Desert Star Audible Audiobook – Unabridged
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LAPD detective Renée Ballard and Harry Bosch team up to hunt the brutal killer who is Bosch’s “white whale”—a man responsible for the murder of an entire family.
A year has passed since LAPD detective Renée Ballard quit the force in the face of misogyny, demoralization, and endless red tape. But after the chief of police himself tells her she can write her own ticket within the department, Ballard takes back her badge, leaving “the Late Show” to rebuild and lead the cold case unit at the elite Robbery-Homicide Division.
For years, Harry Bosch has been working a case that haunts him—the murder of an entire family by a psychopath who still walks free. Ballard makes Bosch an offer: come volunteer as an investigator in her new Open-Unsolved Unit, and he can pursue his “white whale” with the resources of the LAPD behind him.
First priority for Ballard is to clear the unsolved rape and murder of a sixteen-year-old girl. The decades-old case is essential to the councilman who supported re-forming the unit, and who could shutter it again—the victim was his sister. When Ballard gets a “cold hit” connecting the killing to a similar crime, proving that a serial predator has been at work in the city for years, the political pressure has never been higher. To keep momentum going, she has to pull Bosch off his own investigation, the case that is the consummation of his lifelong mission.
The two must put aside old resentments and new tensions to run to ground not one but two dangerous killers who have operated with brash impunity. In what may be his most gripping and profoundly moving book yet, Michael Connelly shows once again why he has been dubbed “one of the greatest crime writers of all time” (Ryan Steck, Crimereads).
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|Listening Length||9 hours and 37 minutes|
|Narrator||Titus Welliver, Christine Lakin, Peter Giles|
|Audible.com Release Date||November 08, 2022|
|Publisher||Little, Brown & Company|
|Best Sellers Rank|| #420 in Audible Books & Originals (See Top 100 in Audible Books & Originals) |
#1 in Crime Action Fiction (Audible Books & Originals)
#2 in Mystery Action Fiction (Audible Books & Originals)
#2 in Police Procedural Mysteries
Reviewed in the United States on November 16, 2022
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Author Michael Connelly in perhaps what can be viewed as a complete turnaround from perhaps his worst entry in the Bosch series… his previous book “The Dark Hours” (see my previous review)… pens what I wholeheartedly consider as his absolute best in the entire series!
Bosch is retired and showing his age in all walks of his life. Bosch is now around seventy-years-old… and the first ABSOLUTE-LITERARY-BULLSEYE for the author… is how he ages the Bosch character perfectly… and not with garish… or comical… or mean-spirited… swipes at our long time hero Harry Bosch. Though Connelly… throughout his writing history… always graciously thanks and lists at the end of his books… the names of experts in every endeavor from law enforcement to forensics to nephrology, geography, botany, genealogy… and on and on… I assure you he didn’t need much guidance in the all-around decaying of a once vibrant man… as the author is getting up in years… as this reviewer is himself. So what is fully appreciated by the reader is the subtle… but unfortunately true steps… OF-NO-LONGER-BEING-THE-MAN-YOU-ONCE-WERE! The small… but growing losing battles with balance… knees giving out… or painful when not giving out… and the inevitable combination simultaneously of both losses… in the inevitable losing battle with “Father-Time”! The fact that every staircase… every hour of the day or night… has to be anticipated… and approached… with a plan… is described perfectly and with dignity.
“Co-Star” LAPD detective Renee’ Ballard has been put in charge of a new OPEN-UNSOLVED-CASE-UNIT… and her team will be made up of retired volunteers. And Renee’… mimicking Dodger manager Tommy LaSorda pulling a hobbling Kirk Gibson out of the dugout to hit the most dramatic home run in World Series history in game one of the 1988 Series… so does Renee’ pull the hobbled Bosch out of the dugout onto the field of play.
The two main cases are one that has haunted… and stayed in Harry’s very soul for years… so much so if someone calls it “The Gallagher Case”… Harry is enraged and emotionally says: “I GUESS FIRST OF ALL, I DON’T CALL IT THE GALLAGHER CASE. I CALL IT THE GALLAGHER FAMILY CASE BECAUSE IT’S A QUADRUPLE KILLING, A WHOLE FAMILY: MOTHER, FATHER, NINE-YEAR-OLD DAUGHTER, AND THIRTEEN-YEAR-OLD-SON.” And the second case regards a decades old rape and murder of a sixteen-year-old girl who happened to be the sister of the city councilman who pushed to reactive the cold-case unit… and is the unit’s biggest supporter.
Perhaps the biggest improvement in the area of plot and detail in this episode of Bosch and Ballard… is that in the previous saga it seemed that every other page was filled with everyone in law enforcement being anti-feminist... Misogynistic… or just hating their job in every echelon of police work. That literary stench has been wiped clean like a sidewalk after a summer rain. This story is sleek and nimble right from the get go. In just a few pages the reader clearly knows what the story agenda will encompass. The entire tale moves like a sports car in the car pool lane… with just the right amount of quips and veteran descriptors… such as this one letting readers old and new… know… that Harry has truly been around the block of life a few times… “HE HAD LOST MUCH OF HIS FAITH IN THE GOODNESS OF PEOPLE. TO HIM THE VIOLENCE WASN’T THE DEPARTURE FROM THE NORM. IT WAS THE NORM.”
As I AM- A-PROUD-HONORABLY-DISCHARGED-VIET-NAM-ERA-VETERAN… as is Harry Bosch… the few but powerful links to Harry’s service are not only welcomed… but immensely enjoyed as to their quality. One such case was where Ballard makes a comment to Bosch about the first time she heard a song being played… Bosch responded with: “FIRST TIME I HEARD IT WAS ON A HARMONICA. A GUY IN VIETNAM. IT SOUNDED LIKE A FUNERAL SONG TO ME. AND THAT GUY, HE NEVER MADE IT HOME.”
The story telling and the flow… is unstoppable from beginning to end... and in place of continual complaints about the LAPD and left wing comments in the previous book… there are some well-done intermittent characters on the new Cold-Case team… and to me the final icing on my celebratory great book cake… is that the most annoying young repetitive female character in an ongoing fictional detective series… Maddie… is barely in the book.
This literally fits the guidelines of a book you don’t want to put down till you’re done!
But my regulars are Nelson DeMille, James Lee Burke (father was a Burke fan, Dave Robochaux and the westerns), Baldacci as already mentioned, and Michael Connelly. I've read all the Harry Bosch books, the Lincoln Lawyer books, the Bosch _AND_ Mickey Haller books, and now that Bosch is getting a little long in the tooth, the Ballard books plus the standalones like the Poet books and the Bloodwork books.
All this not to boast but to establish my bona fides.
When I say I know something about Connelly (if you assume I've seen the Bosch shows on Amazon and on FreeTV you'd be right) and Bosch, I do. One of the touches Burke did to Robochaux and Connelly has done to Bosch is to age the protagonist. As the author has aged so has the protagonist, in this case Bosch. Connelly's in his 70s and so is Bosch. Plus a medical condition that was in a book a decade ago (and BTW the Amazon series as well) came back to bite Harry a couple of books ago and is gnawing his bones. And that's okay, it adds verisimilitude. That and the few steps behind Bosch is showing. It would be a little preposterous for Harry to be the same tunnel rat today he was in 'Nam. This Bosch is almost current with 2022: LA is trying to recover from Covid, there's a recall election in the DA's office, and though he's back working cold cases for LAPD, he's fully retired (it says so on his badge) and working for Renee Ballard as a civilian volunteer.
Though he's physically past his prime, Harry is as tough and smart as ever.
Everybody counts or nobody counts.
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In this capacity, Ballard has recruited Bosch to help out as a volunteer, along with a handful of colleagues, most of whom are also retired from careers in different aspects of law enforcement. Ballard has identified one case as a priority as it involves the murder several years before of the sister of the politician who ad campaigned for the establishment of the Unit. Bosch is assigned various tasks, but is also keen to work on an other case that Ballard has drawn from the archives. This was the murder of a whole family which Bosch had investigated while still on the force. When he learns that new DNA evidence may have been uncovered he is keen to pursue the lead,
Connelly lets the narrative unfold with his customary dexterity. Before becoming a novelist he worked as a journalist, covering the crime beat. The skills he acquired in that career are evident in his novels, where the story is offered with great clarity and directness. I try to encourage members of my own team, which among other things deals with ministerial correspondence to follow the drafter’s ABC; accuracy, brevity and clarity, and it is clear that Connelly abides by the same rule.
Bosch is a well-crafted character. He has now featured in nearly thirty novels, during which he has aged in real time, which lends great verisimilitude to the stories. His motto is that, ‘Everyone counts, or nobody counts’, and this drives his keenness to investigate every crime that he can. Ballard is hewn from similar stock, and has clearly been influenced by Bosch during their few encounters in previous cases.
This is another very sound, and very welcome, addition to the Bosch canon.
There are many classic Bosch elements here. His lateral thinking, his tenacity, his empathy and his unwavering determination to do whatever needs doing. Ballard becomes more like Harry with each passing day and that may or may not prove to be something in her favour.
The story covers other unsolved murders but it is Harry’s case that steals the show. It was great to see Harry in such bullish form. Stay with us Harry.
Most of the action centres around the Councilman’s sister as it becomes obvious she wasn’t the only victim. To be honest not too difficult to work out who-dunnit it here. Bosch’s case takes centre stage again at the end and feels like the author’s attempt to say goodbye to him once more.
This is a perfectly workman-like book but Ballard still lacks that something that elevated the Harry Bosch stories. I have the feeling the author thinks so too, given the way he keeps reinventing the character - she’s very far from the outcast, surf-riding, night detective, he started out with.
He has found in Rachel Ballard an intriguing partner for the famous Harry Bosch. Neither Rachel nor Harry could be described as lovable – but they are interesting, and their actions and interactions are never predictable.
With every book recently I have wondered if it is Harry’s final adventure. It is hard to see now how he can carry on…. but we live in hope of one last case. I am not sure that Rachel alone will be sufficient to keep fans of Connelly happy. However, if he draws more and more on Mickey Haller, he will have me hooked. Haller is, in my opinion, by far his best character.
Desert Star tracks two separate cold cases through the new unit run by Ballard. Bosch is one of her chosen unit members, along with some other interesting characters. Predictably, Bosch struggles to stick to the rules and submit to Ballard’s leadership – the lone wolf frequently goes his own way and, of course, gets results using his unconventional methods.
My main criticism would be the lack of warmth and humour with the two main players. For me, these two elements are vital to the enjoyment of a novel. Thus only 4 stars.
However, I am looking forward to Connelly’s next book with interest. Where will he go next? Haller I hope!
LAPD detective Renee Ballard and retired detective Harry Bosch are back together trying to solve cold cases. Twelve months ago Renee Ballard quit the force but now she is back leading cold cases with the help of retired ex detectives. With their past experiences together Harry Bosch was always going to be asked to join the team and with his vast knowledge and expertise he is going to move mountains. There is an old case that still haunts Harry, the murder of an entire family by a psychopath that was never found and still walks free. So when Renee offers him the chance to join the team as a volunteer investigator in the new Open-Unsolved Unit it also opens up another chance to solve his obsession with the resources of the LAPD behind him.
I loved this from start to finish and didn’t put it down once. I know the characters and the writing style so well that I am instantly into the story and only wished I had another twenty four Harry Bosch novels to read.