Posted by: Jeanie F | July 31, 2017

The Late Show by Michael Connelly

Still enjoying my “summer lite” reading kick, I was excited to see that Michael Connelly has published a new thriller. I’m a huge Harry Bosch fan, and have also enjoyed the appearances of Bosch’s half-brother, the Lincoln Lawyer, Mickey Haller. I was ready to see what Connelly could do with a new protagonist – especially when I read that the new star in his stable was a woman.

And my girl, Janet Maslin of The New York Times, sang high praise:

“The Late Show” introduces a terrific female character: Detective Renée Ballard. Connelly has never had much success writing memorable women in supporting roles, but this new star is a beauty.

Maslin’s not the only one. The LA TimesUSA Today, and Kirkus Reviews to name just a few, have sung the book’s praises, and I’m not usually one to argue with them . . . BUT –

While I agree that there is real potential in this spunky heroine, there are problems with the story – not the plot, but the presentation. As Paula A. Woods aptly notes in her review for the LA Times,

Launching a new series and protagonist is hard work, and with so many characters, settings and departmental undercurrents to navigate, “The Late Show’s” seams show at times. The resolution of the Ramona Ramone case [one of several plot lines] leaves lingering questions some readers may not be accustomed to experiencing. More significantly, the denouement of the Dancers murders, while cleverly executed, opens some huge gaps in understanding the shooter’s motives that one hopes get resolved in future novels.

And this seems to be the problem. This is an ambitious novel – perhaps too ambitious a plot (or, more correctly, plots) to introduce a brand new character. While Connelly can be counted on to write a great detective story, he seems to labor over getting the true dimensions of  Ballard established early on. Moments of action are dragged down by the need to fill-in previously undisclosed aspects of her character, past history, or other personal information. There are times when it feels like Connelly is free-writing filler until he hits on something to move the story along. Definitely not what I expect from his usual tight action scenes. I found myself skimming long expository passages in order to get back to the plot.

Having said all this, I expect that the next time we see Ballard – and I do hope we will – most of this back story can be left behind, allowing Connelly to entertain in the way that he does so masterfully.

Grade: B




  1. Sounds good. There’s enough summer left!

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