The Burning Room by Michael Connelly: A review

Harry Bosch has already retired from the LAPD once, but he came back when they offered a "deferred retirement" program in order to staff up the department. Harry signed on for another five years. Now he is in his 60s and is nearing the end of that five year assignment. He has just about a year to go and he's anxious to solve as many cases as he can during the time he has left, because, as we who have followed him through the years know, solving cases is his life and his calling. How will he fill his time when this last year is finally up?

Harry has a new partner for his final year. She is Lucia Soto, a young detective still in her 20s but one who has shown some grit during her short tenure with LAPD. In the previous year, she was involved in a gangland shootout in which her partner and some of the gang members were killed. She survived and became known within the department as Lucky Lucy.

Bosch is still working in the Open-Unsolved Unit, dealing mostly with long-dead victims, but now he and Soto have been assigned a unique case in which the victim has just died.

The victim was a mariachi band member who had been shot ten years earlier while waiting on Mariachi Plaza for a gig. There were lots of bands present there at the time and the detectives assigned to investigate were never able to establish any motive for shooting the man. It was thought that it might have been an accidental shooting. Perhaps the bullet was intended for someone else.

The musician survived the attack but a bullet lodged in his spine and could not be removed. He was paralyzed and suffered many health complications over the years because of the bullet. Now, after ten years, he has died as a result of those complications and his death has been ruled a murder. 

Meanwhile, it turns out that Soto has an agenda of her own. On her own time, she is investigating a crime that occurred twenty years before, when she was seven years old. She was in an unlicensed day care center in the basement of an apartment building, when a Molotov cocktail was thrown into the trash chute of the building setting it on fire. Many of Soto's little friends and a favorite caregiver were killed in the fire and smoke, but Soto survived. Lucky Lucy. Now she is trying to solve the unsolved crime and bring some justice for the dead.

The investigation turns up the fact that at the same time the fire occurred, there was an armed robbery at a nearby check cashing establishment. Soto and Bosch begin to suspect that the two crimes may be related; the fire may have been intended as a diversion from the robbery.

Time has not mellowed Bosch, although it seems that he may develop a soft spot for Soto because she is just as old-school and hard-nosed as he is. But his rage against the police administration and against politicians continues unabated and it seems clear from the beginning that he's going to end up in trouble again.

It really is such a pleasure to watch the way Bosch's (Connelly's) mind works as he lays out the process of the investigation and takes us step by step through it all to its logical conclusion. As a writer of police procedurals, Michael Connelly really is unparalleled.

My rating: 4 of 5 stars 


  1. Hi Dorothy - hope to see you with this (and other) reviews for Books You Loved JUne - which has just posted. Cheers from Carole's Chatter

  2. It is a a good thing this entry is another winner in the Harry Bosch saga. What are you going to do without him when you reach the end?! ;-)

    1. I'll probably catch up before the end of the year, but Connelly's still writing them and shows no signs of slowing down, so it's all good for now.

  3. Tonight I was at the Laura's Group reading group. Laura is a real estate agent and a personal friend of Connelly. He comes up at almost every meeting. Tonight they were talking about the TV series. My husband loves all these books especially because they are set in our city. And yes, he is still writing! I have that on good authority!!

    1. We're watching the third season of the series now. It's very well done, I think, but I find it confusing at times because it is different from the books and sometimes combines elements from different books to fill out the story lines. Titus Welliver, who plays Bosch, is very good in the role.


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