Review: The Night Fire by Michael Connelly

Official Thrillerfix Review

17 October 2019

Release Date: October 22, 2019 |  Review by Gavin Reese

“Connelly steps on the gas and expertly weaves a series of crimes that only investigators with the tenacity and unrelenting moral code of Harry Bosch and Reneé Ballard could uncover." – Gavin Reese

With this month’s release of The Night Fire, Michael Connelly continues to prove he sits among the greatest crime novelists of our time.


The synopsis...


"When he first became a homicide detective, Harry Bosch had an inspiring mentor who just passed away. He taught Harry to take the work personally and light a relentless fire in the pursuit of justice for murder victims. After the funeral services, his widow gives Bosch a thirty-year-old murder book, an unsolved and forgotten killing of a troubled young man murdered in a drug alley. Bosch shows the murder book to Renée Ballard, who agrees to help. Neither of them understand what they’re in for. 


As the bond between Bosch and Ballard tightens and the danger around them escalates, they soon face a troubling question: Did Harry’s beloved mentor steal the murder book to keep working the case in retirement, or to guarantee it stayed cold and unsolved?"

I have to start this review with some context. Cops are overwhelmingly Type-A personalities. If you ask ten how to accomplish a task, you’ll get at least twelve answers, each completely self-assured theirs is the best of all possible options. Retired cops like me tend to throw around even stronger opinions. With that out of the way, I can say without hesitation that Michael Connelly so accurately and succinctly portrays his characters that I have trouble believing he never worked on the job. The actions, thought patterns, and motives of his cops and criminals exude authenticity. My heart leapt with their victories, my pulse quickened when danger lurked around them, and I could smell the suspects’ fear when consequence finally came calling.


Despite my advocacy for authenticity in crime writing, Connelly never let the story drag with procedural details. The life of big city detectives is bared here for all to see, especially the tough, seemingly impossible choices they face to simultaneously uphold the law while staying within departmental policy just enough to keep their shields. The realities of work as a detective are never as simple as idealistic patrol rookies and most of the public believe; despite what we have to swear in court, we rarely, if ever, get a chance to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.


Cops share a few universal fears, and this story opens with one of the worst: misreading a crime scene as an accident. Connelly steps on the gas from there, and expertly weaves a series of crimes that only investigators with the tenacity and unrelenting moral code of Harry Bosch and Reneé Ballard could uncover. Motivated by an unhealthy (and authentic) practice of making every case personal, The Night Fire title describes at least five key aspects of this tale.


This is Connelly’s 33rd novel and the 22nd featuring Harry Bosch. Despite that, this reads perfectly well as a standalone. The reader gets more than enough intel on both detectives to enjoy this story. If you’re new to Connelly and his characters, there’s no time like the present to join the party. The first one will only make you hungry for more.


Want more Connelly? Click here to view his complete catalog.


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THRILLERFIX ALL-STAR REVIEWER: A former law enforcement officer, Gavin Reese wrote his first six crime thrillers between patrol shifts. An author, thriller aficionado, and podcast host, Gavin has interviewed some of the top names in the genre.  If you enjoy novels with authentic cops, crimes, and criminals, you'll want to follow Gavin Reese's book recommendations here on the Thrillerfix blog.