Renee Ballard works the midnight shift in Hollywood, beginning many investigations but finishing few, as each morning she turns everything over to the daytime units. Read more...
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Renee Ballard works the midnight shift in Hollywood, beginning many investigations but finishing few, as each morning she turns everything over to the daytime units. It's a frustrating job for a once up-and-coming detective, but it's no accident. She's been given this beat as punishment after filing a sexual harassment complaint against a supervisor.But one night Ballard catches two assignments she doesn't want to part with. First, a prostitute is brutally beaten and left for dead in a parking lot. All signs point to a crime of premeditation, not passion, by someone with big evil on his mind. Then she sees a young waitress breathe her last after being caught up in a nightclub shooting. Though dubbed a peripheral victim, the waitress buys Ballard a way in, and this time she is determined not to give up at dawn. Against orders and her partner's wishes, she works both cases by day while maintaining her shift by night. As the investigations intertwine, Ballard is forced to face her own demons and confront a danger she could never have imagined. To find justice for these victims who can't speak for themselves, she must put not only her career but her life on the line. Propulsive as a jolt of adrenaline and featuring a bold and defiant new heroien, The Late Show is yet more proof that Michael Connelly is "a master of the genre" (Washington Post).
Whodunit: A red-eye investigation
The title of The Late Show, the first book in Michael Connelly’s newest series, is the au courant cop euphemism for what used to be called the “graveyard shift.” Cop Renée Ballard gets exiled to this very shift after she files sexual harassment charges against a senior officer and loses the battle for justice. Ballard’s new beat hosts a different sort of policing than that pursued by her daytime counterparts. Most of the time, her nighttime cases involve little more than preliminary interviews and the task of securing the crime scenes before passing the baton to the day-shift investigators. But this is all about to change when she comes across two new cases: the brutal beating of a transgender prostitute and the shooting of five people in a Hollywood nightclub called The Dancers (a nod to Raymond Chandler’s seminal Los Angeles noir, The Long Goodbye). Like any good cop, Ballard chafes at the idea of handing off her cases, so she pursues the investigation on the down-low, a particularly dangerous undertaking, considering that the lead officer on the nightclub case is none other than the officer who sexually harassed her. Few authors, if any, know more about drawing readers into a new series than Connelly, and he does so in spades this time around.
GOING OFF BOOK
Sometimes the best-laid plans go awry, but rarely as spectacularly as those of Cassie Dewell, an investigator for the Bakken County sheriff’s department in North Dakota, in her foiled attempt to capture the serial killer known as the Lizard King in C.J. Box’s riveting Paradise Valley. Dewell’s latest sting operation should have been foolproof. But the culprit caught wind of the sting and then constructed his own retribution—punctuated with explosives and multiple dead bodies. Now Cassie is disgraced and out of a job, and the Lizard King is still at large. That said, Cassie still holds an ace or two in her hand—and she’s no longer constrained by the rules and regulations of the police department. She has no intention of stopping until justice is done, either by the courts or, if necessary, by Smith & Wesson. Nobody in contemporary suspense does a better job of portraying the new Wild West than Box.
Adrenaline junkies, take note: The new Jeff Abbott novel, Blame, unfolds in totally unexpected ways—just as his fans have come to expect. Jane Norton is an old soul, aged by life events far beyond her tender 20 years: the mysterious death of her father; the tragic car accident that left her with serious injuries, partial amnesia and took the life of her friend and next-door neighbor, David; and the aftermath of being shunned by friends and family for her perceived role in said accident. None of the talk would stand up in a court of law, but a court of gossip is bound by far less stringent rules of evidence. Now, three years to the day after what she rightly considers the worst day of her life, Jane gathers up the courage to go on social media to see what people are posting. And that is where she finds the post from “Liv Danger” threatening to tell the truth about the accident. The post ends with the ominous note, “All will pay,” and this is where the story takes off. At 384 pages, Blame is a long read for one sitting, but you’ll want to do just that.
TOP PICK IN MYSTERY
The field of suspense novels covers a broad range of subgenres and locales: intense urban police procedurals set in Oslo or Sao Paulo; unique detective stories set in North Korea or Botswana; cozies set in Martha’s Vineyard or provincial France. But if you’re desperately seeking mysteries set in post-revolution Laos, you have but one choice: Colin Cotterill’s series featuring the irrepressible Dr. Siri Paiboun. In his latest adventure, The Rat Catchers’ Olympics, retired septuagenarian Dr. Siri finagles a spot on the Laotian contingent to the 1980 Moscow Olympics. (Keep in mind that this was a notoriously undersubscribed Olympic Games due to the politics of the time, thus affording an opportunity for poorer countries, like Laos, to take part.) Dr. Siri will not be a competitor, at least not in the athletic sense, but will serve as the team’s doctor. He’s also self-appointed investigator of all things seemingly not on the up-and-up, of which there will be many—like the unnamed team member who may be an assassin. The Dr. Siri books are by turns laugh-out-loud funny, sobering, convoluted, historical and endlessly entertaining, especially the parts where the eccentric Siri engages in putting one over on any or all of his acquaintances in government. This series will have you reading (and laughing) well after most people in your household are sound asleep.