Cover Image: The Dark Hours

The Dark Hours

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Before starting this book, I asked myself if crime fiction is still relevant, or if it needs to change.  Should cops who don't play by the rules, make rash decisions and disregard the constitutional rights of the public be romanticized?  Probably not.  Connelly really skates the line with Renee Ballard.  While she pursues justice and truly cares about the victims, she pushes the boundaries of acceptable behavior, the the extent that her actions may hinder the prosecution.  

While Connelly does deal with these issues, Renee is largely given a total pass for her actions, which are extraordinarily irresponsible.  He also address current issues like COVID and racial justice protests.  I wish he delved a bit deeper into the 2020 protests.  I also wish the rape storyline hadn't been included.  There are plenty of other serial cases that would interest Renee.  

All in all this was an enjoyable book.  Michael Connelly is a huge name in crime fiction, and I wish he would take more of a stand.
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4+ Fostered by my mother, my love for mysteries and detective novels, began when I was a pre-teen. Long ago. Together we read Phyllis Whitney, Victoria Holt, Agatha Christie and watched on televisy The Thin Man, my mom's favorite. Throughout the years I've read many series, dropped some as my reading tastes slightly changed, picked up a few. Connelly and his Bosch novels is a series I've faithfully read from the beginning.

Now retired, or supposedly retired, he works on unsolved cases. The addition of a young Ballard, a detective who reaches out to Harry, is a welcome addition, as well as keeping the series fresh. What is unique about this book is that the author doesn't shy away from the events occuring at present. A demoralized police department, Covid, masks and vaccines are integrated into the story. The plot itself features two different cases but Harry's help is once again sought as one of the cases touched on an unsolved that Harry had worked when he was in the department. 

These stories always read fast, always interesting and we'll written. Ballard is different because she doesn't shy away from using unusual and often frowned on tactics to solve a case. A little like a younger Bosch, though of course she is female. At books end Ballard will be given a choice. Alas, we have to wait for the next book to see what decision she makes.

ARC from Netgalley.
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So this is probably the fourth novel I have read that was written during the great COVID-19 pandemic. At least the fourth that the author includes it as part of the narrative. Maybe it’s because we are still in the midst of the pandemic that I feel compelled to address this. Some authors are very heavy handed with it and I just sigh because I read to escape, at least my Fiction books. Overall, Connelly does not overdo it except the time when Renee asked Harry on two separate occasions at his house, about his preference for masking. What bothered me about that was just simply lazy writing. Connelly is a good writer and he always gives a good plot so this is not a critique of his actual plot but just some of the idiosyncrasies of writers and my take on it. Also, writing with the zeitgeist , he addresses the police malaise due to the public outcry to defund the police. I did find this very timely and appreciated his take on the men and women in blues’  side of the things. Thanks to NetGalley for a complimentary copy of the book in exchange for my honest review.
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Another great book featuring Renee Ballard and her mentor and friend Harry Bosch. With Bosch now long retired and older, this series is a great way to keep him involved and readers entertained. The storyline keeps you turning the page and keep reading.
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I’m liking the Bosch/Ballard partnership more and more. In this novel, Renee Ballard is juggling a couple of different cases on the graveyard shift that could be more than the gang shooting and rape that they seem. She pulls in Bosch when she needs help and begins to feel alienated from her colleagues on the force.
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It’s New Year’s Eve and LAPD Detective Renee Ballard is sitting under an overpass waiting for the traditional rain of bullets at the stroke of midnight. Paired with another female officer on loan from the Hollywood sex crimes unit. They are trying to catch a duo of rapists before they strike again. Only Lisa seems more interested in her boyfriend.

At midnight someone is using the noise and confusion to murder a former gang member gone straight. Called out Renee goes to the scene. This isn’t a case of bullets raining down. This shot came from close up. And the bullet leads her to one of Bosch’s cases.

As they team up to find a killer, the killer is making plans for them.

Who doesn’t love Bosch? And Connelley kept it very real. With everything from Black Lives Matter to defunding the police and the pandemic as well. There is a lot of distrust of the police by the community and he gives us all of that. We get a lot of Ballard and she really won me over in this one.

Suspenseful and solid all the way!

NetGalley/November 9th, 2021 by Little, Brown, and Company
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It’s New Year’s Eve 2021 and COVID-19 is in full effect. LAPD Detective Renee Ballard and Harry Bosch team up in search of a serial killer duo in Los Angeles called the Midnight Men. Another murder takes place under the cover of the typical “gunfire in the air” that occurs as the clock strikes 12 in L.A. Are these 2 cases related somehow? Ballard and Bosch are determined to solve it!

Michael Connelly is a truly exceptional author and THE DARK HOURS is a great addition to his collection of outstanding novels. I can really appreciate that he incorporated all of the important current events of 2020 in the storyline, such as COVID-19, Black Lives Matter, and Defund the Police protests. This gave the book a unique style that kept it very interesting despite the fact that I have read many of Connelly’s books. Another great read with some of your favorite repeat characters!

Many thanks to NetGalley and Little, Brown and Company for my ARC in exchange for my honest review.

This review will be posted to my Instagram Blog (@coffee.break.book.reviews) in the near future.
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Michael Connelly just gets better and better.  In this fourth entry in his Rene Ballard/Harry Bosch series he seamlessly interweaves two sets of crime - murder and rape -- with contemporary social issues that encompass the coronavirus pandemic, sexual harassment,homelessness, the role of the police in today's culture and the result of recent events on both society's and internal police reactions, the January 6 insurrection, and more.  Connelly keeps the reader in suspense  as the focus sharpens on Ballard and her resistance to her colleagues who take the easy road instead of the hard work of actually solving their cases.  There is plenty of action but it never overwhelms the flow of the story.  There are times when Connelly paints Ballard with a bit more heroism than seems plausible, but that is just a minor nitpick.  The Dark Hours is by far Connelly's best book and readers will be eager to get their hands on a copy.
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At the intersection of “defund the police” and the “coronavirus pandemic” is hardworking Los Angeles Police Detective Renée Ballard trying to solve a murder case -- maybe two of them -- as well as catching a tag-team rapist duo dubbed the Midnight Men in Michael Connelly’s latest police procedural, The Dark Hours. 

Hampered by masking, social distancing, and colleagues who are just trying to “call it in” during the days until retirement or a career change, Ballard turns to her unofficial mentor, Harry Bosch, Connelly’s well-known, now retired, LAPD detective. When Ballard finds a murder book was last checked out to Bosch, she turns to him to help her connect the clues in a murder that happened on New Year’s Eve to an unsolved murder Bosch investigated while still on the force. Trouble is Bosch did not sign out the murder book although he still has his own notes to consult for recall.

While Ballard finds little help from her burned out coworkers, some of whom she does not trust, Bosch is ready to offer her backup on all three cases as he is bored sitting home avoiding the virus. Soon the two investigators start drilling down into the evidence as they attempt to solve both his cold case and her midnight murder case. As Ballard draws nearer to solving the cases, the hassle from “the Brass” about involving Bosch and other tactics finds her questioning her own future with the department. Will she have to go rogue to catch the Midnight Men?

This is the fourth Connelly book featuring Ballard, a cop who is known for her risky and unauthorized actions. However, Ballard continues to show she is a gifted and talented investigator who could be a catalyst for important change within the police department. 

After Michael Connelly spent three years covering crime in Los Angeles, he wrote his first novel featuring Harry Bosch, The Black Echo, which he based partly on a true crime. Connelly was the man behind the series “Bosch” on Amazon Prime and is integral in bringing a Bosch spin-off coming to Amazon-owned IMDB streaming service.

My review will be posted on Goodreads starting October 6, 2021.

I would like to thank Little, Brown and Company, the Hatchette Book Group, and NetGalley for providing me with an ARC in return for an objective review.
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Publication date: November 9, 2021

Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for the opportunity to read and review an advanced reader's copy of this book. This in no way affects my review, all opinions are my own.

From the publisher, as I do not repeat the contents or story of books in reviews, I let them do it as they do it better than I do 😸.

Has a killer lain dormant for years only to strike again on New Year’s Eve? LAPD Detective Renée Ballard and Harry Bosch team up to find justice for an innocent victim in the new thriller from #1 New York Times bestselling author Michael Connelly

There's chaos in Hollywood on New Year's Eve. Working her graveyard shift, LAPD Detective Renée Ballard seeks shelter at the end of the countdown to wait out the traditional rain of lead as hundreds of revellers shoot their guns into the air. As reports start to roll in of shattered windshields and other damage, Ballard is called to a scene where a hardworking auto shop owner has been fatally hit by a bullet in the middle of a crowded street party.

It doesn't take long for Ballard to determine that the deadly bullet could not have fallen from the sky. Ballard’s investigation leads her to look into another unsolved murder—a case at one time worked by Detective Harry Bosch.

Ballard and Bosch team up once again to find out where the old and new cases intersect. All the while they must look over their shoulders. The killer who has stayed undetected for so long knows they are coming after him.

Harry Bosch is one of my favourite characters in fiction ever ... and I loved the show as well... Welliver. (lol)  Renee Ballard did not appear on the show in case this is the first book you pick up after being peeved that that series was not renewed but she is a beloved character in this book universe.  It is an excellent addition to the Bosch Universe of books and if you have not read any of them,... well pick them up and read some or all of them. (I reread the entire series this year!)  

The story is compelling and well written and at no time do you say "no way" to some junky police science or unbelievable plotline. What an excellent addition to the series and I look forward to the next one(s) as well. 

As always, I try to find a reason to not rate with stars as I simply adore emojis (outside of their incessant use by "🙏-ed Social Influencer Millennials/#BachelorNation survivors/Tik-Tok and YouTube Millionaires/snowflakes / literally-like-overusers etc. ") on Instagram and Twitter... Get a real job, people!) so let's give it 👮‍♂️👮‍♂️👮‍♂️👮‍♂️👮‍♂️
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Harry Bosch has been my literary idol from the start. And in The Dark Hours, Renee Ballard really grows into her role as a dedicated, intelligent, and fearless L.A. police detective. The intense action scenes highlighted Ballard’s physical and intellectual strength, skill, and quick thinking. Again the Bosch-Ballard teamwork was seamless, each playing to their own strengths. Set in the first week of 2021, the novel realistically includes the events and conditions that stressed the nation, including the lack of morale in the police department initiated by the Black Lives Matter/Defund the Police movements and exacerbated by the pandemic and the political divisions. Some readers will appreciate Connelly’s smooth incorporation of these stressors into the plot. Others will decry the intrusion of the many negative realities into the suspenseful progression of the police procedural. I felt the emphasis detracted from the story. The cases were wrapped up efficiently, but both the final interaction between Bosch and Ballard and the conversation in the closing cliffhanger scene about Ballard’s future direction, to this reader, registered as clichéd and awkwardly constructed. But that’s the first time ever, Mr. Connelly.
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According to the accompanying literature, this is the fourth and final story in the Renee Ballard and Harry Bosch series, and while it is good,  it does not have the edgy dynamic of the earlier works. Maybe because their working relationship is now as comfortable as bedroom slippers, or maybe because Harry is out to pasture, but there was none of the frequent challenge that set this partnership apart from other police procedurals in fact, Harry does not even make an appearance til Chapter 8.
The two cases being worked are each worthy of a book of their own. The New Year’s Eve homicide of a former gang member is linked to a cold case Harry was on years ago. The series of home invasion-rapes Renee and her indifferent partner are investigating builds suspense as Renee puts the pieces together and comes up against department politics.
The power of the story is stymied by the events of the world of 2020. Connelly tries to be true to society and reflect the stress of COVID and the drop in morale of the police due to BLM, but both factors weigh heavily on the pure entertainment of the plot.. In all Bosch and Ballard stories there has been the constant push between police procedures and the rebel investigator. This same dynamic continues, but it seems disappointingly muted with little of the sparks from past confrontations.  Even the ending seems like a lukewarm solution to earlier issues. In what may be a metaphor for the whole story, Renee replaces her massive  rescue dog Lola with a chihuahua. 
Connelly continues to be the master of the police procedural but this particular edition lacks the vitality of a powerful antihero to elevate it beyond the conventions of just a typical Law and Order rerun.
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This is the first mystery I’ve read that tackles COVID, Black Lives Matter, Defund the Police protests and the January 2021 Insurrection  head on. I really appreciated that Connelly didn’t try to avoid the current times, like I see so many series doing.    It’s NYE going into 2021 and the vaccine is around the corner.  Renee Ballard has already had COVID.  A majority of the police force is demoralized, working the bare minimum, because why bother? 
She’s been partnered with Lisa Moore, of the Hollywood sex crimes unit to try and track down two tag-team serial rapists. But she also catches another case, a homicide that occurs at a NYE party.  A homicide that has links to a murder Harry Bosch investigated years ago, before he retired.  Of course, her LT wants her to turn over the murder to the Homicide dept.   But she keeps delaying, while she and Harry begin an off the books investigation.  
Connelly perfectly captures the mood of the police.   It seems like Ballard is the only one that even cares anymore.  As the story goes on, she walks a fine line between catching the criminals and the ire of the department.  
I really enjoyed Ballard in the first three books, but she truly won my heart by adopting a rescue dog.  This is truly Ballard’s story,  not Harry’s.  There’s a cliffhanger at the end and I’ll be curious to see how the next in the series starts off.  
Once again, Connelly has put together a fabulous story.   It moves quickly with a great sense of underlying suspense.  I did see how the rape story was going to play out, but that didn’t dampen my enjoyment.  I can only hope some studio is smart enough to tag this series for a tv mini-series. 
My thanks to Netgalley and Little, Brown for an advance copy of this book.
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The only thing wrong with Michael Connelly novels (especially Rene Ballard books) is they are only published one at a time. They should come a boxful at a time, then I could read till the next  batch. For all the Ballard fans out there, this is worth the wait.
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Review to be posted to blog: books-are-a-girls-best-friend.com

Nowadays, times appear rougher than they used to be. Danger shows itself in different ways.  Here and now, you can’t always see what’s right in front of your face simply because everyone is hiding behind a mask and Covid is ever-present. 

Never one to shy away from reality, Michael Connelly’s new novel, The Dark Hours brings it home. 

It’s in The Dark Hours that  Detective Renee Ballard does her best work.  She is a night owl and she loves flying solo. When a homicide occurs on her watch in the Late Shift, she wants it, even if the investigation should go to the detectives in the Hollywood Division. Once she dives into the case, what she finds, makes her want it even more. Her case links to an old unsolved crime, a cold case of retired Detective Harry Bosch’s, and wouldn’t you know it, the two decide to work together to solve them both.  

Ballard, of course, investigates other crimes as well, one of which involves several women assaulted in their homes, in the middle of the night, by a group called The Midnight Men, which brings about a different type of danger altogether.

This was a nail-biter, to say the least!

A very well-written, well-done police procedural, which took place during the pandemic.  Something very few authors even attempt.  I truly appreciated the care that Michael Connelly took, to center a police procedural in and around the pandemic and give major kudos to him for that.  

What I love most about this series is the camaraderie between Ballard and Bosch which warms my heart. If you know me, you know how much I love these characters, Harry Bosch specifically.  I could, in fact, wax poetic about my love for Harry Bosch (and have, in many a book review in this series, lol).  While I wish that Bosch took a more prominent role here, I still adored this novel and love the character of Renee Ballard. It's clear that there will be some changes in store for both of these characters and I look forward to seeing where life takes them. 

A huge thank you to Little Brown and Company and NetGalley for the arc. Thank you for always being so generous in feeding my Harry Bosch obsession (lol). 

Published on Goodreads, Instagram, and Twitter.
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I have never put down a Michael Connelly book without finishing and have followed Harry Bosch loyally. I loved when Bosch and Mickey Haller turned out to be related and so enjoyed the characters crossing over into each other's lives. I just can't connect to Renee Ballard and I genuinely blame covid. At this point when I actually read the words "slowly getting less terrible" in a New York Times article, I want a book that I can simply slip into and submerge my brain. I don't seem to have the energy to work at it.  And sometimes to acquire a taste for something, it takes a bit of work. I met Renee Ballard in  "The Late Show"  which was an excellent place to  debut. Now, in her fourth appearance, Detective Ballard  still seems to be more devoted than any of her co-workers, Like Bosch, she cares. Working a  New Year's eve death, the entry angle proves it's not from a celebratory bullet, it's murder. And although the case shouldn't be hers, she was on graveyard shift and would be expected to hand it over, she hangs on. I find that even so early on, I am wishing Bosch was already there.  So, for the first time ever I put a Bosch aside and tell myself I'll try again another time. I apologize Mr. Connelly. I know I'm using an old excuse but it's sincere - it's not you, it's me.
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Another great mystery featuring Renee Ballard and Harry Bosch - a great detective team!! Connelly’s books are always great to read and in this book he incorporates the pandemic and insurrection at the White House.
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I’m a BIG Michael Connelly fan. Recently, I have enjoyed 2020’s Law of Innocence, (the latest “Lincoln Lawyer” novel featuring Mickey Haller) and Fair Warning (with Jack McEvoy from The Poet and Scarecrow books), but have been eagerly awaiting more of Detective Renee Ballard, introduced in 2017’s The Late Show. The strong female protagonist always appealed to me, and the combination of Detective Ballard and retiree Harry Bosch is terrific! 

In Connelly’s latest, The Dark Hours, Ballard is back! No longer sleeping in a tent on the beach when she isn’t crashing briefly with family, Renee has an actual apartment and is looking for a new dog to replace her former tentmate and protector. She is still working the night shift, and as the story opens, it is New Years Eve and she is temporarily partnered with Lisa from Sex Crimes, working the case of the “Midnight Men”, serial rapists who have been terrorizing women in L.A. A call comes in about a death possibly caused by one of the many  falling bullets that come down after being shot into the air in celebration of the start of the New Year (or perhaps the end of the past year, which has been a tough one for the everyone, but even more so for police, with both the pandemic and the anti-police feelings going strong throughout the community). 

Lisa displays a serious lack of work ethic, which aggravates Ballard, even though she gets it: “After a year of pandemic and anti-police sentiment, commitment to the job was sometimes hard to find.” Both issues (pandemic and anti-police sentiment) are deftly woven throughout the story, and Connelly superbly captures Renee’s frustration as she deals with what seems like a lack of support from fellow cops, too burned out to want to even leave the precinct, let alone seriously pursue solid leads. Fortunately for Renee, one of her leads goes straight to a cold case that was handled back in the day by none other than Harry Bosch, someone with whom Renee has a history of tackling sticky situations in a slightly unorthodox way. 

I love Renee’s struggle as she tries valiantly to work the cases despite challenges that are exacerbated by departmental politics intertwined with current social and public health issues.  “It sometimes seemed to her as though the biggest barricades in the so-called justice system were on the inside, before you even got out the door.” Although there is some resolution to the cases Renee is working so hard to solve, the story ends with a bit of a question as to what is next for Renee, both personally and professionally. Here’s hoping she and Harry Bosch are back soon with another outstanding entry in this series. Five stars, and thanks to Little, Brown and NetGalley for a copy in exchange for this honest review.
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I hated to put down The Dark Hours by Michael Connelly. It was an exciting thriller.  Ballard and Bosch as partners - I can't wait for more!
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The Dark Hours is the latest book in Michael Connelly’s Renee Ballard/Harry Bosch series.   Ballard is working two new cases, a pair serial rapist and a New Years Eve murder.  She turns to her mentor, retired detective  Harry Bosch, for help and advice.  Although Ballard is the main character in this book, Bosch shows up enough to keep thing interesting.  It started out a little slow but  ends on a note that will have you looking for the next book to see what happens.  Connelly did a nice job bring in many of our present day issues, George Floyd, defunding the police, COVID, etc.  Good read.  You won’t want to miss this installment of the Ballard/Bosch series.
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