“Dark Sacred Night” by Michael Connelly is book two in the Renée Ballard series and twenty-one for Harry Bosch. I read the print book, but I also listened to the audio version with Renée narrated by Christine Lakin and Bosch voiced by Titus Welliver.
Lakin communicates Ballard believably, her determination, her curiosity, her frustration, and her dedication to her job. Ballard is a detective on LAPD’s late show, and juggles her personal life with her ever-changing caseload. One night she encounters an unknown man going through the files, retired LAPD detective Harry Bosch. Thus begins an unusual but focused association.
Titus Welliver narrates the Bosch chapters, but this is not the Bosch that Welliver portrays in the Amazon series. This is the Bosch familiar to readers. Bosch is older, retired from LAPD, working on cold cases as a “reserve” officer. Bosch has bad knees, broken relationships, unresolved issues galore, and a continuing determination to make everyone count.
The point of view of the narrative alternates between the two characters. Ballard manages her demanding and ever changing caseload as an LAPD detective. Her personal life is unsettled, and the only constant is her dog that spends Ballard’s working hours in doggie day care. Bosch works cold cases as a reserve officer for the San Fernando Police department, but he carries with him the weight of cases from the past. One of those cases is the brutal death of Daisy Clayton, a runaway. This case brings the two characters together.
One characteristic of Connelly’s books is a cast of fully developed, unique characters. Bosch and Ballard arrive on the pages with complex stories and complicated lives. We get to know both well. The two, while awkward and reserved at first, forge an unlikely partnership. Together they strive to solve Daisy’s murder; individually they struggle with complexities in their own lives. Nothing stands still in a Connelly book, and even Bosch has new revelations to drop on readers. Connelly intertwines the complexity of detective work with the vulnerability of people and the determination of his characters. He pays attention to even the smallest detail, and creates a book that is well researched, grounded in real life, and captivating to read. The coalition of Ballard and Bosch seems to have taken root, and there are sure to be more appearances of this unlikely team in future books.