Michael Connelly - 9780446616454
It's no secret that Connelly is my favorite crime fiction writer. With this book he introduces a new character and a slightly altered genre. Written in 2005, it has drawn new interest because of the 2011 movie now in theatres. Instead of the usual detective, Mickey Haller is a criminal defense lawyer who practices at the margins of the law; aggressive, creative, cynical and tough. There is little Haller cherishes after 10 years of dealing with innumerable denizens of the planet, guiding their cases thru the miasma of present day law which long ago became a game having little to do with truth, justice, or even honesty; eroded "like the faces of statues from other civilizations." Law is now about manipulations, negotiations and the art of the deal. Avoid trial, especially if the client has little money; sell him a shorter sentence and count on an early out. Find a wealthy client and drag out the proceedings to create more billable hours; ride the gravy train. Cops and lawyers cheat, money is a principal driving force, even judges get paid for influencing trial outcomes. Wanna be a judge? Get a piece of paper from some law school, pass the bar, make the proper contributions to the right people and you might just be in. Ideals have been downgraded to notions, and notions themselves are frequently optional. Overall, it's an earthy, accurate and well deserved critique from the inside of contemporary law, from a man who knows; a little disparaging, perhaps, but not really that far off of the map.
What I find most interesting is that Connelly's writing keeps improving. Most writers get stale, formulaic and boring--even sloppy. Some prominent writers take in subordinate partners to do most of the writing which is then sold under their famous names. Not Connelly. This might just be his best novel, and he's passed 20 at last count.
Another reviewer commented that the plot has more curves than Mulholland drive (L.A.s famous serpentine.) He's right. It is a creative, artful plot by a talented, experienced writer. Mickey acquires a high profile, wealthy client facing a serious charge. He sees his chance to author a really big payday. Along the way, however, he discovers true evil and the purity of true innocence; he comes nose to nose with his legendary father's axiom that "there is no client as scary as an innocent man."
In order to free an innocent he risks his license, even his freedom by working behind the scenes to set up another client who personifies pure evil. Along the way, between the covers, is a satisfying page turner. It's not that you can't put it down; it's that you don't want to, and resist the urge except for otherwise unavoidable activities.