The Burning Room, by Michael Connelly. Little, Brown. 401 pages. Hardcover $28.00, trade paperback $16.00 (available March 17).
The Los Angeles Police Department has a special, somewhat prestigious Open-Unsolved Unit. Harry Bosch, one of the most skilled and experienced hands in the department, has been assigned to it. His new partner, Lucia (“Lucy”) Soto is a comparative newcomer. This kind of pairing is a new policy for the unit, but Lucy’s selection over far more experienced officers rubs many the wrong way. However, having Harry as a mentor is just what she needs.
Lucy shares some of Harry’s old-school attitudes about police work, an attitude that bonds them, but she has a lot to learn.
Perhaps her youthful spark is just what Harry needs, too, as he recognizes that retirement, by choice or by regulation, is not far away.
The case: nine years before the present action, Orlando Merced, was shot. Over the years, the victim had suffered from many complications caused by that bullet lodged in his spine. Now that bullet has finally led to his death. So, it’s a fresh murder case without a fresh crime scene or corresponding evidence. The bullet, now removed from the corpse, is a beginning.
Investigating the shooting of the mariachi musician opens up a window on past crimes. Two of them happened on the same day, in the same neighborhood, within minutes of each other: the robbery of a check-cashing service called EZBank and a deadly fire in a low-end apartment building that housed an illegal day care business.
The day care fire, a decade earlier than the Merced shooting, has haunted Lucy. At the age of seven, she had lived there and escaped the tragedy. Her decision to become a police officer stems, in part, from this experience.
The arson case is also unsolved. Now, it is Lucy’s pet project, and she and Harry agree that they will split their working time between Lucy’s self-assigned case and the Merced case. They agree that the fire might have been set as a distraction to ensure the success of the simultaneous bank robbery.
The first major insight for the Merced investigation is the strong possibility that someone else was the intended victim – someone in the line of fire standing close to Orlando Merced. Once Harry and Lucy set out to identify and track down this individual, they find themselves involved in the swamp of bureaucracy and political corruption that is the hallmark of many Harry Bosch mysteries.
Getting too close to the truth about the past is likely to blow a hole in the present, especially in an election year – and especially when a former mayor now planning a race for the governorship is depending on money from a potentially compromised source. People who know too much might not live to share their knowledge. . . .
To read the entire review, as it appears in the March 4, 2015 Fort Myers Florida Weekly and the March 5 Naples, Bonita Springs, and Punta Gorda / Port Charlotte editions, click here: Florida Weekly – Burning Room.