The burning room by Michael Connelly (Orion)

burning room

“Deep down Bosch knew the dead were the dead and they no longer suffered the cruelties of life.”

I lIKE Harry, he is the sort of detective you might want on your block, ex-Vietnam ‘gator, single parent, coffee obsessive, jazz-listener, been round the block, a quiet guy. As he says:

“The good ones all had that hollow space inside. The empty place where the fire burns. For something. Call it justice. Call it the need to know. Call it the need to believe that those who are evil will not remain hidden in darkness forever”.

The chapters are organised like police reports, a masterclass in storytelling: the body, the background, the team, the press, visit the crime scene, etc…

Connelly belongs to that old Hollywood adage: tell ’em what you are going to do, then tell ’em what you are doing, and then tell ’em what you just did.  It is a complex tale he weaves which starts with the seemingly random shooting of a Mariachi player. There is also a backdrop of troubles at the LAPD with threats to pensions, cuts in budgets, shady deals with street gangs, doubts about the honesty of the new intake of officers. The decline is mirrored by the shrivelling of the press, somewhat bitterly noted, because Connelly himself once trod his beat as a crime reporter.

We are in the dark waters where politics and murder meet. You get little tips as you go: The plan was…This would be important…which is sort of handy if you are reading in chunks.

Connelly can’t write really, or he overwrites. Harry walks through a door marked Entrance. But that also gives an edge of realism. He sounds like what he is, a detecto.

Literally, in one instance, he sniffs out a miscreant from the smell of coffee and the ping of a text message.

It is slated to go to a TV series and this will make fine TV. The producers will not have the publisher’s qualms and will slash out the verbiage while the camera hoovers up pages of description and leave us with the core of substantial characters and tangled plot lines. The book form feels like a bit of cultural archeology, but as Harry confides to his new sidekick Lucky Lucy: “Cases are made with patience…not lightning strikes.” Good novels too.

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About drewsmith28

Words, words, words...
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