Tuesday, April 5, 2011

#BookReview: 'The Fifth Witness' by Michael Connelly

The novelist is in full control of the courtroom drama as Mickey Haller represents a woman facing home foreclosure who's accused of murdering a banker.

Michael Connelly's richly entertaining new novel, "The Fifth Witness," features defense attorney Mickey Haller, who operates out of the big armor-plated Lincoln he acquired from some lowlife in lieu of a fee and who seems, for the moment, to have replaced detective Harry Bosch as this immensely successful writer's go-to narrative guy. Haller (recently portrayed by Matthew McConaughey in the movie "The Lincoln Lawyer") has given Connelly's career an adrenaline boost (not that it really needed one) and introduced a rich, new narrative seam: the courtroom drama, a genre custom-made for Connelly's gifts of character observation and unobtrusive yet driving story development.

"The Fifth Witness" opens with Haller having it rough. "Criminal defense had virtually dried up in the down economy. Of course crime wasn't down. In Los Angeles, crime marched through any economy. But paying customers were few and far between. It seemed as though nobody had money to pay any lawyer," he tells us, explaining why — with his bills to pay, an estranged wife, and a 14-year-old daughter who fancies going to USC — he's been forced to mine one of the few growth industries in contemporary law: foreclosure defense. He's churning clients at "four or five grand a pop," helping people to hold onto their homes, at least for a little longer. One such small case blows up big, however, when Lisa Trammel, his very first foreclosure client, is charged with the murder of the banker who's trying to take away her home.

Read the Complete Review by Richard Rayner
Source: Los Angeles Times

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