Featured Review: ‘Desert Star’ by Michael Connelly


#1 New York Times bestselling author Michael Connelly delivers another winner with his latest tag-team effort between longtime hero Harry Bosch and fan-favorite Renee Ballard, who work together when two cold cases suddenly heat up—offering Bosch a chance to finally take down a killer he’s been chasing for years.

Renee Ballard is no longer working on The Late Show. In fact, she’s no longer LAPD after quitting the force due to numerous factors, including instances of blatant misogyny directed her way. That changes when the chief of police shows up inviting her back, letting her have her pick of assignments. That paves the way for Ballard to head up the newly revived Open-Unsolved Unit at  Robbery-Homicide Division, Harry Bosch’s old stomping grounds, a job she’s passionate about. But she’ll need some help.

Appealing to Bosch directly, Ballard asks him back as a volunteer investigator to help her solve cold cases. She sweetens the pot when she tells Harry that he can pursue an old case of his surrounding the brutal 2013 murders of the Gallagher family. That case (the whole family was gruesomely killed and buried in the desert) haunts Bosch, and knowing it’s his “white whale,” Ballard promises to throw the full support of her department, and by extension of that, the resources of the LAPD, behind his pursuit of the killer. That gets Harry on board, but first, it’s understood that their top priority is solving the 1994 murder of 16-year-old Sarah Pearlman. As fate would have it, Sarah was the little sister of the very councilman who helped revive the cold case unit, and Ballard—now having to deal with the politics that come with an elevated position within the department—senses that support for the Open-Unsolved Unit could waver if they don’t find answers quickly.

With two killers on the loose, it’s once again up to Bosch and Ballard to connect the dots and bring justice to the victims and their families—but this time, they’re faced with new challenges and more danger than ever before.

Told with the same smooth prose that his fans have come to expect, Michael Connelly’s Desert Star twists and turns its way towards a gripping and thrilling final act that’s impossible to put down. While Connelly continues to build out Ballard, who may one day very well carry this franchise on her own, he certainly hasn’t forgotten about Bosch. Not only does Harry have plenty of screen time, but his famous creed, “everyone matters, or nobody matters,” is tested when he’d prefer to keep working the Gallagher case rather than divert energy elsewhere simply because of a powerful political connection. Moreover, the relationship (and trust) between Bosch and Ballard continues to develop too. It’s especially fun to see Harry’s low-tech, old-school approach versus Renee’s penchant to embrace technology and newer, cutting-edge forensics. The balance is nice, but more importantly, highlights how the two characters really are better together than apart.

Michael Connelly delivers again. Desert Star is yet another page-turning, can’t-miss thriller from authors to ever do it.

Book Details

Author: Michael Connelly
Series: Bosch & Ballard #5
Pages: 400 (Hardcover)
ISBN: 0316485659
Publisher: Little, Brown and Company
Release Date: November 8, 2022
Real Book Spy Rating: 8.75/10



Praised as “One of the hardest working, most thoughtful, and fairest reviewers out there” by #1 New York Times bestselling author Lisa Scottoline, Ryan Steck has “quickly established himself as the authority on mysteries and thrillers” (Author A.J. Tata). Steck also works full-time as a freelance editor and is building a growing community on Twitch. His debut thriller, FIELDS OF FIRE, which #1 New York Times bestselling author Jack Carr says “will leave you speechless and begging for more,” is now available. For more information, be sure to follow him on Twitter and Facebook. And to take part in free, exclusive BOOK CLUBS each month, join The Real Book Spy on Discord.


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