The Late Show

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In this book, Michael Connelly introduces a new character: Detective Renée Ballard. (It says this right on the front cover.) It's a page turner, but feels a little padded. 405 pages, could have easily been cut back to 300. But I suppose that's what Connelly's book contract demanded he churn out.

The book's title refers to Renée's work shift: the early A.M. hours. That's where she was stuck after losing a sexual harassment complaint against her one-time superior, Lt. Olivas. Which loss was incurred due to betrayal by her partner, Det. Chastain. She's professionally moribund.

But there's always cop stuff to do in LA. Three cases: (1) an elderly lady reports a stolen credit card; (2) a transvestite hooker gets badly beaten up and left for dead; and (3, the biggie) a mass shooting at a crowded Hollywood dance club. Renée is dragged into the latter while at the hospital checking on the nearly-dead hooker; one of the victims is brought there in the (futile) attempt to save her life.

Renée exhibits, unsurprisingly, a Bosch-like devotion to dig out the perpetrators in all these cases. Up to and including investigatory behavior that would get her shitcanned if the department found out about it. She seldom sleeps, loves to paddleboard in the Pacific, has a rescue dog, and (small spoiler) finds herself in mortal peril on one occasion. (It's not a spoiler, since this book is "introducing" her character, to observe that she escapes and prevails.)

Not that it matters, but there's a weird (but amusing) interplay here: one of the club murder victims is an innocent employee, a waitress looking to break into acting. One of her credits is "Girl in Bar" on the TV show "Bosch". Oh yeah, Renée thinks, that's the show based on the exploits of that now-retired detective.

So yes, I'm reading a fiction book where TV shows have fictionalized versions of its already-fictional characters. But there is a Bosch TV show in our "real" world…

Connelly does this on occasion. It's funny, but it also makes my head hurt. Is this the sort of thing Jorge Luis Borges did?

Not that it matters either, but I often "cast" book characters in my mind while reading. Initially, I envisioned Renée as being played by Stephanie Beatriz, who plays Rosa Diaz on "Brooklyn Nine-Nine". That would be fine, but as the 405 pages of the book went by, I kept seeing her as … don't laugh … Sarah Huckabee Sanders.

OK, you can laugh. Mrs. Salad did.