The Dark Hours
March 16, 2022

Book Review

The Dark Hours

reviewed by Barbara Saffer


LAPD Detective Renee Ballard worked in the elite Robbery Homicide Division until she accused her boss of sexual harassment and got transferred to the night shift. On the graveyard shift Ballard gets to start investigations, but then has to pass them off to the day watch. Renee resents this and often finds a way to continue the investigations, to the chagrin of her superiors.

On New Year’s Eve 2020 Ballard and her temporary partner, Detective Lisa Moore of the Sex Crimes Unit, are sheltering beneath an underpass while Angelenos follow the tradition of firing guns into the air. Falling bullets often shatter windshields, so the detectives are staying out of the way while they anticipate a call about the Midnight Men, a team of two rapists known to strike on holiday eves.

Shortly after midnight, Ballard and Moore are called to the scene of a death. Auto shop owner Javier Raffa, who hosts a neighborhood party every New Year’s Eve, was shot in the head. Renee would normally turn the Raffa case over to West Bureau Homicide, but they’re overtaxed so Renee gets to keep the case for the time being.

As it turns out, a shell casing connects Raffa’s homicide to the unsolved murder of rapper Albert Lee ten years ago, a case investigated by Detective Harry Bosch. Bosch worked for the LAPD for over thirty years, but was always a maverick, and was finally pushed out. Bosch now works independently, looking into cold cases. Ballard contacts Bosch – who’s her mentor and friend – about the deaths of Raffa and Lee, and the duo decide to investigate the homicides together.  

Renee and Harry discover that Raffa had been a member of the Las Palmas gang, but borrowed $25,000 to buy himself out. As it happens, victim Albert Lee had also borrowed a large sum of money, and the detectives speculate that the debts connect the murdered men with their killer.

Meanwhile, on New Year’s Day, a woman named Cindy Carpenter reports that two men raped her the night before, and the modus operandi proves they’re the Midnight Men. Ballard has to pursue the rapists on her own because Detective Lisa Moore has sneaked off for a vacation with her boyfriend. This lackadaisical attitude has become common in the LAPD due to the Covid pandemic, public vilification of the cops, violent protests, and the defund the police movement. The malaise hasn’t spread to Renee though, who works day and night to capture criminals.

Meticulous police work by Ballard and Bosch uncovers clues about the Raffa and Lee shootings, and a man walking his dog gives Renee a lead on the tag team rapists. Ballard’s fervent pursuit of the perpetrators puts her life in danger, and flouting the rules gets her in trouble with her lieutenant. As the murder and rape cases head toward resolution Ballard considers leaving the LAPD and working with Bosch full-time. Will a visit from the chief of police change Renee’s mind?  

On the light side, Ballard adopts a chihuahua mix from Wags and Walks. The rescue pooch, named Pinto, goes paddle-boarding with Renee on her days off and stays in 24-hour doggy daycare when Renee is working. Ballard also meets an attractive EMT called Garrett Single, who helps Renee out in a pinch and invites her to a firehouse dinner. Is there romance in Renee’s future? 

This is an excellent thriller, and I look forward to seeing Ballard and Bosch work together again.

The Dark Hours available at:


Police Procedural Features