The Law of Innocence | Book Review

A man is pulled over for driving without a license plate after leaving a bar. The officer notices a liquid dripping from the man’s trunk, and it looks like blood. Claiming exigent circumstances, the officer puts the man in custody and opens the trunk.

Three problems: There’s a dead man in the trunk of the car. Its driver is famed criminal defense attorney Mickey Haller. And Haller is innocent.

But how can he prove his innocence with a dead man in his trunk, a former client who owed him money and whom ballistics show was murdered in his own garage?

That’s the question Michael Connelly sets out to answer in The Law of Innocence, the 6th novel in the “Lincoln Lawyer” series featuring Mickey Haller and the 35th novel in what might be called “The Bosch Universe,” featuring LAPD detective Harry Bosch, LAPD detective Renee Ballard, and former assistant district attorney Jack McEvoy. One of the benefits of this universe is that as Bosch ages, Connelly can introduce new characters (i.e., Ballard) in an organic way, keeping readers’ interest in the series. I know I’m hooked on the Bosch universe, having read every one of Connelly’s novels.

The Law of Innocence, like the other books in the series, is a page turner because it posed an interesting question and held my interest throughout as it unraveled the answer. So, if you’re hooked on the series, you’ll definitely want to read this one too. Like all the Lincoln Lawyer books, it offers a fantastic perspective on how a criminal defense attorney uses legal (and legally questionable) moves to derail a prosecution.

The fact that Haller’s freedom is on the line adds poignancy to the story, even though readers know from the start that Haller is innocent. I have only two criticisms of the book:

First, even though it was a page turner, I found myself turning some of the book’s pages more slowly than others. There were several stretches where I began to think that Connelly’s 400 or so pages could have been made a bit more concise.

Second, I’m still wrestling with Connelly’s solution to the problem. I’m trying to figure out whether I think it’s believable or whether I think it’s a bit too deus ex machina.

Regardless, I enjoyed the novel and look forward to reading whatever story Connelly has waiting in the wings.

Book Reviewed
Michael Connelly, The Law of Innocence (New York: Little, Brown and Company, 2020).

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Review of ‘The Wrong Side of Goodbye’ by Michael Connelly

Michael Connelly, The Wrong Side of Goodbye: A Bosch Novel (New York: Little, Brown and Company, 2016).

Harry Bosch is back in this just-released novel by Michael Connelly, with an assist from his half-brother Mickey Haller. This time Bosch is a private investigator, as well as an unpaid reserve officer in the San Fernando Police Department. The Wrong Side of Goodbye finds him solving two cases, a serial rapist case for the SFPD and one for a reclusive billionaire seeking a long-lost heir from the wrong side of the tracks.

I pre-ordered this novel in March, got it Tuesday, and read straight through it. The action is not as high-octane as in some of Connelly’s other novels, but it’s a page-turner nonetheless. There’s nothing quite like being grabbed by a plot twist you didn’t see coming.

What I love about Connelly’s novels, especially the Bosch series, are the backstories: Harry’s, obviously, but also Los Angeles’. All of them treat the city itself as a character in the story.

I recommend this book. Heck, I recommend all of Connelly’s novels. They’re police procedurals at their finest.

As soon as Amazon posts Connelly’s next book, I’m preordering it too. The wait is worth it.

P.S. If you found my review helpful, please vote “Yes” on my review page.

Review of ‘The Crossing: A Bosch Novel’ by Michael Connelly

TheCrossingUSMichael Connelly, The Crossing: A Bosch Novel (New York: Little, Brown and Company, 2015). Hardcover | Kindle

To be honest, I’m not sure how Michael Connelly churns out page-turners year after year, but I am glad he does. I received my copy of The Crossing yesterday, started reading it in the late afternoon, and kept turning pages until midnight. My number one rule for fiction is simple: Do I want to keep reading? If I do, the book is well written. By that metric, Connelly’s latest is a well-written book.

This is the twentieth—twentieth!—novel featuring veteran homicide detective Harry Bosch of the Los Angeles Police Department. As the novel opens, Bosch has retired from the LAPD and hired his half brother Mickey “Lincoln Lawyer” Haller to sue the department for forcing the retirement. (His girlfriend dumps him and his daughter is about to leave for college too.)

Then, Haller offers Bosch a job. His client has been charged with the violent murder of a well-liked city manager, and Haller needs an experienced investigator to find the “real killer.” Bosch sloughs off Haller’s offer. He’s not going to cross from law enforcement to criminal defense. It would betray his calling and lose his friends on the force.

But when Haller insists Bosch at least look at the case’s “murder book” before saying no finally, Bosch starts finding investigative trails that the homicide detectives didn’t take. Specifically, the detectives never identified when the victim’s and the perpetrator’s paths crossed, setting in motion the chain of events that led to the crime. At this point, Bosch realizes that the “real killer” really is still out there, so working for Haller isn’t a betrayal of his calling…it is his calling.

The Crossing’s title thus has a double meaning. It signifies a change of profession for Bosch as well as the crucial issue in the case. Like I said, the novel kept my attention for hours, which was funny, because I literally knew who the bad guys are from page 1 on. To me, the only barely plausible element of the book was what seemed to me a deus ex machina-ish rescue of a key character near the end. That’s it. But for a book this good in a series of novels this good, four pages out of four hundred is nothing.

Thank you, Mr. Connelly! Please tell me that you have at least one more Harry Bosch book in you!


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Review of ‘The Gods of Guilt’ by Michael Connelly

The-Gods-of-GuiltMichael Connelly, The Gods of Guilt: A Lincoln Lawyer Novel (New York: Little Brown, 2013). Hardcover | Paperback | Kindle

Jurors are the gods of guilt in Mickey Haller’s world. They decree the fate of the accused. As this story opens, Haller feels as if his personal jurors have tried him in the balance and found him wanting. When his daughter’s friend is killed by a drunk driver—a client of Haller’s—she cuts off all contact with him. His burgeoning relationship with his ex-wife implodes. And he loses the election for Los Angeles district attorney.

When a murder case comes his way, Haller takes it. (What else is he supposed to do?) What begins as a relationship with paying client quickly becomes a desperate attempt to clear a wrongly accused man, get justice for a dead friend (who happens to be his client’s alleged victim, and put the real killer on the stand.

The Gods of Guilt is not the best novel in the Lincoln Lawyer series. That’s a bit like saying someone’s the second tallest starter on an NBA team, however. Michael Connelly is a great mystery writer, and I turned the pages on this one like I have on the previous ones—just not as fast. Still, this novel goes deeper in the psyche of Mickey Haller, giving us a window on his hopes and dreams, as well as his doubts and failures. What the story lacks in narrative punch, compared to the other novels, it makes up for in emotional pathos. The reader feels sorry for the downturn in Haller’s personal life, even as it cheers him on in the courtroom.


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Review of ‘The Fifth Witness’ by Michael Connelly

The-Fifth-WitnessMichael Connelly, The Fifth Witness: A Lincoln Lawyer Novel (New York: Little Brown, 2011). Hardcover | Paperback | Kindle

During the Great Recession, many people lost their homes to foreclosure. Lisa Trammel was about to become one of those people, and she wasn’t happy about it. So she hired a attorney, launched a website, and organized a protest movement that she named FLAG: Foreclosure Litigants Against Greed.

Her lawyer is Mickey Haller, whose criminal defense practice has fallen on such hard times that he’s taken up foreclosure litigation to make ends meet. Then Trammel gets arrested for murdering Mitchell Bondurant, the mortgage banker who was foreclosing on her property. A witness puts her at the scene, as does a microscopic amount of DNA on her shoes and a hammer. It looks like a cut-and-dried case for the prosecution.

But when Haller digs into the case, he discovers solid evidence pointing to his client’s innocence and the potential guilt of another party with connections to the mob. When he is savagely beaten by two thugs, his determination to clear his client only grows. Will he succeed in clearing his client and catching the real killer?

As with Michael Connelly’s other Lincoln Lawyer books, The Fifth Witness is told in the first person from Haller’s point of view. The story builds patiently but never slowly toward the denouement. I’ve read a lot of mysteries, so I’m used to plot twists and turns, but trust me when I say, I never saw this one coming.


P.S. If you found my review helpful, please vote “Yes” on my review page.

Review of ‘The Reversal’ by Michael Connelly

The-ReversalMichael Connelly, The Reversal: A Lincoln Lawyer Novel (New York: Little Brown, 2009). Hardcover | Paperback | Kindle

When convicted child killer Jason Jessup’s life sentence is overturned by the California Supreme Court, Los Angeles criminal defense attorney Mickey Haller is recruited for the retrial of the case. This time, however, he’ll serve as an independent prosecutor trying to put Jessup back behind bars.

Joining Haller are Assistant District Attorney Margaret “Maggie McFierce” McPherson (his ex-wife) and Detective Hieronymous “Harry” Bosch (his half-brother). Twenty-four years after the killing, they have to track down reluctant witnesses and reconstruct the prosecution’s case in the face of DNA evidence that seems to exonerate Jessup. And they have to do it before Jessup—who’s out on bail—murders again.

There’s no whodunit here. We know who’s guilty. The only mystery is whether Haller, McPherson, and Bosch will be able to convict Jessup…and Michael Connelly keeps you guessing till the very end. Connelly is a great story-teller, and The Reversal is told in two voices. Haller’s story is told in the first person, while Bosch’s and McPherson’s are told in the third person. The chapter-by-chapter switch in point of view keeps readers engrossed and turning pages to see what’s happening next.

“Haller for the People.” It’s got a nice ring to it…


P.S. If you found my review helpful, please vote “Yes” on my review page.

Review of ‘The Lincoln Lawyer’ by Michael Connelly

The-Lincoln-LawyerMichael Connelly, The Lincoln Lawyer (New York: Grand Central, 2005). Hardcover | Paperback | Kindle

Michael “Mickey” Haller is a Los Angeles criminal defense lawyer who gives his clients the best defense they can afford…and he’d rather not know if they’re actually innocent of the crimes they’ve been accused of. He works out of the backseat of a Lincoln Town Car, chauffeured by a former client still working off his legal debts. Like his chauffeur, many of his clients are behind on payments or on payment programs that keep a steady but low stream of income flowing.

So, when Fernando Valenzuela—a bail bondsman, not the pitcher—tells Haller about a possible “franchise,” Haller’s interest is piqued. A franchise, in Haller’s world, is a client whose case goes to trial and results in large fees. In this case, the client is Louis Roulet, a wealthy Beverly Hills realtor who’s been accused of attempted murder. As Haller prepares Roulet’s defense, he comes face to face with actual innocence…and pure evil. To the very last pages, Michael Connelly keeps readers guessing whether Haller can clear his client and get the real criminal in the process.

Most people probably know this story from the movie staring Matthew McConaughey. The Lincoln Lawyer is a good movie, but trust me, it’s a better book. Connelly narrates the plot through Haller’s eyes and in his voice, giving us a window into our protagonist’s beliefs, doubts, hopes, and fears. Connelly is a world-class storyteller, so even the courtroom back-and-forthing is a page-turner. If you’ve ever sat on a jury, you’ll know how difficult a trick this is to pull off. If you’re anything like me, you’ll close the cover of this book ready to start the next book in this series. In case you’re wondering, it’s The Brass Verdict


P.S. If you found my review helpful, please vote “Yes” on my review page.

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