Source: Review copy
Publication: 8 November 2022 from Orion
My thanks to Orion for an advance copy for review
SOME CRIMES YOU CAN’T FORGET.
Detective Renée Ballard is given the chance of a lifetime: revive the LAPD’s cold case unit and find justice for the families of the forgotten. The only catch is they must first crack the unsolved murder of the sister of the city councilman who is sponsoring the department – or lose everything…
OTHERS YOU CAN’T FORGIVE.
Harry Bosch is top of the list of investigators Ballard wants to recruit. The former homicide detective is a living legend – but for how long? Because Bosch has his own agenda: a crime that has haunted him for years – the murder of a whole family, buried out in the desert – which he vowed to close.
WHAT WOULD YOU DO IF YOU KNEW WHO DID IT?
With the killer still out there and evidence elusive – Bosch is on a collision course with a choice he hoped never to make…
If there’s one class of people Bosch would prefer criminals over, it would have to be politicians. But when Renee Ballard approaches him with an offer he can’t refuse, he puts that thought to the back of his mind.
For Jake Pearlman, a politician, has made it possible for Renee Ballard to restart the LAPD Open Unsolved Unit so that she can investigate the death of his sister. Sarah Pearlman was just sixteen when she murdered and her killer has never been caught. And there’s one person that Renee really wants working alongside her. Harry Bosch isn’t easy to persuade, but Renee knows that there’s one case that haunts him to this day; the slaying of the Gallagher family that he never managed to resolve. He’s pretty sure he knows who is responsible; proving it was a whole other matter.
Renee promises that he can re-open that case as well as working on the death of the Councilman’s sister is enough to lure Harry back to the cold case table. There are others in the cold case team too, though Ballard is the only current serving police officer – the others are retired and volunteers and include a genealogist and a former FBI officer. Some come with baggage that makes Bosch wary, so as ever, he is keeping himself to himself and not sharing much about his progress other than to Renee.
Michael Connelly is the master of making police procedurals authentic and in Desert Star that mix of professional detection and political interference is brilliantly achieved. Connelly draws a convincing set of characters and lets the different styles of interaction between Ballard and Bosch set up their own dynamic within the Cold Case Unit.
While Ballard juggles with bureaucracy trying to leverage money for the unit and keep the Councilman happy, Bosch is going his own sweet way, occasionally making sure he’s keeping Ballard happy – a task he doesn’t always achieve. Nonetheless they are clearly a team who work together on the same wavelength and their detection abilities complement each other very well. They are, quite simply, a team who know each other well enough to understand what the other is thinking and that’s a huge bonus, even when Bosch tests that relationship to breaking point.
The passage of time in cold cases is really helped by the advances in technology and so it proves with the case of Sarah Pearlman. But this is no academic exercise; very real danger threatens both Ballard and Bosch as they pursue the leads they have uncovered.
Desert Star is an emotional read and we find Harry pursuing the Gallagher case with an urgency that feels like the drive of a ferret pursing a rat. He will make sure he gets his perpetrator irrespective of the cost and eschewing the usual police proprieties.
Verdict: A strong, emotional and as ever brilliantly written police procedural that really hits the spot. Ballard and Bosch are a fantastic team and this is an unmissable contribution to the series.
Michael Connelly is the author of thirty-four previous novels, including the #1 New York Times bestsellers Dark Sacred Night, Two Kinds of Truth, and The Late Show. His books, which include the Harry Bosch series and the Lincoln Lawyer series, have sold more than eighty million copies worldwide. Connelly is a former newspaper reporter who has won numerous awards for his journalism and his novels. He is the executive producer of Bosch, starring Titus Welliver, and the creator and host of the podcast Murder Book. He spends his time in California and Florida.