After my recent disappoint with the newest Gamache novels, it's a pleasure to see that Connelly continues to master the mystery genre. There are two primary cases, which both start with Bosch, but he quickly brings in Ballard for help from the inside.
Like The Crossing, The Night Fire sees Bosch teaming up with his half-brother Haller in a way that, again, has Bosch at odds with his fellow officers and sometimes himself. While in the great tradition of playing fast-and-loose with the rules, Ballard starts working a cold case with Bosch, a case to which she isn't assigned. I'll admit that I found the Haller case to be, um... far-fetched? But Connelly's bullet-paced writing had my disbelief thoroughly suspended while I was in the moment.
The relationship between our two protagonists is done impeccably. Bosch has trouble not acting like a dad and Ballard doesn't like working with someone else, but they both learn from each other and feel like a natural fit. Having both in the same novel allows Connelly to highlight some of the differences between the two, maybe as an answer to critics who felt that Ballard was just a female-Bosch.
Connelly seems to be bringing Ballard into the Bosch novels so that at some point she can take over. It's sad, but Connelly did say that Bosch is a character living in real-time, and his recovery from knee surgery is a solid reminder that Bosch's days investigating may be numbered. While I don't want to see him go, I feel confident that Ballard is qualified to carry his banner.