'Brass Verdict' is suspenseful and fast paced

October 21, 2008 12:39:46 PM PDT
Michael Connelly is hard on his heroes. They are always getting shot, stabbed, bludgeoned, kidnapped, blown up or run over. And given the emotional trauma he subjects them to, physical injury is often the least of it.

Mickey Haller, the sleazy criminal lawyer Connelly introduced in "The Lincoln Lawyer" (2005), was so shattered by the end of that novel that it has taken him more than two years to heal. Now, after recovering from a gunshot wound - and the cosmic shock of discovering there are ethical lines he won't cross - Mickey is ready to return to the courtroom.

As "The Brass Verdict" opens, he's scratching to get his law practice going again. But when an old colleague is murdered, leaving his thriving practice to Mickey, our flawed hero is suddenly awash in cases. Chief among them is the Hollywood celebrity murder trial of Walter Elliot, a hot producer accused of shooting his unfaithful wife and her lover.

Mickey throws himself into the work, wondering all the while which of the cases he's inherited may have gotten his old friend killed.

That's what Harry Bosch wants to know, too, and it's his job to find out. Harry is the haunted, menacing Los Angeles homicide detective who has somehow managed to survive the violence of 13 of Connelly's crime novels including "The Overlook" (2007).

Harry badgers Mickey, pressing him to give up confidential information about his clients. Worried about his own safety, Mickey doesn't break, but he does bend, giving Harry more than he should.

It was inevitable that Mickey and Harry, Connelly's most memorable creations, would wind up in the same book. Working opposite sides of the law in Los Angeles, they were bound to run into one another eventually. Besides, as Harry and the reader know, they are half brothers, a fact of which Mickey remains unaware.

Although Harry plays a major role, "The Brass Verdict" is Mickey's book. Harry wanders on and off stage, but Mickey is ever present, narrating the story. The tale is suspenseful and fast paced, except when Connelly gets bogged down in tedious details of legal procedure.

As always, Harry is an avenging angel, seeking justice at any cost. Mickey, on the other hand, still sees the justice system as "a contest of lies" in which the only thing anyone cares about is winning.

But since discovering in "The Lincoln Lawyer" that he is not entirely without ethics, this bothers Mickey now. He still plays fast and loose with the rules, but now he does it in the interest of justice.

That makes Mickey a lot like most other fictional lawyers from Scott Truro's characters to TV's "Shark." He was more interesting when he was a total sleaze, but now that he has discovered he has standards, there's no going back.


Load Comments