Book Review: THE NIGHT FIRE, Bosch and Ballard make sparks fly again

Harry Bosch, somewhat humbled by a knee replacement surgery, attends the funeral of John Jack Thompson, 40 year LAPD veteran who mentored Bosch when he joined Hollywood Division in his first detective assignment. From this legend, Bosch learned how to interview suspects, how to organize an investigation, and how to keep a motivational fire burning.

Thompson’s widow gives Harry an old murder book detailing the murder of John Hilton who was killed in 1990 in a deserted alley known to be a hotbed of drug activity. At first, Harry believes solving finding the murderer will honor his old mentor, and he brings the case to Detective Renée Ballard, his tough, independent, unofficial partner who works the Hollywood Division late shift. As Harry and Renée dig deeper into the investigation, they wonder if Thompson wanted to solve the case—or prevent others from finding the truth.

Meanwhile, Renée is butting heads with her nemesis, Captain Olivias, over the case of a homeless man killed in a case of arson, and Bosch crosses sides to help Mickey Haller exonerate a defendant accused of murdering a popular judge.

Their work brings them closer together than ever, but their vulnerability may cause them to lower their guard and put them in danger.

Michael Connelly’s Harry Bosch series has long been among my top five, and I love the introduction of Detective Renée Ballard. This is her third book, the second in which Bosch and Ballard are paired. Ballard’s character suffuses a new energy into the series and the synergy between Bosch and Ballard allows Connelly to present Bosch in a different light. He’s still irascible and intractable yet he is also more collaborative.

Besides the wonderful characters Connelly has created in Bosch and Ballard, his novels are heavily researched and informed by current police procedure and infused with the essence of Los Angeles.

In The Night Fire, the three primary mysteries are interesting, and are surprisingly resolved. The only off-note in the book was a scene in which Ballard was called out to a suspicious death. Certain details signaled that the death was unresolved and that Ballard would return to the mystery, but it wasn’t mentioned again. That, however, is a small complaint for an incredibly entertaining book. Connelly’s mysteries are realistic, gritty though not gory, and fun to read.