The Burning Room by Michael Connelly

The Burning RoomThe Burning Room

by Michael Connelly
Series: Harry Bosch, #19

Mass Market Paperback, 459 pg.
Vision, 2015

Read: November 16 – 18, 2015

Harry Bosch is in the last few months of his career with the LAPD — he’s about to be forced to retire again, and there’ll be no coming back from this one. He’s at peace with this — as much as he can be. It helps that he’s training rookie Detective Lucia Soto. Soto wants to learn from him (which distinguishes her from a lot of his former partners) and seems to want to do things the way Bosch does — it’s about results, not politics; shoe leather, not (just) computer work — everyone matters. If Harry can replace himself with someone like her, he’ll go happily.

There are two cases that Bosch is focusing on this time out — one officially so, the other on his own. The official case has a lot of press, a lot of attention from inside and outside the LAPD from the Chief all the way down. It’s an odd cold case, too. The victim just died, from complications of a bullet lodged in his back almost a decade ago. From the initial findings to the end, nothing turns out to be anything like it was assumed in the initial investigation when he was shot. Great, twisty case.

Connelly spends more effort on the other case, which ends up giving the novel its title. It dates back to about the same time, but isn’t actually assigned to Bosch and Soto initially. It’s been a long time Hobby Case of Soto’s, though and she recruits Bosch to help — which he does, to keep her out of trouble and to continue her development. The case is an old arson investigation, the building that was set on fire was an old apartment building that also housed an unlicensed day care. Nine children died in the fire, and it’s haunted the neighborhood since. A much more complicated case — made the moreso by the two working it off-book.

Harry’s not fighting corruption in the ranks or City Hall this time — his targets may be close to power (and some are about as far from it as you can get), but that’s it. As much as I enjoyed the forever long feud with Irving, I’m glad to see some variety. No corruption to fight — just bureaucratic timetables and peevishness. That’s bad enough for anyone.

Whether we’re talking Iggy Ferras, David Chu, Kiz Rider, Jerry Edgar or any of the other partners Harry’s worked with, it’s safe to say, most of them haven’t been great matches. Kiz came close (Edgar did, too, in a way — they knew how to work together, mostly). This is probably the best relationship Harry’s had with a partner — not his equal, but with almost the same drive. And she knows she needs Harry’s lectures (which most of the others didn’t need or want), she wants to hear them — she even asks for his feedback and critique. Even without this, Soto’s got it going on, her strengths supplement and/or complement Harry’s. I wish they had more time together — although Harry’s lessons might start to grate on her if they spent more than several months together, see the above list of ex-partners.

While the partner/partner dynamic hasn’t always been idyllic, you can usually count on a healthy father-daughter interaction — or at least attempts on both of their parts at it. There wasn’t that much Harry and Maddie material in this one — but what was there was . . . okay. I wonder if Connelly is preparing for a spin-off series starring Maddie, or if he’ll hand that off to someone else to do.

I’m not entirely satisfied — nor are we supposed to be — with the way both cases resolved, but they did so in a way that Harry can be proud of. Much more he has a legacy to pass down –both to Maddie and to Det. Soto. You also know that Harry’ll be one of those retired cops who’ll be quick to return a call from someone in the future looking for help on an old case.

A good Bosch, not great, but solid and satisfying. Killer last scene, even if it made me think of Sutton Foster playing Harry in a very special episode of Bosch. Good ’nuff for me.

—–

3.5 Stars

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