Cover image of "Desert Star," the fifth book in a new Harry Bosch detective series

Most authors of mystery and suspense fiction have long since learned that their only hope to make a living from their craft is to launch a new detective series. The field abounds with them, some numbering in the dozens of novels. Believe it or not, the Remo Williams series of thrillers by Warren Murphy and Richard Sapir hit novel number 152 in 2018. It may be the longest-running in its genre. But other authors who take the time to do the necessary research and polish their prose set their sights more reasonably. Jonathan Kellerman, for example, with thirty-eight novels to date since 1985 in his long-running mystery series featuring psychologist Alex Delaware. And John Sandford—thirty-two Prey novels over the past thirty-three years. They’re both good examples.

Los Angeles-based Michael Connelly is in the same class with his novels about now-retired LAPD homicide detective Harry Bosch. To date, he has written a total of forty novels in three related series, all of which include Harry as either the protagonist or partnering with the central figure. The latest is Desert Star, the fifth entry in his newest series that features Harry working with LAPD cold-case detective Renée Ballard. In every way, it’s a worthy addition to the series.

Estimated reading time: 5 minutes

A natural partnership

After introducing Renée Ballard in 2017 in The Late Show, Connelly brought her together with Harry the following year in Dark Sacred Night. He was in his sixties and retired from the LAPD, then working part-time on cold cases for a small town department in the San Fernando Valley. The two team up, Renée working from the inside with all the resources of the LAPD at her disposal, and Harry bringing to the effort the benefit of four decades of experience and his fabled insight. Both are mavericks after a fashion, unwilling to tolerate the prejudice and self-protectiveness of the police establishment. They get along well. And they close their cases.

Desert Star (Renée Ballard and Harry Bosch #5) by Michael Connelly (2022) 401 pages ★★★★★

Photo of author with LAPD detective who is model for Renee Ballard in this new Harry Bosch detective series
The author speaking with LAPD detective Mitzi Roberts, Connelly’s model for Renée Ballard. Image: Los Angeles Times

Will these two cold cases come together?

In Desert Star, Harry is visibly aging and appears unwell. Renée had resigned from the department, fed up with the misogyny and the vicious in-house politics. But she is back now, assigned by the Chief of Police himself to head up a revived cold case unit. An influential City Councilman has persuaded the LAPD to reactivate the unit because, as a teenager, his younger sister had been raped and murdered—and the perpetrator was never identified. To tackle this seemingly unsolvable case, among others, Renée enlists Harry to come back as a volunteer. But he’s only willing to do so if she will permit him to pursue his own top-priority case: the unsolved murder of a family of four whose bodies were accidentally found in the desert. Harry goes to work with her on both cases. And eventually, of course, they will close them both. This is fiction, after all. But the end is long in coming, and in the process both Renée and Harry are tested to the limits of their abilities as the novel rockets to a shocking conclusion.

Michael Connelly is known for the deep research he conducts before every novel, and it shows. In Desert Star, the two detectives make use of the most sophisticated new tools in forensic science. For any fan of detective fiction, it’s fascinating stuff.

About the author

Photo of Michael Connelly, author of this new Harry Bosch detective series

Michael Connelly needs no introduction to avid mystery fans. He has written scores of bestselling novels featuring Harry Bosch and (later) Renée Ballard as well as Harry’s half-brother, defense attorney Mickey Haller. He has won nearly every major award in the mystery genre. Connelly’s work is characterized by deeply researched details about police and courtroom procedures. He was born in Philadelphia in 1956, moved to Florida with his family, and graduated from the University of Florida. He worked as a journalist for several years, first in Florida and then at the Los Angeles Times. Connelly has been writing full-time since 1995. He divides his time between California and Florida.

For more reading

I’ve been reading all the Renée Ballard and Harry Bosch novels as they come out, most recently the fourth in the series, The Dark Hours (Harry Bosch teams up with Renée Ballard again). I’ve also read and reviewed a great many of the earlier Harry Bosch novels, the first of which was The Black Echo (Harry Bosch: the backstory). You’ll find reviews of the others by typing “Harry Bosch” into the search box in the upper right-hand corner of the Home Page.

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