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The Burning Room (Harry Bosch) Paperback – March 17, 2015
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"Bosch has become one of the most popular and enduring figures in American crime fiction."―Kevin Nance, Chicago Tribune
"The Black Echo introduced Connelly as the heir apparent to Raymond Chandler and also helped usher in a new approach to the police procedural. Now, twenty years later, Connelly is still writing about Harry Bosch, continuing to discover new layers to this now iconic character with increasingly complex and believable plots....Connelly makes him a fresh and original character each outing."―Oline H. Cogdill, Miami Herald
"Bosch has become Mr. Connelly's most durable, well-entrenched creation."―Janet Maslin, New York Times
"Connelly proves again that neither he nor Bosch has lost his touch."―Christian DuChateau, CNN
"Harry Bosch is as formidable as he ever was."―Sherryl Connelly, New York Daily News
"Connelly's writing is like the best flavor of ice cream: reliably delicious every time."―Jeff Ayers, Associated Press
About the Author
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I have read every one of Michael Connelly's novels, and I have always identified with Harry Bosch. We are of similar age, and I grew up in Southern California, so it's a very familiar location. When it comes to investigations, I wasn't in his league, but I worked with some of the finest detectives in the Pacific Northwest, whose passion and approach paralleled Harry's. So I truly "get" Harry Bosch.
"The Burning Room" is Harry Bosch (and Michael Connelly) at his very finest. There is nothing contrived or artificial in the plot, the characters are sharply-drawn when required, and sufficiently murky when not. The plot includes real events from Los Angeles history, which are woven seamlessly into the cold cases Harry and his new partner, Detective Lucia Soto, as assigned to solve.
I pre-ordered this novel last week, downloaded it onto my Kindle early Thursday morning, and finished it just now (Saturday morning).
Even though it felt like the experience ended too soon, I didn't feel cheated by how "The Burning Room" ended...it finished with the perfect tone, nothing bogus about it.
If you are a fan of Harry Bosch novels, I predict you will enjoy every minute of "The Burning Room". One caveat to my glowing recommendation: If this is the first Harry Bosch novel you plan to read, it won't have nearly the same emotional impact as it will for devoted followers. Yes, it stands on its own, but "The Burning Room" truly benefits from context.
Harry is still working in the Open/Unsolved Section, trying to solve old homicides cases. In a peculiar twist of fate a victim dies and he is given the case...even though the man just died, it stemmed from a shooting ten years earlier, so even though it is a recent death it is also a case that has long been cold. Connelly does a very good job here in showing how advances in technology can be used to look at old crimes with new eyes, and it is this new analysis that allows Harry and his young partner to begin making headway on a case other gave up on long ago. It's not all just forensics, techo-babble and desk-jockeying, however, as Harry applies some old school murder investigation techniques and lots of footwork to rout out old secrets and uncover hidden sins.
Running parallel to the new case is an even older case, a twenty-year-old fire set at an apartment house which resulted in the deaths of nine people, most of them children. Harry's new partner was one of the few children who survived the fire. That fire and her survival not only made her the person she is, but also consumed her thoughts, so that when she was first assigned to Open/Unsolved (at her request) after being made a detective she began a covert investigation on her own. Though she tries to keep Harry out of her private case, his old-fashioned ideas of loyalty bring him into her secret quest for justice, redemption, and the expiation of guilt.
Running two very different investigations concurrently does tend to stretch the narrative a little thin in places, relegating much of Harry's personal life and concerns to the distant background. Connelly does a great job maintaining a balance between the two cases. He is also successful in setting a good pace, not letting either investigation lag or rush to a hurried conclusion. Fans of the character and the series will certainly enjoy the book. At the same time, readers encountering Harry Bosch for the first time will find Harry's often reflective nature a motivation to go back and start at the beginning. Both new and veteran readers will find the book a satisfying read, a story that succeeds because of Harry Bosch, one of the great detective characters of the modern age.
Top international reviews
Harry Bosch is in his final year as a detective in the Los Angeles Police before facing mandatory retirement. He is still working in the Open-Unsolved (i.e. cold case) unit. However, he has been given a new partner, a young rookie detective, Lucia Soto. The way these two characters get to know each other as they start working together is one aspect of the story that I feel Connelly has captured really well. You have the street wise, experienced 'old hand' (Bosch) and the enthusiastic, smart, hard-working, eager to the point of driven, rookie, Soto. Not unexpectedly, things do not go well at first between them but Bosch warms to the task once he notices the different skills and insights that Soto brings to the cases they are working on.
At first the story appears to be a traditional police procedural novel; Bosch and Soto get involved in two intriguing cold cases. The first involves a Latino street musician who was a survivor in a drive-by shooting 10 years earlier for whom no-one was apprehended. He has now died from the gunshot wound of that drive-by shooting and the issue for Bosch and Soto is how to solve a case 10 years after the initial incident that ultimately contributed to the death of the musician? The second case relates to the death of nine children in a fire that occurred 20 years ago - a case in which Soto has a personal interest. Bosch and Soto are however facing more than just difficulties arising from a paucity of evidence for these crimes, they also face political interference from the powers that be who seem intent on making it almost impossible for these cases to be solved.
As with all of Connelly's Bosch stories, the writing is crisp and easy to follow and the tension builds as the plots develop. But besides the brilliant characterisation of Bosch and Soto, and the insightful observations of their lives from the perspectives of one approaching retirement while the other is setting off with hope and optimism for a bright and successful career, what really caught me totally off-guard was the ending ... I just did not see it coming.
So, if you enjoy intelligent, police procedural stories based on great characters and a clever plot then I expect you will enjoy this story, even if you have not read any of the Harry Bosch stories to date. However, if you, like me, have been following Bosch's career from the start of the first novel (The Black Echo), through to this one, then you will find this story reveals yet another dimension of Bosch's character and, like an old friend, you will no doubt empathise with the situations he faces throughout the course of this fantastic novel. In short, a brilliant 'who dunnit' to settle down with and enjoy.
Harry and his partner Lucia 'Lucky' Soto are assigned a cold case that is still rather warm compared to most, the victim has only just died, ten years after a stray bullet hit him in an apparent drive by shooting. After pressure from the brass to make this a priority due to impending political elections, Harry and Lucia start digging into the history of the case (treading on toes as expected) to find how a lowly Mariachi band member ending up catching possibly a not so random bullet. While working this not so new cold case Harry also helps his partner solve a cold case that set her on the path to becoming a detective herself. What follows is the usual kind of conspiracy tale, with a few twists, that we have comes to know from a Bosch novel.
But the book then stutters a little and whilst the path to the end of the novel is fine, it isn't terribly gripping, it's predictable and eventually all fizzles out. Plus there is a hugely signposted moment which you just know is going to cause Harry a problem further down the line, and sure enough, it does. It's old ground about Harry's maverick ways coming back to haunt him which is getting tired now. Plus Connelly doesn't seem to know what to do with Harry's personal life, although his teenage daughter Maddy is often featured in The Burning Room, it just highlights the fact she is virtually bringing herself up on her own and seems remarkably well balanced for somebody who has had to live her life the way she has, particularly when losing her mother the way she did years ago.
The best we get is that Harry feels guilty about the lack of time he spends with his daughter, but soon gets over it and cracks on with the case. It isn't satisfying for his dedicated fans.
The one big positive though, is Lucy Soto. After going through a good number of partners in recent years, I hope Connelly has some plans for Soto, as the interplay between her and Harry is a real highlight. She gets a tight backstory and has plenty of motivation to carry on Bosch's "mission", so it would be good to see her take over where Harry leaves off when he inevitably retires.
Compared to the earlier Harry Bosch novels, where Connelly is absolutely at the top of his game, recent efforts have been more variable. The Burning Room is well worth a read and there are some great elements, but overall it isn't the best Bosch story you'll ever read.
If you want to try a Michael Connolly book for the first time, don't buy this one but try all the other ones, you will not regret it .
This said, it is a nice quick read, but you lose nothing if you skip this book.
I liked this novel as it focuses on the investigation. I think some of the discoveries they make are a little fortuitous but the plot is king and it held my attention throughout - Mr Connelly has a tortuous imagination and a great ability to pull many disparate strands together.
I didn't find The Burning Room as thought provoking as The Drop or as action packed as some of the previous novels but I did find it as engrossing as all Mr Connelly's work so I have no hesitation in recommending it as a good read.
This is one of my favourite books in the series. What I liked most is that it is all about solving the crimes. There is very little padding and in a book of nearly 400 pages, that is quite an achievement. I found it enthralling to follow Bosch and Soto as they sift through the evidence and begin to build their cases. There is no big revelation at the end, but there are plenty of surprises along the way and all the cases are resolved satisfactorily.
Harry Bosch might be coming to the end of his time with LAPD but I hope Michael Connolly still has plans for him. My favourite fictional detective is far too good to retire.
But he's definitely getting on a bit, and there's a certain weariness in Bosch at having to go through the motions and jump through bureaucratic hoops. The reason this is a 3-star review is because I sense a similar weariness in some of Michael Connelly's writing. There remains some brilliant observations, and the story will maintain readers' interest until the final page, but there are also some glaring examples of hurried and unimaginative prose: "Bosch once called a detective in St. Louis in preparation for a trip there to make an arrest for murder. Little did he know that he was talking to a man who happened to be related by marriage to the person Bosch was coming to arrest. Bosch didn't learn of this connection until after he got there and found the suspect had fled the night before." It might seem unfair to pick out such an example without context, but this and other paragraphs like it stand out only because most of Connelly's writing is so vivid.
I hope that Bosch returns soon, and that his familiar passion for life and its challenges is matched by a renewed sparkle in the storytelling.
Working together they find a link and are able to close both cases. Very absorbing read. It is left open at the end, and you will want to read the next chapter.