Reviews for Desert star

Publishers Weekly
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In bestseller Connelly’s thrilling fifth outing for Renée Ballard and Harry Bosch (after 2021’s The Dark Hours), Ballard invites the retired Bosch to volunteer for the LAPD’s newly revived Open-Unsolved Unit, which she’s running, enticing him with the prospect of finding the man responsible for the 2013 slaying of an entire family. She also wants to reopen the 1994 murder of 16-year-old Sarah Pearlman, sister of the L.A. city councilman who helped resuscitate the cold case team. Ballard and Bosch work at the department’s new homicide archive where the unsolved murder books are stored: “hallowed ground to Bosch. The library of lost souls.” Both cases require deep dives into the past; both lead to great action scenes; and, as always, Connelly displays his encyclopedic knowledge of the latest forensics, such as “Investigative Genetic Genealogy.” Bosch, however, takes a low-tech approach and follows leads in the field with his trademark intensity, driven by his desire to restore order in a violent world (“The dark engine of murder would never run low on fuel. Not in his lifetime”). This entry, the 24th Bosch novel, may not be as expansive as The Dark Hours, but it ranks up there with Connelly’s best. Agent: Philip G. Spitzer, Philip G. Spitzer Literary. (Nov.)

Library Journal
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Another home run for Connelly as he brings Renée Ballard and Harry Bosch together again. Ballard left the LAPD because of its "good old boys" practices, but after a promise from the new chief that she'd have carte blanche reopening and manning the Open-Unsolved-Unit, she returns. Her first pick for the team is Bosch, but they did not part on good terms. So she offers Bosch the chance to reopen the case that still haunts him. He takes the bait even though the catch is that first they must reopen the unsolved murder of an L.A. councilman's sister. Bosch is older and wiser but still a jazz-loving rebel with a cause, and Renee still (unsuccessfully) tries to rein him in to be the team player he'll never be. The plot is an exceptional piece of crime drama, and the short chapters help keep the expectations high and the flow smooth. The narrative is unapologetic hard-edged cop-speak, and Bosch and Ballard rock every page. VERDICT Fans of police procedurals, dark cat-and-mouse mysteries, and Connelly's iconic characters will find this soon-to-be-best-seller absolutely unputdownable.—Debbie Haupt

Book list
From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission.

Renée Ballard, who quit the LAPD after the events of The Dark Hours (2021), is back on the job, leading the department’s newly reconstituted Open Unsolved Unit. Naturally, she turns to her retired mentor, Harry Bosch, a veteran cold case investigator, for help. Bosch agrees to sign on as a volunteer, mainly for the chance to take another crack at the case that got away—the quadruple murder of an entire family. Bosch knows who did it, but the killer vanished before all the dots were connected. With the help of DNA and that legendary Boschian attention to even the smallest of details, Harry intends to close the case this time, nearly a decade after the fact. Meanwhile, though, there’s another cold case for which Ballard needs Bosch’s skills: the unsolved murder of a 16-year-old girl whose brother is now a city councilman and holds the purse strings to Ballard’s unit. Connelly has long been a master at demonstrating the meticulousness with which good cops make cases, and here he is able to generate genuine suspense through a careful recounting of the procedural process, whether it involves feet on the street or fingers on the keyboard. Eventually, though, the bad guys behind the DNA swabs need confronting, and that gives Connelly the chance to show his action-writing chops. Longtime Bosch followers will be taking deep breaths after this one’s superb finale, especially given its implications for the future. HIGH-DEMAND BACKSTORY: The runaway success of Connelly's characters in the streaming world—Amazon's Bosch and Netflix's The Lincoln Lawyer—continues to drive fans back to the books.

Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

A snap of the yo-yo string yanks Harry Bosch out of retirement yet again. Los Angeles Councilman Jake Pearlman has resurrected the LAPD’s Open-Unsolved Unit in order to reopen the case of his kid sister, Sarah, whose 1994 murder was instantly eclipsed in the press by the O.J. Simpson case when it broke a day later. Since not even a councilor can reconstitute a police unit for a single favored case, Det. Renée Ballard and her mostly volunteer (read: unpaid) crew are expected to reopen some other cold cases as well, giving Bosch a fresh opportunity to gather evidence against Finbar McShane, the crooked manager he’s convinced executed industrial contractor Stephen Gallagher, his wife, and their two children in 2013 and buried them in a single desert grave. The case has haunted Bosch more than any other he failed to close, and he’s fine to work the Pearlman homicide if it’ll give him another crack at McShane. As it turns out, the Pearlman case is considerably more interesting—partly because the break that leads the unit to a surprising new suspect turns out to be both fraught and misleading, partly because identifying the killer is only the beginning of Bosch’s problems. The windup of the Gallagher murders, a testament to sweating every detail and following every lead wherever it goes, is more heartfelt but less wily and dramatic. Fans of the aging detective who fear that he might be mellowing will be happy to hear that “putting him on a team did not make him a team player.” Not the best of Connelly’s procedurals, but nobody else does them better than his second-best. Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.