Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Michael Connelly - Better Than Ever

Back when Michael Connelly was gazing at the New York Times best seller list from afar he graced the Southwest Florida Reading Festival with his presence and was a big hit. Oh, wouldn't we love to get him back to Ft. Myers now. We'd be talking standing room only. Connelly has come so far as a writer and yes, I've blogged previously about his Harry Bosch series, but now I'm listening to a recorded version of the next in his Lincoln Lawyer series, certainly aided by the successful Hollywood production with Matthew McConaughey.

The Fifth Witness is a taut legal thriller based on the very timely theme of foreclosure fraud. Micky Haller, the lawyer who had fallen on such hard times that he worked out of the trunk of his car, a battered old Lincoln, is, like Bosch, a person who grows on you. Connelly humanizes his characters, letting us into their hearts and minds through their relationships with their kids. Haller is no exception. Divorced from the woman he still loves, he is a responsible dad with shared duties that he takes seriously even though his work has him mixing with some very bad dudes.

In this novel he is defending Lisa Trammel, a woman in a very typical situation in these trying economic times. Her husband has abandoned her and her son, the home they owned is in foreclosure and Lisa has become the spokesperson for a group that pickets daily in front of the big bank without a heart - think Wells Fargo - that is trying to get her out. When the CEO of the bank is found dead in the adjacent parking garage, bludgeoned to death by a hammer wielding assailant, Lisa seems to be the default suspect and is quickly arrested.

I swear, sometimes I think I could get a law degree by just reading legal thrillers and this one is no exception. Haller, aka Connelly, leads readers through the criminal court proceedings in fascinating detail. Every little sneak play between the offense and defense is explained, the subtle interaction between jury members and attorneys is on display. Haller keeps up a running commentary on his thoughts as he cross examines tough and not so tough witnesses. Best of all, he presents us with a defendant who isn't very likable, which is probably very often the case, but who is getting the best possible representation.

There are several red herrings thrown in to befuddle the reader and I'm still pondering whether my assumption about the real guilty party will end up being correct. I'm one drive up Route 41 away from the ending and can't wait to hop in the car and find out if my sleuthing talents are as good as I think they are. Connelly - always a satisfying read!

No comments: