... extraordinary ... This is the fourth novel Connelly has written about Ballard, the third in which Bosch plays a significant role, and they just keep getting better. He’s one of the best in the business at writing about investigations and creating intense suspense, but the relationship between Ballard and Bosch—a professional friendship that grows out of two brilliant minds dedicated to the same difficult but important work—is the cherry on top.
... outstanding ... Connelly’s affinity for creating strong, realistic women characters shines in Renée. She believes in Harry, respects him and considers him her mentor, but she also is her own person, willing to go out on a limb for an investigation, sometimes putting herself in harm. She learns with each case, and, like Harry, can make mistakes. Both are loners, but both also willing to open up to another person. Connelly wisely doesn’t make their platonic partnership always smooth, but quite realistic. As much as The Dark Hours is about Harry and Renée, the story also is about the changes in police work, how racial justice protests, the Jan. 6 insurrection and the pandemic have affected police officers, decimating morale and questioning their career choices ... Connelly has successfully delivered a generational shift since he first introduced Renée with The Late Show in 2017, illustrating a change while keeping Harry vital and important. We’ve said before that Connelly is the most consistently superior living crime fiction author. The Dark Hours just reinforces that.
... the duo takes on two cases that’ll keep readers reading well into the night ... Connelly weaves in a number of twists and turns to go with his signature nail-biting suspense ... Michael Connelly might be the only author on the planet who can touch on a number of timely, hot-button issues...without offending, angering, or losing a single reader, regardless of their personal political beliefs. His fact-based approach, rather than touching on his own opinions, will no doubt be a welcomed sight to readers who’ve been turned off by other writers who’ve taken to injecting their own views into their fictional stories. That, of course, is not to say that Connelly turns a blind eye to such topics ... Connelly stays clear of obvious clichés, focusing instead on creative new ways to continue fleshing out his co-protagonists while giving them tougher cases to crack. In the end, he’s managed to churn out yet another page-turning, suspense-filled story that, while rooted in reality, should entertain a diverse body of readers ... yet another reminder that we’re witnessing one of the all-time greats . . . who’s shown absolutely no signs of slowing down anytime soon.
Connelly’s unparalleled knowledge of police procedure and forensics is on fine display, but where The Dark Hours truly excels is in its assessment and portrayal of the LAPD’s demoralized ranks ... In the aftermath of January 6, the challenges and choices Connelly presents for his characters, especially Ballard, create genuine suspense. The Dark Hours is the most riveting of Connelly’s Renée Ballard novels, and a hopeful signpost for the future of the police procedura.
It’s a masterstroke on Michael Connelly’s part to bring together two such fascinating characters and make such a success of it ... As usual, Los Angeles is an extra character here and this time we’re directed away from the glitzy tourist areas to uncover the city’s beating, battered heart. In these strange times, some of us have steered away from novels that depict what has been happening in the past year or so. A fearless Connelly jumps straight in, pulling us along in the undertow and somehow the experience is both pleasurable and painful in equal measure. The Dark Hours is a book of our times—I urge you to read it.
There is perhaps no author working today who writes a police procedural quite like Michael Connelly. His language is just gritty enough to provide the right amount of credibility needed for readers to believe that they are listening to actual discussions that might take place both on the street and back at the squad room. He also is a master of dialogue who infuses his characters with enough straight talk, most likely taken from his years as a reporter, that it instantly creates three-dimensional, realistic figures on the page ... an outstanding book for loyal readers of Connelly’s work and viewers of Amazon Prime’s sorely missed 'Bosch' series.
Bosch is one of the best fictional detectives ever to hit the printed page ... The Dark Hours is a typically well-told Connelly effort. He interweaves the murder and sexual assault investigations effectively, never allowing us to confuse the details of the cases, and Ballard continues to work as a character who maintains our interest. We want her to succeed, to do well, even as we hold our breath at her questionable decisions. Relentless pursuit of justice is the iron rod that runs through every Connelly procedural, and The Dark Hours is no exception. As long as he keeps writing them, we’ll keep reading them.
The fourth Renée Ballard and Harry Bosch novel is the best yet, both because Ballard has evolved into one of crime fiction’s richest, most complex characters and because Connelly takes an unflinching look at policing in the post–George Floyd era ... As always, Connelly salts the story with intriguing details of how detectives follow a convoluted investigative trail, but here he adds a deeply troubling subtext: Can good cops survive in a system so deeply broken?
... stellar ... Meticulous about actual police procedure, Connelly makes the fundamentals of detective work engrossing while providing plenty of suspense and action, including one genuinely shocking scene of violence involving Ballard. He also excels at imbuing his narratives with social commentary, a talent showcased in this entry ... Along the way to a surprising, even hopeful ending, Connelly avoids polemics while exploring such issues as internal disaffection among the police (including Ballard’s ambivalence about her career), misogyny and domestic violence, and the political divide that resulted in the January 6 insurrection at the Capitol. This is a masterpiece.
As usual in this stellar series, the path to the last act is paved with false leads, interdepartmental squabbles, and personal betrayals, and the structure sometimes sways in the breeze. But no one who follows Ballard and Bosch to the end will be disappointed. A bracing test of the maxim that 'the department always comes first. The department always wins.'