This Late Show is the newest police procedural by Michael Connelly, famous for his intertwined Harry Bosch series and Lincoln Lawyer series. Although they say you can’t tell a book by its cover, this cover clearly reveals that The Late Show is the first novel in a new series featuring Renee Ballard, an LAPD detective. It pretty much lives up to Connelly’s well-deserved reputation.
It’s not giving anything away to say that the title refers to the night shift in a squad of detectives. Although parts of this novel are cliché, like the conflicts between the honorable police detective and her sleazy bosses or the detective-in-danger trope, most of it rings true. I would never have picked Connelly to be a successful portrayer of a female protagonist — and I suppose we need to ask a female reader to make that judgment accurately — but in my opinion Connelly is surprisingly convincing at this task. Ballard is three-dimensional, flawed, dedicated, and real.
Connelly has long been one of my favorite crime writers, sometimes a bit too dark (vide Bosch) but always knowledgeable and suspenseful. Presumably his previous experience as a crime reporter helped develop his expertise. The Late Show manages to maintain suspense while never being gimmicky or fake; it held my interest and attention from beginning to end. I listened to the audiobook version, so I don’t know whether the experience of reading the dead-tree version would have been different.