Book Review: Not All Fires Should Be Extinguished

The Night Fire is a crime novel written by Michael Connelly and reunites his most popular characters. Retired LAPD Detective Harry Bosch is working with current LAPD Detective Renee Ballard on a case that was apparently in the unauthorized custody his mentor, who recently died. Ballard herself is working on a disturbing murder of a homeless man who had been burned alive. The Lincoln Lawyer himself, Mickey Haller, is defending a man accused of killing a district judge in a park. It’s quite the free-for-all of homicidal behavior in this one.

It will come as no surprise to say that I enjoyed this novel. I appreciate that Connelly has avoided the obvious cliché of having Bosch as some grandmaster mentor of homicide investigation to Renee. Ballard has plenty of experience and talent to offer of her own in spite of the lack of years compared to Bosch. Bosch is also having a personal crisis involving his health, but that ends up being of some use during his investigation. He also gets involved in Haller’s case when the client may actually be innocent, and Bosch wants to make sure that a real killer answers for the judge’s murder.

The title refers to the inner fire that burns in all of these protagonists that keeps them motivated to seek the truth in whatever crime they are investigating. Bosch and Ballard both have challenges in their professional and personal lives that potentially distract them from that goal, but they still focus on their various investigations and pursue the answers relentlessly.

Connelly will likely maintain a consistent quality in his works. It’s fun to see what direction his characters take, particularly Harry Bosch as he continues to navigate his new retirement status which competes with his desire to take more murderers off the street. Connelly has assured his fans that Bosch is not likely to disappear from the canon for quite a while. Also, he created someone worth following with Renée Ballard.

The Night Fire does have quite a lot going on, but Connelly does tie up the threads pretty nicely. So the streets of his version of Los Angeles are just a little safer now.

The next literary indulgence will involve a return to 221B Baker Street London inn 1897. Sherlock Holmes and Dr. John Watson will have their own crime to solve within Philip Purser-Hallard’s The Spider Web.

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