A new character for Michael Connelly – female detective Renee Ballard – and one who never really comes to life. She has a dog she likes but hardly ever sees. She goes paddling in the Pacific on a surf board. She was booted onto the night shift because she started a sexual harassment suit against a senior officer. And it just doesn’t seem to matter.
I think it’s the blunt functionality of the prose. It’s more than readable, and the book cracks along at a great pace, but it’s newspaper writing – which is where Connelly started: as a crime reporter in Los Angeles. It’s fine for a newspaper story, which is the recounting of facts, but it works against getting inside a character. I have the same complaint about Connelly’s Harry Bosch. He does things, but you observe rather than feel them. That never concerned me much; it was the mysteries Bosch solved that I liked. But with Renee Ballard, I wanted more of what she was thinking and feeling. And it’s not really there. As with Bosch we observe, from a distance. The binoculars never get turned the right way round.