Both hunter and hunted

Both hunter and hunted

Right from Edgar Allan Poe to John Grisham and Dan Brown, American crime fiction has made a distinctive mark in investigative literature the world...

Right from Edgar Allan Poe to John Grisham and Dan Brown, American crime fiction has made a distinctive mark in investigative literature the world over with innumerable gripping dark tales of murder, rape and treachery, keeping readers on edge with suspense throughout.

Michael Connelly, no doubt one of the most popular crime writers of America today, keeps the readers engaged till the very end of his latest crime thriller ‘The Late Show’.

A young and unyielding detective, who is put on a permanent nightshift as part of disciplinary action by the Los Angeles Police Department for no fault of hers, is not the one to let things go off her hands so easily.

As a detective, Renee Ballard has seen the dark world, its ins and outs, felons, drag kings, crossdressers, mafia dons and a lot of other bastards. As a woman, she loves her frail and small-sized grandma, pet dog Lola, her lonely surfing and her short yet unwinding sleep inside the tent on the beach.

During one of those mundane graveyard shifts, she stumbles upon a case of a transgender being captivated, assaulted and then let to die in a public place. Even as she is busy investigating the case from many angles, comes another case, just a little while after, of a mass shootout at a club in Hollywood area with one of the victims being taken to the same hospital where Ballard is on her job.

Though Ballard is kept away from the club shootout case by her former colleague Olivas who bears a grudge against her for some unsavoury incident in the past, she resolves to follow it up.

Even as her pursuit for the assaulter of the transgender Ramona Ramone gets murkier, she closely follows the Dancer’s shootout case and gets nonplussed by the way the case is moving. To her utter dismay, she finds out the involvement of a cop in the shootout that claimed five lives and decides to get the cat out of the bag.

Ballard, during her investigations, gets abducted, drugged, assaulted and captivated by the perpetrator she is after. In a fight that follows in the dark room of an ‘upside-down’ house, Ballard stabs the captor with the splinter of wood multiple times, instantly killing him.

Meanwhile, one of her earlier partners who is part of the investigation of the Dancers shootout, gets killed by an unknown assailant. Shattered by the news and being faced with a department enquiry and a scandal, Ballard is not deterred. She has her way. She follows her instincts, braves the treachery hiding in her own department, moves forward, gets hold of evidence and finally nabs the culprit, a detective in the same department.

Apparently, she is steered clear of charges, gets invite to join the day team and even get kudos for her job.
But, Ballard is not the one to be easily coaxed. She has come the hard way.

The Late Show, though not a magnum opus or anything far different from other contemporary works of the same genre, can keep an average reader glued to the pages, with his lucid narration of events and use of simple imageries.

For an Indian reader, who is so accustomed of myriad Bollywood and other regional blockbusters, the way the novel moves is not very unfamiliar. The way the turns of events unfolds in the novel is anybody’s guess.

The technique is age-old, characters very filmi, sequence quite expected. But the mention of Mumbai call centre executive Irfan Khan and the coroner of the Dancers shootout case Jayalalithaa Panneerselvam (yes, you read it right, two ‘a’s at the end!) is something that makes you smile!

For lovers of crime fiction, The Late Show is worth a read.

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