Desert Star (Renée Ballard #5, Bosch World #36), by Michael Connelly

Eight stars

Michael Connelly returns with the latest in the Bosch/Ballard series, which has been getting better with each book. Both protagonists know their place and have been able to effectively make their marks on the series, as well as this story in particular. Working different angles in a ragtag group examining cold cases, Bosch and Ballard captivate the reader and keep them guessing until the final truth comes to light. Connelly shows that he has a wonderful direction for this series, with some monumental news in the latter portion of this book. A must-read for series fans (and if you were going to skip it)!

After a scandalous departure from the LAPD, Renée Ballard is back. The Chief of Police offers her a new start, to which she agrees, but leaves her colleagues behind to resurrect the Cold Case squad within the LAPD Robbery-Homicide Division. Tasked with a handful of volunteers, Ballard is able to bring Harry Bosch back as an investigator. Bosch has an agenda all his own, as he battles with a case that has nagged him for years, where a psychopath killed an entire family.

The killer appears to be free in the wind, though Bosch is sure it’s only because he did not have the resources to work it when full-time within the LAPD. Now under Ballard’s approval, Bosch does his best to tackle it with fresh eyes, allowing a few others to offer their insights. Ballard is happy to have Bosch there, knowing that she could learn a great deal from him. All the same, Ballard remains leery that this will be a case that could suck the life out of her former mentor.

As Bosch makes some headway, he relies on Ballard to clear the way for him to make his move, in hopes of adding a positive stat to the LAPD column. However, anything can (and does) happen on the rough streets of LA, something both Bosch and Ballard know all too well. It’s the final chapters that impact the story most, sure to pique the interest of Bosch fans. Connelly proves to be a master with this chilling story that accentuates two of his well-developed protagonists.

I remember discovering the Harry Bosch series and not being able to get enough. This passion helped me devour many of the books, as well as the television spin-offs that came from them, keeping me highly entertained over the years. Bosch’s grit and Ballard’s no-nonsense advocacy keep the series strong, particularly while they are still working together. Time will tell what will come of it.

Those who have read novels in the Bosch series will know that Michael Connelly knows how to spin a story. They see it from the outset in a narrative that both sets the scene and carries the reader throughout the journey. This is no exception, as both Bosch and Ballard are at their respective crossroads and need something new. Those who surround themselves with these two enrich the story and offer some light humour to a dark and troubling story. Plot twists in the cold case keep things from getting too mundane and Bosch has a way of turning over many rocks to unleash adventurous moments. I have seen Harry Bosch transform over the years and even Renée Ballard has made some significant changes in her short time in the series. I wonder what’s to come and how these two will keep readers on the edge of their seats, particularly with the cliffhanger Connelly offers.

Kudos, Mr. Connelly, for another stellar piece. Keep them coming, as I know many who love this series in all its forms.