Welcome to Murder by the Book's blog about what we've read recently. You can find our website at www.mbtb.com.

Monday, October 6, 2008

The Brass Verdict (hardcover, $26.99), by Michael Connelly

Connelly is one of the best writers around because he knows how to engage his audience, play out the tension, and present a bang-up ending. He also rewards his faithful readers by having a character from one series pop up in another. Nudge, nudge, wink, wink, and we are in on the joke. In this case, the main storyline belongs to Mickey Haller, rehabbed addict and attorney-in-a-car of Connelly’s book The Lincoln Lawyer. Making a background appearance is Harry Bosch. The reader never hears Bosch’s internal dialogue, nor is it obvious what his strategy is. This is a little disconcerting for those of us who have come to claim Harry for our own, fondly accepting his obsessions and his sense of right and wrong. We are definitely on the outside looking in along with Mickey Haller. Another “alumnus” in a very minor role is reporter Jack McEvoy of The Poet.

Mickey has spent a long time getting back on his feet after battling an OxyContin addiction. He is suddenly thrust back into a full work schedule when he inherits the cases of a murdered criminal defense attorney with whom he had a loose business relationship. The major and most lucrative case involves a Hollywood producer who is charged with the murders of his wife and her lover. It becomes clear to Mickey that the dead attorney had found a “magic bullet” that would turn the case in favor of the defendant, and it is a race to the wire to figure out what it is before the trial begins. Complicating Mickey’s return to law is the possibility that the killer either of the producer’s wife and lover or of the dead attorney is now after him.

Mickey’s relationships with his ex-wives and daughter are both quirky and touching. At the same time that he is trying to battle his way back into the world of lawyer games he once knew very well, he is desperately attempting to bring his personal life into focus. What we have learned of his past in The Lincoln Lawyer ties into what becomes clear at the end of this tale, and it is a gift from Connelly to his readers. Bedecked with authentic insights into the machinations of criminal defense work and clever twists and turns, this is a very entertaining story.

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