The Burning Room – Michael Connelly

Harry Bosch, one of the classiest defective detectives, makes a return to action in this somewhat mixed tale of the Open Unsolved Unit.

On the plus side, there is the crime to be solved: a musician dies from complications of a gunshot suffered ten years previously. The death allows the recovery of the bullet – lodged dangerously in his spine – giving a rare piece of forensic evidence that Bosch and his partner can use to restart the investigation.

And that’s also on the plus side: Bosch’s new partner, Lucia Soto, is a rookie detective with an interesting background and some baggage. Their workings as a team are well done, and nicely build up the pair of them as characters with depth.

Also on the plus side is the start of the plot, and the way it spirals in a surprising direction. Unfortunately, I was less than convinced by the time the ending came along, as I felt the story got lost a wee bit in the middle. It definitely picks up well in the last quarter.

LA, LAPD, politics, and corruption are all here in the usual and expected places. The author knows his city well, and does his usual excellent job of bringing all these elements to life without sounding like a tour guide or political commentator.

There were times – perhaps because the plot had gone soft in the middle – that the book was less enthralling than I have come to expect from this author. Mundane is the word that comes to mind. (Of course, this is ridiculous, because the work being described is anything but mundane. However, reading as much crime fiction as I do, my sense of perspective is skewed. So, to me, it’s mundane.) But, as mentioned above, at some point there is a return of that page turning experience we all love.

In short, glad I read it. Not one of his best, but given the incredibly high standards of his output, still pretty damn good. If you are a Connelly fan, you will want to read it. If you are not a Connelly fan, don’t bother. If you have yet to discover Connelly, start elsewhere.