Desert Star by Michael Connelly – Book

Last summer (2022) I set out to do some recreational reading. I decided to read all the Harry Bosch books by Michael Connelly. I finished in early fall, but a new book was announced. Of course, I had to read it. The book is Desert Star, and it is also a Renée Ballard story. Since Harry Bosch has aged along with the books Connelly has written, Bosch has been retired from police work for some time. However, Harry Bosch has a life mission to rid the world of those who do evil. It is his frequently stated belief that “everyone counts, or no one does.” He despises the politics that infiltrates policing, and he runs afoul of those who occupy the tenth floor (the police commissioner and his staff) because when he is chasing someone truly evil, he cannot stop until he finds the guilty party or parties, even if he has to bend or break police department rules to do it.

In Desert Star, Bosch is invited to work with the Cold Case group which Renée Ballard has been authorized to set up. This division comes and goes with pressures from people outside the department. A pol who has a personal interest in an old case has put the pressure on the department to take another look at this case. 

The cold case division is also revisited when there is a new development in criminal forensics. This time the new developments are in DNA analysis. With the popularity of online genealogy websites and the family trees developed through these DNA analyses it is possible to trace crime scene DNA by using genealogical matches that are less than 100%. You can locate a criminal by locating relatives.

Bosch has agreed to volunteer with the new task force to solve a case that he cannot forget. Out in the desert are four cairns that mark the spots where an entire family (mother, father, young daughter, and son) are buried. They were shot and buried in the desert in a mass grave until a college class dug up their bones while completing a geology/paleontology project. Bosch has to find out what kind of evil human being would basically assassinate an entire family and why the evil one felt it was necessary.

We find Bosch torn between working on the case that the politician has ordered and the case he wants to solve. Ballard’s job is to rein Bosch in and keep him on task. Bosch has worked with Ballard before, and she has only the slightest edge on keeping him in line over any other police administrator because he likes her. This time Bosch goes beyond just breaking with police procedure; if anyone knew and could prove how he resolved the case that enraged him he would probably be charged with a crime. 

Can Harry Bosch ever work a case again? Is he too old to go rogue and become a vigilante? This time Harry may have to retire for real or become an evil one himself.

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