The Burning Room, by Michael Connelly / ****

dfpburningroombooI’ve been reading Michael Connelly’s Harry Bosch books for more than 15 years now – maybe closer to 20 – so maybe it’s a little hard for me to entirely be objective about the series. After all, one of the great joys of the Bosch books is the way that Bosch has aged in “real time,” to the point where he’s now really only allowed into the department on the basis of a program designed to keep veteran detectives on the force, even when they’re past their usual retirement age. But moving Bosch to the cold case investigation unit was one of Connelly’s best moves of the series; while investigating old cases doesn’t always allow Connelly to comment on current events like the series often would, it still fits perfectly with Bosch’s personality: a man dedicated to justice above all else, even at the cost of his personal relationships and happiness. Now we have the 21st Bosch book, The Burning Room, in which Bosch looks into two cases simultaneously: the death of a man whose shooting became a political movement and an apartment fire that killed a slew of people. Juggling two different cases could easily overwhelm the book, but Connelly makes it look easy, switching back and forth between the cases effortlessly before drawing everything to a close in a way that feels thematically right. The end of the book hints that we’re moving into a new chapter of the Bosch series, and I’m okay with that; while I enjoyed The Burning Room a lot, it feels like a solid but unremarkable entry in the series, and reads as though Connelly is reaching the end of his interest in the world of cold cases. That’s not to say that The Burning Room is a bad book – it’s not – but it doesn’t really crackle the way that Bosch books do at their best, and sometimes feels a little more phoned in I’d like. It’s still a good mystery, and the climax is satisfying in a variety of ways, but I’m more curious to see what happens next. If you can say nothing else about the Bosch books, you can say that they’ve always been willing to change up the status quo and evolve with the times, and I’m glad to see what the next phase holds.


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