The Dark Hours – Michael Connelly (Ballard #4; Bosch #35!)

Another very enjoyable entry in the Ballard/Bosch Series. Michael Connelly has never written a book I found unoriginal or unenjoyable. Here, Renee is still doing late nights but she actually has an apartment to live in, complete with an annoying HOA. Set during the pandemic and the aftermath of the Black Lives Matter protests and the Defund the Police movement, morale is down and Renee observes she is one of the few people not phoning it in and being overly cautious. She is frustrated that she is no longer a homicide detective: She might homicide cases but they will all end up centralized in another unit. 

The book opens on New Year’s Eve. Renee is partnered with Lisa Moore for this all hands on deck night. Moore is with the sex crimes unit and they are on alert for a team of two rapists who have struck twice on holidays. They are taking cover under an overpass because at midnight, yahoos all over LA shoot guns into the air in a dangerous expression of revelry. Almost immediately after midnight, they are called to a death that turns out to be a murder committed under the cover of the New Years blasting. Renee desperately wants to keep this case. Lisa basically sticks her with the third rape case when she leaves town for the weekend even though she is on call. There’s a connection to a case Bosch handled and the murder case. 

Through careful investigation, the folks that are still engaged in the force, and breaking enough rules to trash her future with the force, Renee and Bosch work the cases to satisfying conclusions. I’d say the most interesting thing in both the crimes is what the motive turns out to be and what the perpetrators got out of it. Not a spoiler since those of you who read these books should be looking for this and I did not solve them too early.

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