflect Connelly’s strengths as a storyteller as much as they do his better-known detective ... Welcome Renée Ballard to the City of Angels’ crime fighting pantheon. Barring an 8.0 direct hit on the Hollywood station, we will be seeing a lot more of her.
It’s a masterclass in developing a back story without a clumsy, overwhelming info dump and I loved exploring the many facets of Ballard’s personality ... Expect Connelly’s trademark Technicolor locations – but here, the sweeping cityscapes have the welcome addition of beach and waterborne scenes, adding a virtual breath of fresh air amid the smog and vehicle fumes of Los Angeles. Add in snappy characterisation, crisp dialogue and even throw in a fleeting mention of a certain Harry Bosch and you know you’re in for a treat in a book you won’t want to finish.
Through describing the detective’s step-by-step movements and dispensing information about her background only on a need-to-know basis, the author creates a bond between reader and protagonist akin to the one Renée shares with 'her' victims; and the excited satisfaction we feel at Ballard’s success seems as intense as the vindicating joy experienced by this intriguing new heroine.
What follows is classic Connelly: a master class of LAPD internal politics and culture, good old-fashioned detective work, and state-of-the-art forensic science—plus a protagonist who’s smart, relentless, and reflective. Talking about the perpetrator of the assault, Ballard says, 'This is big evil out there.' That’s Connelly’s great theme, and, once again, he delivers.
More perhaps than any of Connelly’s much-honored other titles, this one reveals why his procedurals are the most soulful in the business: because he finds the soul in the smallest details, faithfully executed.