The Burning Room (Harry Bosch, #19) - Michael Connelly

Detective Harry Bosch catches a case with an odd twist in this 19th instalment to the series. Ten years ago, Orlando Merced took a bullet to the spine that rendered him paraplegic. Yesterday, he died. Now it's not just a cold case, it's homicide.

Harry is currently in the last year of his DROP contract, working unsolved cases with new partner Lucia "Lucky Lucy" Soto. He's uneasy about their latest assignment & with good reason. 

When Merced was shot, he became the poster boy for LA's minority victims & was used as a stepping stone by Armando Zeyas in his run for mayor. Zeyas served two terms & was no friend to the LAPD. Then there's Lucy. She may be relatively new to the job but is high profile due to a gang shooting that left her former partner dead. 

Pressure to close the case begins immediately & when Zeyas offers a $50,000 reward it quickly becomes a media sensation. It also guarantees the tip lines will be flooded by crazies offering up everyone from aliens to their mother-in-law as the shooter. 

The bullet from Merced's spine breathes new life into the investigation. As Harry & Lucy dig, they soon realize it was much more than a random drive-by.

To complicate things, Lucy reveals she is quietly working another famous crime that went unsolved. In 1993, a block of apartments in Bonnie Brae went up in flames resulting in multiple deaths. Most were from a day care in the basement. It was assumed to be gang related but Lucy has a personal connection. Harry agrees to help, a decision he may come to regret. 

 

If you're a fan, these books come with high expectations & this one delivers in spades. An intricate plot combined with expert pacing ensures readers are hooked from the get-go. Characters range from cops & robbers to innocent bystanders & dirty politicians. All are well developed bringing an authentic feel to the backdrop of a city that is always humming with racial tension. As plot lines converge, a bigger picture emerges giving a sense of just what is at stake. Solving the cases may be the least of Harry's worries as he deals with ambitious colleagues & department politics. 

Great storytelling aside, the main draw is the character of Harry Bosch. He's a complex guy. As a cop, he's smart, intuitive & driven. Connelly allows us to ride shotgun, privy to Harry's thoughts as he follows the clues.

But he is also a man facing impending retirement from a job that has defined him for decades. His world expanded when daughter Maddie moved in but soon even she won't need him as she heads for college. The clock is ticking & he finds himself savouring every moment, unable to imagine how he'll fill the empty hours. 

 

Tension rises in the last half as clever plot twists emerge & the pair plug away to solve their cases. There are some big surprises in store & not everyone will get what they karmically deserve.

But perhaps the biggest surprise is reserved for readers in the final few pages. It's bound to illicit one last gasp & guarantees we'll be waiting impatiently for #20.

So don't pick this up unless you have a few hours to spare. It's a keeper.