The Night Fire, Michael Connelly, author; Titus Welliver, Christine Lakin, narrators
Renee Ballard and Harry Bosch have teamed up once again. In this series, because the main character is really Renee, a female, the narrative seems to have gotten a little trite. The dialog is sometimes too conversational about meaningless things. I don’t think people reading mysteries really care much about the detective’s dog, but I do understand, that part of the story serves to explain that Renee lives on the beach in a tent,with her dog. That too, is a bit over the top for a young, female detective’s odd lifestyle. It would probably be unbelievable if she was a male detective, unless he was undercover. This serves to show that Ballard is an independent and supposedly strong minded individual. Because Ballard is a female in a man’s world, she has been treated unfairly and has to fight her way to be accepted. As a result of past events, involving power struggles with higher ups, she works the murder shift at night.
When a homeless man is burned alive in his tent, Renee is called in to investigate. The powers that be dismiss the event as an accident, but she is unconvinced as there are other cases that seem to converge with respect to clues, motives and suspects that she is suddenly made aware of. When Harry’s mentor, a well respected police officer, passes away, his wife discovers a murder book in his desk. It is about an unsolved drug murder.
Both the homeless man and the unsolved murder case involve the same law firm. Then when Renee is called to investigate the suicide of a troubled 11 year old, this too seems related in some way to the other two cases she is considering. It seems there is a law firm that is involved with each of these cases being investigated. Then a judge is murdered and more coincidences are uncovered. Have they been looking for the wrong kind of suspect?
Because Bosch is having health problems, he relies a lot on Renee to do the grunt work. They actually work together unofficially since he is no longer art of the force. Bosch is pushing 70 and has recently been diagnosed with Chronic Myeloid Leukemia, a result of being exposed to radiation while working on a case. Although he is expected to respond well to treatment, he is recovering from knee surgery as well, so he is not in great shape. He engages his step brother Mickey Haller to help in his effort to sue to get the police department to pay for his treatments so he is not bankrupted and can leave some kind of legacy to his daughter.
Bosch is considered an anomaly and is not well liked by some on the force because he often helps in court cases for his step brother, Mickey Haller who defends those who are often wrongfully incarcerated based on inadequate evidence, or those who have been victims of miscarriages of justice. The cops and the prosecutors don’t care that he may be helping the innocent victim; they want a conviction because they have put in the time and effort to get it. Ballard is an anomaly because she is resented as a female and has to scratch her way up the ladder, often making enemies on the way.
In an attempt to cover progressive causes, there are issues about the abuse of women, problems in the LGBTQ community, drug deals gone bad and bad cops.
Personally, I prefer the Harry Bosch novels without Renee Ballard, but this one is good for entertainment as an audiobook while driving or as a vacation read.