The Night Fire by Michael Connelly: A review

Harry Bosch is less of a jerk in this latest book than he has been in the past. Is it possible that he is finally mellowing as he nears 70? After all, he has been retired from the LAPD now for four years, time to chill out a bit. 

Or maybe it is the influence of his latest "partner" Renee Ballard. Ballard isn't really his partner, of course. She is a 30ish detective with LAPD. She works the midnight shift known as the "Late Show" and she has hooked up with Harry before to work cases. He has become something of a mentor for her and she is certainly a worthy successor to his years with the police department. She is every bit as obsessed as he ever was.

One of Harry's early mentors has recently died and the opening scene of the book finds him attending the funeral. At the reception later, the widow gives him something that her husband had taken with him when he retired from the department. It is the murder book for an unsolved murder that took place more than twenty years before. There is no indication of why he took it or whether he was working to solve the cold case.

Renee, meanwhile, wakes in her tent on the beach where she sleeps to find that another beach person nearby had burned alive in his tent when a heater tipped over igniting the structure. Since she is the first detective on the scene, she takes charge of the potential crime scene but soon the guys from Arson show up and take over. They are ready to write it off as an unfortunate accident, but Renee isn't so sure. She finds anomalies that she thinks require investigation.

Connelly even manages to work his other famous character, the Lincoln Lawyer Mickey Haller, into the mix when Harry helps him out with a pro bono case he had been assigned to defend involving the murder of a judge. Turns out his client didn't do it and Harry helps him prove that prompting the ire of the detectives who had worked the case. Another reason for Harry to be persona non grata with his old department.

As they work these cases together, they come to realize that there is a connection between the death on the beach and the case Haller was defending. Once they put two and two together, the ultimate solution becomes easier.

As for the cold case Harry inherited, he finds to his disappointment that his mentor's feet were definitely made of clay, but Harry finds a way to finally solve the case and bring justice to the victim.

This is a complicated plot involving the three cases, but Connelly as always manages to keep us on track with his step by step procedural. He really has no peer that I know of when it comes to police procedurals. Having read all the Bosch books and all the Ballard books, their "partnership" makes a lot of sense to me and I trust Connelly will continue with it. That being said, this book would also work perfectly well, I think, as a standalone.

My rating: 4 of 5 stars  


  1. My understanding is that this is something like the twenty second book in the series. That is an impressive number of books. It is also a challenge to keep a character interesting over that many books. If i ever gabs this a go, I would read the books in order.

    1. Reading the series in order certainly gives one a deeper understanding of the characters. We have watched them develop over the years. Still, for those readers who don't have the time or patience to read them all in order, this one could work as a standalone.

  2. My husband is waiting to read this one. Long wait list at the library, of course.


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