All The Books I Can Read

1 girl….2 many books!

Review: Desert Star by Michael Connelly

on December 9, 2022

Desert Star (Harry Bosch #24, Renee Ballard #5)
Michael Connelly
Allen & Unwin
2022, 388p
Copy courtesy of the publisher

Blurb {from the publisher/}: LAPD detective Renée Ballard and Harry Bosch work together to hunt the killer who is Bosch’s “white whale”—a man responsible for the murder of an entire family.

A year has passed since LAPD detective Renée Ballard quit the force in the face of misogyny, demoralization, and endless red tape. Yet, after the chief of police himself tells her she can write her ticket within the department, Ballard takes back her badge, leaving “the Late Show” to rebuild the cold case unit at the elite Robbery-Homicide Division.

For years, Harry Bosch has been working a case that haunts him but that he hasn’t been able to crack—the murder of an entire family by a psychopath who still walks free. Ballard makes Bosch an offer: come work with her as a volunteer investigator in the new Open-Unsolved Unit, and he can pursue his “white whale” with the resources of the LAPD behind him.

The two must put aside old resentments to work together again and close in on a dangerous killer. 

This is the 24th book in the longstanding Harry Bosch series and the fifth book that also features Renee Ballard. I’ve only read a handful of relevant books – the first and second Bosch books years ago and I’ve read the first and fourth in Ballard’s series. I do have plans to go back and read 2&3 in that series but it’s about finding the time!

In this book, Ballard (after quitting the force) is kind of back, heading a unit that will solve – or attempt to – cold cases. She’s been able to put together a small team of volunteers, people to do the office and computer grunt work while she does most of the field and investigative work. She knows she wants Harry Bosch on her team even though he’s very angry with her right now and she has the perfect carrot to dangle in front of him: a chance to finally solve the one that got away. Even though there are numerous cases that Bosch never solved during his time, this is the one that haunts him. An entire family executed and buried in the desert. Bosch knows who did it….he just needs to find him.

As well as that case, the unit also has as its top priority, the unsolved murder of a politician, who is a supporter of the division and Ballard knows that probably her funding is contingent on whether or not she can satisfactorily close the case Although she’s used the carrot to draw Bosch in, she needs him to prioritise this first – but Bosch is Bosch and will always do his own thing it seems.

This was another really enjoyable and engrossing story. After the ending of the previous book, it was a little surprising to find that Bosch was so angry at Renee and they didn’t seem to be talking but then it all began to make sense. Renee also needs Bosch for hew new team, he’s such a good investigator and he often sees things that others don’t. This book really focuses on two crimes, the assault and murder of the politician’s sister, which was so long ago that now they can try different things that weren’t available technology-wise back in the time when the crime occurred. They are able to make slow progress, to link the DNA at the scene to another (unsolved) crime and work from there. It’s meticulous work. There’s the added pressure of needing to get this right or the unit itself might be very short-lived. And it’s about justice as well, for those that never got it and their families.

I really like Renee as a character although it felt quite a bit like she took a backseat here and this was definitely a Bosch book. A lot of it is about Harry and his desire to solve this case and the reason for that becomes more clear the further you get into the book. I don’t have the extensive background knowledge of Harry so what was revealed was a surprise to me and I’m not quite sure what the future holds. But I do intend to keep up with this series and see what’s next.


Book #195 of 2022

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