3.5 stars for this new Michael Connelly novel which introduces another character in his L.A. universe, LAPD Detective Renee Ballard. Clocking in at 405 pages the pace is brisk and filled with the details of police procedure typical of Connelly's popular 'Bosch' series. Renee's from Hawaii, single, and lives out of a van and sleeps in a tent on the beach with her rescue dog Lola- she's essentially homeless by choice. She works what's known as the 'late show', the night shift at the LAPD where she was exiled after a failed sexual harrassment complaint against her supervisor. Her greatest frustration is not being able to follow through on cases and having to hand them off in the morning to the day shift detectives. In this novel Renee decides to swim up-stream and pursue two cases; a brutal assault of a transgender prostitute and a multiple homicide nightclub shooting on her own.
Overall I found this book engaging but was not all that enchanted with Det. Ballard. She is a loose cannon and she shares Harry Bosch's iconoclastic anti-authority style. Bucking authority for a junior detective seems like a poor approach if she's interested in career longevity; Bosch's been around for decades and "earned" the right to challenge bureaucracy but Ballard has not. Unlike Bosch young Renee is tech saavy and we get a few too many details about what apps she's using on her i-Phone and how she does internet data searches.
Her lifestyle is kind of weird, the sleeping on the beach thing to begin with and she's apparently an insomniac who almost never sleeps. Why she rescued Lola the dog is a mystery as she's always dumping her off with the 'critter-sitter' and spends little time with her pet- she should consider getting a goldfish. The remaining cast of characters are not well fleshed out and fairly one-dimensional; perhaps Connelly felt he needed to spend the time in establishing Ballard's identity. The plot is fairly tight and things wrap up reasonably at the conclusion but the motive for the nightclub shooter was unclear to me (maybe I missed it).
In summary, this new series from Mr. Connelly has potential and I would read another to see how things develop. I hope Det. Ballard rents an apartment, finds a mentor to help her dial back her attitude a bit, spends more time with her dog, and we get some more depth to the supporting cast.