It took me all of six hours to read the 19th Harry Bosch novel The Burning Room, published last year by author Michael Connelly. Harry Bosch is the police detective main character of most of Michael Connelly’s novels, but nobody calls them Michael Connelly novels. Even the book cover of The Burning Room calls it a Harry Bosch novel.
The Burning Room is a good Bosch novel; there is no dumb trip overseas to China, no tiresome scenes of Harry lamenting his wife and daughter. A few books in the Harry Bosch series were bogged down in bullshit one cannot imagine halting a Philip Marlowe or Lew Archer. Harry still has a daughter, but she’s a snarky teen now, with no time for dippy dad. Harry’s got a new partner Lucy Soto and she is good at her job. The crime(s) in The Burning Room are interesting, and riding along with Bosch and Soto makes for a good time. And the last chapter surprised me; surprise is as rare as cactus in Vermont in genre novels like The Burning Room.
I don’t remember much of the previous 18 Bosch novels but I enjoyed reading most of them and look forward to the future novels. These are slick books made to go down easy, beach reads, summer books, whatever. Great books offer more than fleeting enjoyment, and they tap the parts of the brain a book like The Burning Room cannot. Connelly is the best alive at this sort of writing, perfect for when the brain needs a break.
By this time a thousand different kinds of brightly colored birds began to warble in the trees, and with their varied and joyous songs they seemed to welcome and greet the new dawn, who, through the doors and balconies of the Orient, was revealing the beauty of her face and shaking from her hair an infinite number of liquid pearls whose gentle liquor bathed the plants that seemed, in turn, to send forth buds and rain down tiny white seed pearls; the willows dripped their sweet-tasting manna, the fountains laughed, the streams murmured, the woods rejoiced, and the meadows flourished with her arrival. But as soon as the light of day made it possible to see and distinguish one thing from another, the first thing that appeared before Sancho Panza’s eyes was the nose of the Squire of the Wood, which was so big it almost cast a shadow over the rest of his body. In fact, it is recounted that his nose was outlandishly large, hooked in the middle, covered with warts, and of a purplish color like an eggplant; it came down the width of two fingers past his mouth, and its size, color, warts, and curvature made his face so hideous that when Sancho saw him his feet and hands began to tremble, like a child having seizures, and he decided in his heart to let himself be slapped two hundred times before he would allow his anger to awaken and then fight with that monster.
from Part 2 Chapter XIV of Don Quixote
Part 1 of Don Quixote features a few interpolated stories within the main novel–these are tales of love and betrayal, of escape and daring, which feature secondary characters, and don’t directly involve Don Quixote or Sancho Panza.
I favor the Zoraida story, of Zoraida’s soliciting Christian prisoners to help her escape from her father and be delivered to a Christian land. Zoraida was converted to Christianity by a beloved nanny and kept the secret from her pious Moor father. The planning and escape from Algiers to Spain is great adventure, and the tale of it, told at the inn, where all matters of confluence have brought together all the parties from all the stories within Don Quixote, including all the beautiful damsels in distress, never tires.