Desert Star (A Renée Ballard and Harry Bosch Novel)

by Michael Connelly

Hardcover, 2022

Call number





Little, Brown and Company (2022), 400 pages


Fiction. Mystery. Thriller. HTML:LAPD detective Renée Ballard and Harry Bosch team up to hunt the brutal 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. But after the chief of police himself tells her she can write her own ticket within the department, Ballard takes back her badge, leaving �??the Late Show�?� to rebuild and lead the cold case unit at the elite Robbery-Homicide Division. For years, Harry Bosch has been working a case that haunts him�??the murder of an entire family by a psychopath who still walks free. Ballard makes Bosch an offer: come volunteer as an investigator in her new Open-Unsolved Unit, and he can pursue his �??white whale�?� with the resources of the LAPD behind him. First priority for Ballard is to clear the unsolved rape and murder of a sixteen-year-old girl. The decades-old case is essential to the councilman who supported re-forming the unit, and who could shutter it again�??the victim was his sister. When Ballard gets a �??cold hit�?� connecting the killing to a similar crime, proving that a serial predator has been at work in the city for years, the political pressure has never been higher. To keep momentum going, she has to pull Bosch off his own investigation, the case that is the consummation of his lifelong mission. The two must put aside old resentments and new tensions to run to ground not one but two dangerous killers who have operated with brash impunity. In what may be his most gripping and profoundly moving book yet, Michael Connelly shows once again why he has been dubbed �??one of the greatest crime writers of a… (more)

User reviews

LibraryThing member Twink
Michael Connelly is hands down one of my favorite authors. I've read all of his books and can't recommend them enough.
His latest is Desert Star. It's the fifth book that pairs up Harry Bosch and Renée Ballard. (And is the 36th to feature Harry!) Connelly has kept things moving forward in his
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series, with his protagonists aging and lives changing. Harry is now retired, but is the proverbial war-horse. With Renée heading up the the newly revived LAPD Open-Unsolved Unit, Harry has a chance to volunteer and clear the 'white whale' case of his career at last. "Everybody counts or nobody counts."

I was so eager to see where Harry's life was now. Long time readers, there's an opening chapter that will have you already cringing. Enough said.

There are literally thousands of unsolved cases to tackle. The one Harry wants cleared is the murder of an entire family of four. The one they need to solve to keep the unit open is the death of a politico's sister many years ago. The methodology of working on decades old cases is fascinating. New techniques can be used on old evidence. DNA is prominent in investigations. But it still needs someone who can put the pieces together, ask the right questions and follow the right clues. And that's Harry Bosch. But, he's not a rule follower and continues to work things in his own fashion, ruffling feathers along the way.

I devoured Desert Star, immediately caught up again in Connelly's writing and plotting. Both are outstanding. Connelly knows what he's writing. The dialogue, interactions, investigation and more have the ring of authenticity.

An easy five stars.

And I'll leave you to ponder this.... is it ever okay to do the wrong thing for the right reason?
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LibraryThing member phoenixcomet
Pretty much Harry Bosch's swan song. He is dying of radiation poisoning from another case several books back. Harry and Detective Renee Ballard team up as part of the newly reorganized Open-Unsolved Unit. The two cases they are working on are: to locate the killer of a prominent politicians sister,
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and also the killer of an entire family. The killer of the entire family was one of Harry's last cases Harry worked on as part of LAPD.
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LibraryThing member waldhaus1
Rene Ballard talks Harry into working with her on the reformed open unsolved unit. Harry wants to work on the case of a murdered family he has been investigating when he retired. He also works on the case involving the sister of a city councilman who has been tapped and murdered years earlier.
LibraryThing member Eyejaybee
Hieronymus ‘Harry’ Bosch has spent most of his life investigating crime in Los Angeles, both as a detective for LAP and thereafter in a private capacity. Now nearing, or maybe slightly beyond, the age of seventy, he may be a bit slower physically, but his determination for justice remains
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undimmed. Towards the end of the Dark Hours, the previous novel in this sequence, Bosch had panned to go into partnership as private investigators with his considerably younger sometime colleague, Detective Renee Ballard, who had become so disaffected with the many failings of LAPD. At the end of that novel, however, she had been enticed to remain on the force, and had been installed as head of a new cold case unit, which has been established by the department at the behest of a prominent local politician.

In this capacity, Ballard has recruited Bosch to help out as a volunteer, along with a handful of colleagues, most of whom are also retired from careers in different aspects of law enforcement. Ballard has identified one case as a priority as it involves the murder several years before of the sister of the politician who ad campaigned for the establishment of the Unit. Bosch is assigned various tasks, but is also keen to work on an other case that Ballard has drawn from the archives. This was the murder of a whole family which Bosch had investigated while still on the force. When he learns that new DNA evidence may have been uncovered he is keen to pursue the lead,

Connelly lets the narrative unfold with his customary dexterity. Before becoming a novelist he worked as a journalist, covering the crime beat. The skills he acquired in that career are evident in his novels, where the story is offered with great clarity and directness. I try to encourage members of my own team, which among other things deals with ministerial correspondence to follow the drafter’s ABC; accuracy, brevity and clarity, and it is clear that Connelly abides by the same rule.

Bosch is a well-crafted character. He has now featured in nearly thirty novels, during which he has aged in real time, which lends great verisimilitude to the stories. His motto is that, ‘Everyone counts, or nobody counts’, and this drives his keenness to investigate every crime that he can. Ballard is hewn from similar stock, and has clearly been influenced by Bosch during their few encounters in previous cases.

This si another very sound, and very welcome, addition to the Bosch canon.
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LibraryThing member MikeBruscellSr
Harry Bosch, is the heart and soul of the LAPD Open-Unsolved Homicide Unit. He is Bosch through and through, except at age 70 he has lost a step or two and doesn't bounce back from an injury like he used to. He's feeling his age but the flame burns bright. Rene Ballard has added him to her team and
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it places Harry exactly where he wants to be in life - running down murderers.

As one would expect from Michael Connelly this is a finely crafted story that offers a great deal of insight into what makes people like Harry and Renee tick.

Does he get the "white whale" he has been pursuing on and off for years, or does Connelly leave us to the edge of a sequel? You'll have to read it to see and you will be well-rewarded by the journey.

This is another ***** 5 star romp with one of the great characters of police fiction.
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LibraryThing member infjsarah
Do you want a good time reading? Do you want to fly through the book? Do you want easy readable prose with great characters? Then Michael Connelly is the one for you. Another great installment. But don't start here - go back to the beginning and enjoy.
LibraryThing member cathyskye
In Michael Connelly's latest Ballard & Bosch mystery, the new Open-Unsolved Unit is housed in the same building as the records of over 6,000 cold cases-- an area Bosch calls "the Library of Lost Souls", a poetic and sobering name. Desert Star shows us just what type of work it takes from each
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member of the team to work a cold case in order to bring closure to grieving families.

Naturally, the powers-that-be go back on their promises and insist on adding people to her team that Ballard doesn't want as well as deciding what her caseload focus should be. This adds tension to an already fraught situation since Ballard's right-hand man (Bosch) keeps going rogue and doing his own thing.

As always, Connelly provides masterful twists and turns. When all evidence seemed to be pointing squarely at one character early on, I thought to myself, "It can't be that easy!"-- and it wasn't. I knew I could count on Connelly.

By the end of Desert Star, I was left with one disturbing question: What does the future hold in store for Harry? He is one character whom I want to be immortal... even though I know that he can't be.
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LibraryThing member Judiex
Renée Ballard quit the LAPD a year ago because she became fed up with the way the department worked, especially regarding women. Then her ex-boss asked her to return and “write her own ticket.” She began to rebuild the dormant cold case unit in the Robbery-Homicide Department. Most of the team
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were retired, part-time volunteers. It was a small, hand-picked team, with one exception: that person was a man forced upon her by a Councilman and his assistant.
The first person she wanted but the last one she hired was Harry Bosch, who had retired from his police position a few years previously. While he had numerous successful outcomes to his cases, especially murders, he was tormented by one case he hadn’t been able to solve, the murder of an entire family, including two children, whose bodies were found in a desert miles from their home.
Ballard promises Harry that he can work on that case but there were some priorities. One of them was the rape and murder of a teenage girl more than two decades ago. The councilman was her older brother. He was the one who found her body and reopened the unit. He also had the power to close it if it wasn’t successful.
As head of the unit, Ballard set the rules and tone. Her primary interest was solving cases to keep the unit alive. She quickly learned that Bosch had his own methods and agenda, e.g., copying materials that were not supposed to be copied. But their previous history enabled her to be lenient with him.
There were two main problems in the unit. One was the member forced on her. He was a pipe-line to the councilman’s office. The second was a woman who was excellent on finding information online but also relied a lot on her feelings and instincts. Unfortunately, that sometimes included her touching evidence which could compromise the results of the investigation.
With new investigative tools available, the team was able to match DNA from the sister’s case to another similar cold case. There were eleven years between them and Bosch realized there were probably other murders in between them. But old techniques still can work. One of Bosch’s technique, especially after an unannounced visit, was to stand on the person’s porch and smoke a cigarette, listening to hear if they called anyone and what they said.
On the whole, the characters are realistic, changing as the situation changes. Harry, now seventy-years-old acts his age.
A bit wordy but still quite good plot and writing style.
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LibraryThing member lewilliams
Part 1 I found boring, even skipping through many pages. Part 2 was better, but not much. Connelly seems to be phasing Bosch out. That's to bad because the Harry Bosch series was one of the best police procedural, detectives series out there. So long Harry, it was a great run.
LibraryThing member thewanderingjew
Desert Star, Michael Connelly, author; Titus Welliver, Christine Lakin, Peter Giles, narrators
Renee Ballard and Harry Bosch had not seen each other for a while, not since she decided to stay with the police force and not team up with him. Harry had retired from the force under an undeserved storm
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cloud. Yes, he was a rogue cop, often disobeying orders, but he was a good cop, especially when it came to solving crimes.
Renee is now in charge of a new division looking into cold cases. She wants Harry’s help. She cannot hire him as a police officer, but he is the best person out there for the job she has to fill. She knows she can use his help. She also trusts him and can work well with him. She calls him and pitches her idea. He eagerly accepts the job as a volunteer working for her office.
The first thing Harry does is what he does best; he directly disobeys her orders and copies records. Renee understands his reason, and although angry, she lets it go after getting his promise not to do it again. One wonders, however, will he do it again anyway? Together, with the rest of the team, Ballard and Bosch begin to investigate two cold cases. One case is a case that Bosch had never been able to solve, a case that had haunted him. An entire family, including two children, had been brutally murdered in a gangland style killing. The murderer was never caught. The other unsolved case concerned a suspected serial killer. In their effort to solve that case, they learned of a young man sitting in prison that had been wrongfully convicted of a murder he had not committed. They set out to try and free him by reopening that case, as well.
The book is sometimes confusing because of the many characters; perhaps there are simply too many tangents involved. In the process of investigating the cold cases, Harry is often in danger. As the investigations progress, they expose corrupt police practices. They reveal that corrupt judges and corrupt politicians make deals with each other. They reveal a system that is flawed. Innocent scapegoats are often blamed for the sins of the guilty. With an election coming up, the politicians cared more about votes than innocence or guilt, and that mindset is sadly in our own headlines today, with the current President’s White House.
The book makes one thing clear, there is a question that must be answered. Is it ever okay to do the wrong thing for the right reason? Is it ever okay for law enforcement or the people’s representatives to cut corners and ignore the rules? Another question the reader will ponder, at the end is whether or not the Harry Bosch character will be retired? I sure hope not. I will miss him.
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LibraryThing member wdwilson3
Like several of the recent Bosch books, this seemed like two novellas cobbled together to make a novel. They're good novellas, but it would be nice to have a plot that would actually make it a novel.
LibraryThing member buffalogr
Easily readable with great/familiar characters. Overall the investigation trail was well done and a few red herrings. There are literally thousands of unsolved cases and Connelly works two of them in this book. I am a huge fan of Michael Connelly, enjoying all his different series. Not fine
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literature--kept my interest throughout, my measure of a good book.
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LibraryThing member malcrf
I'd give this a 3.75 if I could. A good solid Ballard/Bosch. A nice easy read with a page-turning plot. Comfort reading!
LibraryThing member DrApple
I love all Harry Bosch books, and this is no exception. Working with Renee Ballard in a newly formed cold case squad which is staffed by volunteers and retirees, Harry investigates cold cases that appear to be linked to powerful men. The book ends with truly depressing news.
LibraryThing member addunn3
Interesting, tight plot. A very fast read!
LibraryThing member lbswiener
Desert Star is a book that takes a long time to get all of the research done to figure out a couple of cold cases for detectives Renee Ballard and harry Bosch. The ending was left open for a sequel. Four stars were awarded to this book.
LibraryThing member jamespurcell
This excellent series continues nicely with this episode as the team pursues two more cold cases from the LAPD files. One, the murder of a whole family, including two small children, and the other, a horrific rape/murder of the group's political support person's young sister. Harry and Renee must
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skate close to some legal limitations. Needs must prevail and the action in the investigation moves swiftly if not always smoothly.
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LibraryThing member shazjhb
I love Harry Bosch but I think this may be the last book.
LibraryThing member creighley
LAPD Renee Ballard teams up with Harry Bosch to hunt the brutal killer who is Harry’s “white whale” - a man responsible for murdering an entire family.
Lacks suspense.
LibraryThing member amberwitch
New book in the Bosch and Ballard series. Ballard has returned to the LAPD, and gotten permission to restart the Open Unsolved unit (where several of the very best Bosch novels took place).
Now the place is running on volunteers, and she is re-activating Bosch for a specific case that needs solving
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to keep her sponsors happy.
As often, the plot consists of two cases running in parallel, the 30 year old murder of a council members (Ballards sponsor) sister, and the equally old murder of a family buried in the desert.
As always, a pretty satisfactory resolution, although not without some discordant notes.
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LibraryThing member juju2cat
This is perhaps one of the finest books I've read all year. "Profoundly moving" as the book's inset indicates. Harry gets a chance once again to work on a cold case, a murder of a family of four, that has haunted him for years. He and Renee Ballard are working two cold cases in tandem; both
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I loved it and will be haunted by the memories for a good long time.
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LibraryThing member edwardsgt
Bosch is persuaded to join Rene Ballard's newly reconstituted Open Unsolved Unit and quickly identifies a potential lead in a high profile political cold murder case. He also takes the opportunity of re-working one of his own cold cases which has haunted him. As usual Connelly expertly describes
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the bureaucratic and political challenges, creating believable characters operating iin authentic locations.
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LibraryThing member zmagic69
I wrote a great review of this but then the shitty app crashed and I lost it.
I bought this the day it came out but held on to it because I knew it would be excellent and wanted to read it when I needed an excellent book. It did not disappoint.
Like every one of Michael Connelly’s books and
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especially any featuring Harry Bosch, this is a 5 star read.
But if you are new to the series start at the beginning you won’t regret it!
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LibraryThing member Maydacat
Renee Ballard, now heading a cold case unit, enlists Harry Bosch as one of her department people. Working as a volunteer, Bosch still has his own methods, and his investigating skills, while quite effective, sometimes crosses the line. Ballard has her own ideas of what she wants Bosch to do, and he
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sometimes has other ideas. As usual, he puts his life on the line, but he generally gets what he wants. They are looking to solve the murder of a teenage girl by tying it to other cold cases. Meanwhile, Bosch still wants to solve the cold-blooded murder of an entire family. He gets what he wants but at a cost. The book leaves readers wondering what is next for Bosch in the future. As with the other novels in the series, this well-written tale is packed with action, suspense, and surprises. The audio version was very well performed by narrators Titus Welliver, Christine Lakin, and Peter Giles, and their rendition adds much enjoyment to the story.
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LibraryThing member runner56
Harry is pushing 70 now and from his exposure to radiation in "The Overlook" he has developed leukemia and so it is no wonder that at the start of Desert Star Harry is comtemplating his own swift demise, he has all the pills he might need lined up in a row, in front of him.....but a ringing
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doorbell and an offer from Renee Ballard sees Harry (at least temporarily) out chasing the historical bad guys.....the ones that got away. Every detective will have a list of the unsolved, cases that will always haunt them, cases that they were never able to solve and bring some form of peace to the families. The Gallagher family mum, dad and two children were brutally murdered and buried somewhere in the desert, Harry tells Renee that if he comes back to work the unsolved cases then he must have some personal time to find the killer of this family.....bringing some lasting peace not only to them but to one old tired ex detective.. In return Harry agrees to help Renee find a serial killer who operates years apart, and is much closer than either realize

I have always loved the writing of Michael Connelly and in particular the wonderful character that is Harry Bosch. His precarious house overlooking the city of angels, his love of jazz (always has me searching spotify :) and the relationship he enjoys with daughter Maddie. I enjoy the way Connelly stops and makes me think when he periodically reveals the philosopher in Harry....."He knew that almost everybody believed in something, holding a hope that there wasn't just an empty void at the end"......"Bosch turned off the screen and sat there thinking about how the truth was always manipulated by those in power"......
A wonderful story with a great antihero, he may be old but he still has the heart of a lion and hopefully his health will improve to bring a few remaining adventures to his adoring fans!
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Barry Award (Winner — Novel — 2023)




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