Abraham Lincoln is revered by lawyers everywhere for his courtroom skills and practical wisdom. The Lincoln Michael Connelly refers is not Abraham, but rather the automobile.
Mickey Haller, son of an original Los Angeles superstar lawyer, owns several. At times the limousine business seems preferable to his own. But finally he gets, to his eternal regret the "franchise case", the kind of case that not only pays the bills but causes other clients to want his services.
A young rich real estate broker is charged in the attempted murder of a hooker. His insistence in his innocence causes Haller to realize he may have what he has always dreaded, the actually innocent client. But he finds his defense efforts in disarray as the case sours, and he himself becomes a murder suspect.
Non-lawyers usually do not write good legal thrillers. Michael Connelly, a former reporter and America's best mystery writer, is the exception that proves the rule. He has a great ear for the courtroom and a sense of the professional and economic dilemmas trial lawyers face.
I will say this, however, in real life no matter how secret the client confidence, lawyers are ethically able to access the expertise necessary to know how to respond to any dilemma in an ethically sound way. The real Mickey Haller would have picked up the phone to the Bar's hotline for an ethics opinion. That simple act would have destroyed a helluva tale.
I hope we will see more of Haller. He has his demons but he is not as dark a protagonist as Harry Bosch. The reality is, in his first legal thriller, Connelly has produced a book every bit as good as John Grisham's A Time To Kill. That is saying a lot.
Mickey Haller is a dirty-shirt criminal defense lawyer who cleans up well. He has a narrow life that is lived within the parameters of the criminal justice "machine". His friends are investigators, bail bondsmen, and other lawyers. His principal challenge is finding enough clients to enable him to make the mortgage payments and otherwise cope with the high cost of living in LA. That focus predisposes him to cut some ethical corners, ignore some people who should be more central to his life, and put aside questions about purpose and the higher good. It's all about the buck.
The buck is all Mickey sees when he lands a wealthy client accused of assault and attempted rape. He worries that the case will be too easy, and his chance for a big score will evaporate in an early plea or a dismissal. However, that turns out not to be the case as Mickey's "franchise" client leads him through a troubling hall of mirrors that both continually distorts the truth and leaves Mickey staring at reflections of himself that he would rather not acknowledge.
This novel is well written and imaginative, and contains some surprising plot twists. It also has some story elements that just don't hang together. There's no credible explanation for why exactly this case fell into Mickey's lap. The surprise climax left me saying, "aw, c'mon!" In the end, the solution was a lot short of what I stayed up until 3 in the morning hoping to see revealed.
But then again, the story did keep me up reading until 3 in the morning. That doesn't happen often. Despite its flaws, this is a book to recommend.
This novel is definitely on a par with the best of the fifteen stories in Michael Connelly's Harry Bosch series; any initial disappointment that might be experienced by Bosch's fans when they discover that Connelly has at least temporarily abandoned Harry in favor of Mickey Haller, a criminal defense attorney whose seemingly guilty clients often benefit from police errors, will almost immediately be replaced by the recognition that Connelly has created another character at least as complex and interesting as Harry. Mickey's persona is almost the opposite of Harry's, for him the law is about the art of the possible, his clients are often individuals who are down on their luck and on the wrong side of the law. Harry concentrates on identifying the guilty in order to provide justice for the victims and their families; Mickey is afraid that some day he will be hired to defend a client whose innocence he will be incapable of recognizing and thus he will simply pursue the "best deal" as opposed to throwing all his effort into gaining a "not guilty" verdict.
The story opens with Mickey receiving a telephone call from Fernando Valenzuela (no, not the pitcher, but the bail bondsman) in his office while on his way to a court hearing for Harold Casey, a member of the Road Saints motorcycle gang who is awaiting trial on multiple drug and weapons charges. (The Lincoln Town Car which is his office is an integral element both in his life and also eventually becomes an important detail in the particular case which is at the center of this story.) Valenzuela alerts Mickey to the possibilty of a potential "franchise case", a big money case involving a high profile client who has been booked for aggravated assualt, gross bodily injury, and attempted rape and who is interested in having Mickey represent him. As Mickey investigates the case, he quickly decides that his defense of Louis Roulet, a Beverly Hills real estate salesman, will be one of the easiest cases of his career and in fact it may never even get to trial and thus deprive him of both the big payday and the publicity which he had hoped to receive. Several unexpected twists quickly occur, and when one of Mickey's good friends is murdered he realizes that instead of worrying about failing to recognize innocence when it confronts him, for the first time in his career he may instead be in mortal danger from the pure evil which is apparently behind the attack for which his client is on trial. All this is foreshadowed wonderfully very early in the book by the following brief injection of Mickey's mental commentary (the story is written entirely in the first person);
"Much of society thought of me as the devil but they were wrong. I was a greasy angel. I was the true road saint. I was needed and wanted. By both sides. I was the oil in the machine. I allowed the gears to crank and turn. I helped keep the engine of the system running.
But all of that would change with the Roulet case. For me. For him. And certainly for Jesus Menendez."
And during the rest of the story, as Mickey defends Roulet and we gradually discover who Jesus Menendez is and his relevance to this case, we watch the juxtaposition of guilt and innocence and the clash of good and evil as the assumptions at the heart of Mickey's existence are threatened. As the title of Part Two so deftly summarizes , Mickey has entered " a world without truth."
We also are gradually introduced to the important people in Mickey's life - his dead father (a lengendary defense attorney), his two ex-wives (both with central roles in this story) and the young daughter who he has neglected due to the press of his caseload. As the book proceeds, Connelly's meticulous research provides the reader with the same type of interesting detail regarding the legal system which the Bosch series provided regarding police procedures. (And as a bonus, Connelly's knowledge of detective work makes that aspect of this story very realistic.) Furthermore, the explicit and implicit observations about human nature and the human condition which are embedded throughout THE LINCOLN LAWYER added immensely to my enjoyment of the story. Several of Mickey's small time clients not only prove essential to the Roulet case as it unfolds but are intesting in their own right.
So this book is highly recommended, both for Michael Connelly fans and as an introduction to his work for new readers. Whether Harry Bosch and Mickey Haller eventually meet or the two series remain on totally independent tracks, It appears that the author has created interesting enough characters to form the basis for many future bestsellers. For the past several years my favorite legal procedurals are the series created by John Lescroart involving lawyer Dismas Hardy and detective Abraham Glitsky. These novels successfully combine background case development and courtroom drama with truly interesting characters (Abe, Diz and their associates, friends and families) whose lives are an integral element in the stories. This book is on a par with the best stories in that series, and should be very enjoyable for fans of both Connelly and Lescroart and in fact for all readers of legal thrillers.
Mickey Haller seems to be a good man. Like anyone, he has his flaws and he does what he can to make a living as a defense attorney. He confides that his father, who was also an attorney, had a place in his heart for helping the less fortunate. Many of these clients were women who resorted to prostitution as a desperate choice to survive. Mickey tries to follow his father's example.
Mickey does much of his work from the back seat of his Lincoln. His driver, Earl, is working off his fee for Mickey's successful defense in a case against him.
As the story progresses, Mickey is asked to defend wealthy real estate agent Louis Roulet from the accusation of aggravated assault and attempted rape against Reggie Campo, a woman Roulet met in a bar.
From the start, Mickey is skeptical of Roulet when he catches him in a number of lies about his past. Then, when Mickey sees a photo of Reggie, she bears a close resemblance to a young woman that Mickey's former client Jesus Mendez, was sent to prison for killing.
Mendez maintained his innocence and now Mickey wonders if Mendez could really be innocent. Mickey visits Mendez in jail and brings a number of photos, one of which is Rolet. What Mickey learns is that he's now dealing with a truly evil person.
The novel proceeds as the author, Michael Connelly, sets the parts in motion as if he is directing a play. Roulet is able to create a special reason for Mickey to win the case and set him free but he also admits to things in his past. Since there is an attorney-client privilege, Mickey cannot use this against Roulet.
To say that the award winning novel was well done is an understatement. The reader becomes involved in the story as if the reader was sitting in the front row of the jury box. We observe Mickey and wonder how he will provide justice for Roulet, a man he is defending.
Michael Connelly has written the perfect courtroom drama, this book is every bit as good as anything John Grisham wrote, back when he was on top of his game. Fans of Connelly's acclaimed Harry Bosch series will not be disappointed with this deviation away from Mr. Bosch. Connelly is demonstrating once again his fertile imagination and gifted story telling ability.
The Lincoln Lawyer is the story of a defining case in the life of a defense attorney surfeited by the excess of lowlifes around which his entire practice as been maintained. Twice divorced and cynical attorney Mickey Haller is that lawyer, and his biggest self-described fear is that he won't recognize an innocent client when hired by one. Somewhat of a contradiction, Mickey is in fact a principled lawyer who plays by the rules. The fact that his clients are all guilty doesn't seem to trouble him as much as mistakes made by the legal authorities, who arrest, investigate, and prosecute. Haller likens the prosecution's case to a set of spinning plates precariously balanced atop a thin dowel. In his mind, all Haller needs to do is knock one of those spinning plates down and the whole prosecution case crumbles with it. In Lincoln Lawyer, Haller believes he may have finally found an innocent client, not only that, but a wealthy client actually able to pay for a first class defense. Once committed to the defense Haller slowly discovers that unlike the bumbling rogues, scallywags, and ne'er-do-wells of his past, his new client may well be the very essence of evil, a man to truly fear. Not only is Haller's life in danger, so too are the lives of those closest to him.
Expertly crafted plot with characters that are well defined. This book flows seamlessly from one scene to the next and keeps you in the story with short intense chapters that make it impossible to put aside. And if just one measure of a good a book is how satisfied it leaves the reader, then this book is certainly one of the year's best. It is a book of suspense and drama that literally personifies the genre.
on September 22, 2006
This is one of those novels where the reviewers on this site simply give too much away- you will enjoy this book so much more if you don't read all the detailed reviews and let the twists and turns surprise you!!!
Its a great, fast-paced, exciting legal novel with all the elements for a fun and enjoyable read that you won't be able to put down!
As a litigator, I usually shy away from reading this genre (as you can tell by my reviews, most of which are historical fiction), but this wasn't too far-fetched and he clearly has a grasp of the legal system, detective work, and the way things "go down," so to speak. This was my first Michael Connelly novel and I am pleasantly surprised- really looking forward to reading more from this amazing writer.
I read over 150 mystery/thrillers in 2005 and I considered this to be the best one I read that year.
In this legal thriller, Connelly does everything right -- plot, characters, everything. I practiced law in Los Angeles for six years, and I consider the legal procedures in this novel to be highly realistic. This book is gritty, but so is criminal law in real life. This beats anything by Grisham or Turow. The trial scene at the end of the book is tremendously well done.
In particular, I recommend the audio version of this book, read by the excellent Adam Grupper. This is, quite simply, one of the best audiobooks that I have ever listened to. I normally don't enjoy audiobooks, but this one was first-rate.
Highly recommended to anybody who enjoys legal thrillers or thrillers in general.
on October 3, 2005
When I learned that Michael Connelly had determined to pen a legal thriller, I was more than a little worried. Here was the author who had delivered superlative Harry Bosch novels like The Closers, now stepping onto ground trodden nearly lifeless by the likes of Grisham and Martini.
To my delight, The Lincoln Lawyer turned out to be an excellent, gritty and powerful novel. Twice divorced and haunted by ghosts of lost cases past, cynical and ethically indistinct criminal lawyer Mickey Haller is a fine invention, at once fascinating, witty and sympathetic. I rather hope this unique character becomes Connelly's next Harry Bosch. (Promisingly, Haller is Bosch's half brother.)
The writing here is equal to or perhaps even better than Connelly's previous works, at times lyrical and nearly poetic, yet never encumbering superb storytelling. Mickey Haller's behind-the-scenes manipulations add sparkle to the courtroom drama, and a highly inventive twist is The Lincoln Lawyer's piece de resistance.
If you enjoy the richly researched detail and beautiful prose spun around the fabulous pageturner that is The Lincoln Lawyer, I also highly recommend Connelly's The Closers and The Poet as well as Mute by newcomer Brad Steel.
on October 4, 2005
I have long been a fan of Michael Connelly. As far as I'm concerned Connelly is in the top five of modern-day mystery writers. With each book I say to myself that "he just can't top this one." And I continue to be wrong. And The Lincoln Lawyer is no exception. It just has to be the absolute best Michael Connelly novel ever!
Criminal defense attorney, Mickey Haller is a Lincoln Lawyer; meaning he works out of the backseat of his Lincoln Town Car. He's never sure if he would be able to recognize innocence if it stood in front of him. And he's not necessarily concerned whether his clients are innocent or not.
A wealthy Beverly Hills realtor is arrested for attacking a woman in her home. This type of client is what Mick Haller calls a 'franchise case.' It's a big payday and the case appears to be an easy one. But after someone close to Mick is murdered, things become murky before they clear up. Mick is facing down pure evil and he'd better be at the top of his game if he wishes to get out of this case alive.
Armchair Interviews says: The Lincoln Lawyer has everything; great characters, scintillating plot, action, evil, gritty issues, ex-wives and a hero who is unlikely. It is a 15 on a score of one to ten!
Michael Connelley is well known as a master of the police procedural. In "The Lincoln Lawyer," he sets aside his very successful Harry Bosch character and instead focuses on Mickey Haller, a criminal defense attorney. Haller defends those most of us would consider lowlifes: drug dealers, pimps, prostitutes, burglars, garden-variety murderers. No TV cameras or celebrity journalists after his story: just the day to day workings of affording the accused a defense against the power of the state.
Haller doesn't lie for his clients. He doesn't want to know from them of their guilt or innocence. His focus is on defending them, working the system, insisting that the prosecution meet the heavy demands placed upon it.
Mickey does most of his work from the backseat of a Lincoln Town Car. Nothing nefarious in that: Haller has cases to cover in the numerous courts in the Los Angeles area. Working from the backseat of a Lincoln is a good idea and it provides, if you'll forgive the expression, a perfect vehicle for Connelley's genius.
One day, Haller gets the call his kind dream about: the possibility of a "franchise" case, a case that pays top fees and goes to trial. Haller is a bit puzzled because his client is the wealthy son of a wealthy real estate doyen and already has representation by a pricey, reputable civil lawyer. Mickey is the kind of guy who advertises on bus benches.
Louis Roulet ("roo-lay," you know) is accused of attacking a woman and threatening her with rape and murder. Within moments, Mickey Haller finds himself in a wonderland of ethics (yes, he has them), utter evil, ferretting out guilt and innocence and resolving his feelings about his ex-wife (who happens to be a prosecutor) and his young daughter.
The pace is set high at the outset and never slows down. Haller is in for a harrowing, frightening roller coaster rideer Connelley keeps piling it on. The plot has more twists and turns then a mountain road and Connelley never falters once.
Louis Roulet is pure evil, but as a criminal defense lawyer, Michael Haller is beholden to the system. The cops hate him; the prosecutors (except for his ex-wife) hate him. Mickey has his investigator, Raul Levin, and another ex-wife in his corner and a few other friends to call on.
How Haller meets and defeats evil is the essence of Connelley's story and he tells it brilliantly. Definitely a different kind of legal thriller and a welcome breath of fresh air. Connelley is simply brilliant and "The Lincoln Lawyer" is a feast for the reader.