August 22, 2017


Book review (fiction): 'The Last Show' by Michael Connelly (Moira Macdonald, 8/19/17,  The Seattle Times)

"The Late Show" brings the debut of a new one: LAPD Detective Renee Ballard, who works the night shift at Hollywood Station -- called "the late show" by those who work it.

The inspiration for Ballard, said Connelly, "just sort of fell into my lap." For his 30th book, written just after he turned 60, he wanted to do "something a little different, maybe challenge myself in some way."

As part of his Amazon series, "Bosch," he met several LAPD detectives as consultants. One of them, Mitzi Roberts, was a veteran of "the late show" and had stories to tell.

"I knew I wanted to write about somebody on the late show because it's so entertaining," Connelly said. "When you're a detective on the midnight shift, you don't have a specialty; you roll on any time they need a detective, whether it's big or small. That variety really appealed to me.

"The more I talked to (Roberts), got to know her, saw her in court a couple of times, in crime scenes, I was inspired by her personally, because she's a very determined and fierce detective. Those are the words I was hoping to get into the character of Renee Ballard."

Ballard shares many of Roberts' qualities -- including, said Connelly, the real-life detective's habit of paddleboarding at dawn after finishing her shift, with her dog watching over her belongings on the beach. But the character has her own backstory, one that Connelly says he's still developing.

"I'd been kind of gathering string, casting a net with her for a few years," he said, noting that he doesn't formally outline or write a character biography. "If you read the book, the biography's really incomplete. I like to seed the first story of a character with what a reader would need, but I want to leave stuff to explore in the future."

In "The Late Show," we learn just enough to tantalize us about the cool, tough Ballard.

Posted by at August 22, 2017 5:16 AM