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Michael Connelly’s ‘Dark Sacred Night’ smartly pairs Harry Bosch, Renée Ballard

Michael Connelly.

Michael Connelly. | Little, Brown

Michael Connelly has earned his place in the pantheon of great crime fiction writers by creating characters people care about and are eager to keep coming back to.

In “Dark Sacred Night” (Little, Brown, $29), out Tuesday, he brings together two of his best: Harry Bosch, his original series lead, and Renée Ballard, the Los Angeles police detective who debuted in last year’s “The Late Show.”

In his earlier books, Connelly’s female characters mostly didn’t measure up to his leading men. But Ballard does. And pairing these two outsiders leads to one of his best recent novels.

Neither has to settle for a secondary role here. Each takes centerstage, as Connelly alternates chapters through Ballard’s eyes and Bosch’s.

They meet by chance and end up working together to solve the cold-case killing of a teenage girl that Bosch won’t let go.

Ballard shares Harry’s singular devotion to setting things right.

She also revitalizes Bosch, who is now in forced semi-retirement from the LAPD and, until this book, has been working cold cases the past few years as a volunteer for the much smaller San Fernando police department.

Connelly has said he plans to introduce Ballard to his other series-leading character, “Lincoln Lawyer” Mickey Haller, Bosch’s half-brother. That’s fine. But here’s hoping we don’t have to wait long for another Ballard and Bosch novel.