I am hard cringing at how much I disliked this book. I feel bad for it, I feel like it tried really hard and all I can keep saying is that it needs to do better. There are continuity problems galore, the fact that even though the years are passing (it’s been at least 3-4 years since the last book) that Bosch and his daughter Maddie are still the same age. We have Bosch investigating two cases (not related) and he stupidly gets in trouble for something that was not necessary at all except that I think Connelly wanted it that way. There are way too many police/science facts in this one. It felt like Connelly wanted to re-explain everything to a new reader who had never read a Bosch book before. I am usually a fan of every book needs to stand alone. But in this case, it’s an ongoing series, if you start with book #19 and get completely lost, that’s on you. I just found myself becoming more and more bored just reading about every little thing related to two separate cases.
Let’s get to it shall we?
In “The Burning Room” we have Bosch more than a year away from being done with his DROP (when he will have to retire from the LAPD and leave the Open/Unsolved unit he is part of) and he is starting to wonder why is he still plugging away at cases when the LAPD as he knows it has changed. Honestly, Bosch reminds me a bit of Poirot in the last couple of Poirot books. Poirot/Bosch both feel like they are still the smartest men around. Based on the last few books, you get the sense that Bosch believes he is the only one that cares about a murderer being brought to justice. And if he doesn’t do everything involved with a case, it will end up fouled up. Bosch still doesn’t get computers and hates how the police force has become more tech savvy and that people don’t go out and knock on doors anymore. Connelly implies via Bosch that the police have gotten more lazy as more sophisticated methods have come into play via forensic science. Considering the fact that in the end someone gets killed (that didn’t have to) because Bosch talked to someone he shouldn’t have, one wonders if maybe Bosch wouldn’t have been better tied to a desk.
Bosch also has a new partner in this one named Lucia Soto. Lucia we find is promoted up the ranks after a shootout involving her and her now dead partner. Lucia jumps over several other detectives to take a prime seat at Open/Unsolved with Bosch. If the book had focused on resentment from Bosch or others towards Lucia it would have been a better book. Instead Bosch opines about it, but honestly, that has nothing to do with anything. I felt there was a lot of that in this book.
If you are waiting to hear about where David Chu went, too bad. He is never mentioned at all. And speaking of Chu, we have some continuity errors here when Bosch speaks to Soto about previous partners. Bosch only references one partner getting shot and recovering (Kiz) and another one who killed himself (Sheenan who we know didn’t kill himself, he was murdered). But Bosch doesn’t bring up Iggie at all which I found cold. And he also doesn’t mention Chu or J. Edgar.
Between the partner continuity issues and the ever increasing Maddie doesn’t age at all in these books, I wish that Connelly would start tracking things a bit better. I have no idea how Maddie is only 17 in this book when at least 3-4 years has passed since the last book in the series, “The Black Box” when she was 15. And somehow Bosch never dances towards more than late 50s in these books. He has to be at least 64 years old at the time of this book. Okay, moving on.
There are not a lot of interesting people in this one I found. There is no real development with Soto beyond why she’s interested in one case. We find out that Harry’s long term girlfriend dumped him between books due to him not supporting her son’s parole. Which honestly, who was this woman who didn’t know that wasn’t going to happen? I think that Harry and Hannah had an interesting relationship and I hate that everything dealing with it happened off screen. But hey, we have another potential love interest in this one who I felt blah about.
We do get two people who reappear in this one from prior books. We get to see Rachel Walling again. I really want her to just tell Bosch to shove off since he only calls when he wants something. It appears that Rachel is happy and in a relationship though. We have a former Open/Unsolved detective (Jackson) that was in the last book giving Harry some details and that’s about it.
I wasn’t grabbed by the two cases that Lucia and Bosch were investigating. I thought that in both cases the solutions came about just a bit too easily, ie. in one case someone told them how/why someone was killed and then all they do is do research/interview to confirm this person’s account. I don’t get why Bosch held things back from his commander (I never get that) and at one point Bosch stupidly breaks into someone’s office for a freaking case file because he couldn’t wait until the next day to get it from that person. I honestly felt like most of this book was just a set-up to get to the next book in the Bosch series.
The writing was repetitive. If you want to read about how Bosch looks on in horror at something, enjoy. If you want to read about how Bosch doesn’t know how to use computers and depended on his partners to be in charge of all of that, enjoy. If you want to read about Bosch’s constant guilt about not being around for his daughter (and honestly not changing any of his habits to be there more), enjoy.
The flow was off from beginning to end. Connelly can usually juggle two cases and make them pop. But honestly, there was just too much happening that were separate from each other to focus on the story that Connelly wants to tell in this one.
I thought the endings to both cases was a disappointment. Especially because Bosch’s actions end up costing him a bit too much at the end of this book.