Bosch teams up with Det. Ballard for the first time in Dark Sacred Night: See an exclusive preview
Bosch is back, and this time. he’s got a new partner.
In Michael Connelly’s latest, Dark Sacred Night, beloved (and retired) LAPD detective Harry Bosch will team up with Renee Ballard for the first time. Ballard is working the night beat again as the novel begins, and returns to Hollywood Station in the early hours only to find a stranger rifling through old file cabinets. The intruder is Bosch, working a cold case that has gotten under his skin: the death of 15-year-old Daisy Clayton, a runaway on the streets of Hollywood who was brutally murdered and her body left in a dumpster like so much trash. The pair join forces to find out what happened to Daisy and finally bring her killer to justice.
It was only last year that Connelly introduced Ballard, a fierce and fascinating new protagonist who instantly emerged as a reader favorite. Bosch, meanwhile, is a grizzled veteran by now; Dark Sacred Night will mark the 21st novel to center on him. But fans always finish eager to come back for more.
Below, you can see the cover for Dark Sacred Night as well as an excerpt, exclusive to EW. Pre-order the book ahead of its Oct. 30 release here.
Excerpt from Dark Sacred Night, by Michael Connelly
Ballard had her badge out and up when the door was opened. The man standing there looked concerned but not surprised. He was in sweats and one hand was in the front warmer of the pullover hoodie. Despite the loose clothing, Ballard could tell he was a “better living through science” guy. He had the pronounced neck veins and hard eyes of a ’roid rider. His brown hair was slicked back over his head. His green eyes were glassy. He was shorter than Ballard but heavily muscled under the loose clothing.
“Mr. Bechtel? Theodore Bechtel?”
“It’s Ted. Yes?”
“I’m Detective Ballard, LAPD. I would like to ask you a few questions. Can I come in?”
Bechtel didn’t answer. He stepped back to allow her room to enter. Ballard walked in, turning slightly sideways as she passed him so she didn’t lose direct sight of him. She considered him to be a burglar at this point. She didn’t want to give him the chance to add assault or murder to the list.
Bechtel reached over to close the door after she entered. She stopped him.
“Can we leave that open, if you don’t mind?” she said. “A couple of my colleagues will be coming.”
“Uh, I guess so.”
She turned in the circular entry area to look at him and accept further direction. But Bechtel just looked at her.
“You’ve come for the Warhols, right?” he asked.
She wasn’t expecting that. She hesitated, then composed a response.
“Are you saying you have them?” she asked.
“I do,” he said. “They’re in my study. Where they’re nice and safe.”
He nodded as if to confirm a job well done.
“Can you show me?”
“Of course. Follow me.”
Bechtel led Ballard down a short hallway into a home office. Sure enough, the three red lips prints were leaning against the wall. Bechtel spread his hands as if to present them.
“I think those are Marilyn Monroe’s,” he said.
“Excuse me?” Ballard responded.
“The lips. Warhol used Marilyn’s lips. I read it online.”
“Mr. Bechtel, I need you to explain why these are in your house and not on the wall of the house across the street.”
“I took them for safekeeping.”
“Safekeeping. Who told you to do that?”
“Well, nobody told me to do it. I just knew somebody needed to do it.”
“Why is that?”
“Well, because everybody knew she had them in there and they were going to get stolen.”
“So, you stole them first?”
“No, I didn’t steal them. I told you. I brought them over here for safekeeping. To keep them for the rightful heir. I hear she had a niece in New York who gets everything.”
“That’s the story you want to go with? That this was some kind of neighborly act of kindness?”
“It’s what happened.”
Ballard stepped back from him and took stock of what she knew and what she had in terms of witnesses and evidence.
“What do you do for a living, Mr. Bechtel?”
“Nutrition. I sell supplements. I have a store down in the flats.”
“Do you own this house?”
“How long have you been up here?”
“Three months. No, four.”
“How well did you know the woman who lived across the street?”
“I didn’t. Not really. Just to say hello to. That sort of thing.”
“I think at this point I need to advise you of your rights.”
“What? Are you arresting me?”
He looked genuinely surprised.
“Mr. Bechtel, you have the right to remain silent. Anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law. You have the right to an attorney to represent you. If you can’t afford an attorney, one will be provided for you. Do you understand these rights as I have explained them?”
“I don’t understand. I was being a good neighbor.”
“Do you understand your rights as I have recited them to you?”
“Yes, shit, I understand. But this is completely unnecessary. I have a business. I didn’t do—”
“Sit down in that chair, please.”
Ballard pointed to a chair that was against the wall. She kept pointing until Bechtel reluctantly sat down.
“This is amazing,” he said. “You try to do a good thing and you get hassled for it.”
Ballard pulled her phone and speed-dialed the watch office. Before knocking on Bechtel’s door she had requested backup because Felsen and Torborg had been sent to another call while she had been down the street looking at video. Now she was facing a situation where she had to make a felony arrest without backup. Her call wasn’t answered for six rings. While she waited she casually took a few steps farther back from Bechtel so she would have more time to react should he decide he didn’t want to be arrested.
Finally, her call was answered by a voice she didn’t recognize.
“This is two-whiskey-twenty-five, where’s my backup?”
“Uh . . . I don’t see that here on the board. You sure you called for backup?”
“Yes, fifteen minutes ago. Send it. Now. No delay. And keep this connection open.”
Ballard barked the address into the phone, then refocused on Bechtel. She would find out about the missing backup later.
Bechtel was sitting with both hands in the front pocket of his hoodie.
“I want you to take your hands out of the hoodie and keep them where I can see them,” she said.
Bechtel complied but shook his head as though this whole thing was a misunderstanding.
“Are you really arresting me?”
“Do you want to explain why you climbed over the roof of the house across the street, broke in on the back deck and took three artworks worth several hundred thousand dollars?”
Bechtel didn’t speak. He seemed surprised by her knowledge.
“Yeah, there’s video,” Ballard said.
“Well, I had to get in there somehow,” he said. “Otherwise, somebody else would’ve and then the paintings would be gone.”
“They’re prints, actually.”
“Whatever. I didn’t steal them.”
“Did you take anything else besides the prints?”
“No, why would I do that? I just cared about the paintings. The prints, I mean.”
Ballard had to decide whether to cuff Bechtel to neutralize the threat, or wait for backup, which now might be another ten to fifteen minutes away. It was a long time to wait with a suspect not fully controlled.
“The district attorney’s office will decide whether a crime was committed. But I will be arresting you. Right now I want you—”
“This is such bullshit—”
“To get up from the chair and face the wall. I want you to kneel on the floor and lace your fingers behind your head.”
Bechtel stood up but didn’t move any further.
“Kneel down, sir.”
“No, I’m not kneeling down. I didn’t do anything.”
“You are under arrest, sir. Kneel down on the ground and lace your—”
She didn’t finish. Bechtel started moving toward her. It was crystal clear in the moment that if Ballard pulled her gun she would probably have to use it and it would most likely be the end of her career, no matter how justified a shooting would be.
But what wasn’t clear was whether Bechtel was coming at her or trying simply to walk around her and leave the room. He moved as if heading toward the door but then suddenly pivoted toward her. Ballard tried to use his advantage against him. He was heavily muscled through the wonder of chemistry but was top-heavy, with a bulky chest and upper arms. The undercarriage was small and undeveloped.
As Bechtel advanced Ballard placed a well-directed kick to his groin, then took two steps back and to the side as he doubled over and lurched forward, emitting a sharp groan. She grabbed his right wrist and elbow, pushed the wrist down and pulled the elbow up as she pivoted him over her leg. He went down face-first and she dropped all 120 pounds of her weight through her knees onto the small of his back.
“Don’t f—ing move!”
But he did. He groaned like a monster and attempted to rise, doing a push-up off the floor. Ballard drove a knee into his ribs and he dropped to the floor again with an oof. She quickly grabbed the cuffs off her belt and clasped one over his right wrist before he realized he was being cuffed. He struggled against the next one but Ballard had the leverage. She pulled the wrists together against his spine and closed the second cuff around the left. Bechtel was now controlled.
Ballard got up, exhausted but exhilarated that she had taken the bigger, stronger man to ground.
“You’re going to jail, motherf—er.”
“This is all a big mistake. Come on, this is wrong.”
“Tell it to the judge. They love hearing bullshit from guys like you.”
“You’ll regret this.”
“Believe me, I already do. But it doesn’t change anything. You’re going to jail.”