Thursday, November 19, 2009

The Lincoln Lawyer by Michael Connelly

Title: The Lincoln Lawyer
Author: Michael Connelly
ISBN: 0-316-73493-4, Little, Brown and Company, 2005
Genre: Legal Thriller
Rating: A

First Line: The morning air off the Mojave in late winter is as clean and crisp as you'll ever breathe in Los Angeles County.

I overdosed on legal thrillers years ago, when John Grisham and Scott Turow were at the very top of their game. Although the plots were still complex and dazzling, I'd begun to feel claustrophobic for some reason, and I stopped reading them. I needed to get out of the courtroom.

If there's one author whom I can't ignore, it's Michael Connelly. When The Lincoln Lawyer came out, I couldn't believe it. One of my favorite authors had written a legal thriller! I studiously ignored the book until The Brass Verdict appeared. Once I realized that Mickey Haller, the Lincoln lawyer himself, was going to be appearing with my beloved Harry Bosch, I knew I'd have to bite the bullet and read up on what makes Mickey Haller tick.

I should've bitten that bullet a long time ago.

Defense attorney Mickey Haller does a lot of his business from the back of his Lincoln. In fact, he has a whole fleet of the automobiles. By the time I met Mickey, he had all the appearance of a completely jaded legal hack:

I didn't deal in guilt and innocence, because everybody was guilty. Of something. But it didn't matter, because every case I took on was a house built on a foundation poured by overworked and underpaid laborers. They cut corners. They made mistakes. And then they painted over the mistakes with lies. My job was to peel away the paint and find the cracks. To work my fingers and tools into those cracks and widen them. To make them so big that either the house fell down or, failing that, my client slipped through.

For all his world-weary talk of everyone being guilty of something, Haller is also pointing the finger at himself. He feels that he didn't do everything possible when he defended Jesus Menendez, who's now looking life without parole straight in the eyes from the "comfort" of San Quentin. Regardless of how he may be perceived outwardly, Haller is a good guy who remains on very good terms with both ex-wives, and who secretly longs to be presented with a truly innocent man to defend. (He worries that, after all this time, he won't be able to recognize innocence when he sees it.)

Then Louis Roulet is charged with assault and attempted murder. This is what Haller calls a "franchise case" because Roulet's mother will pay any amount of money to see her son declared innocent. But the more Haller and his investigator Raul Levin work on this case, the more things don't add up. Haller finds himself caught in a deadly web, and it's going to take every speck of his smarts to work his way out of it intact.

Connelly worked his magic on me once again. Within a few pages, I was fascinated with the character of Mickey Haller. For all his quiet, matter-of-fact posturing and pronouncements, he still retains a remarkable degree of gullibility. The pacing is perfect throughout the book, gathering speed with each successive chapter. When Haller realizes the trap he's fallen into, the plan he puts together to extricate himself is brilliant and almost guaranteed to keep readers glued to the page.

Since I had such a great reading experience with Lawyer Haller, am I going to add legal thrillers to my reading diet once more? No, but I certainly am ready for The Brass Verdict!

[Source: Purchased through the Mystery Guild.]


  1. I usually do not like legal thrillers, but I loved this book. And this was my first (yes) Connelly. It will not be my last. Great review.

  2. I bought this book a long time ago after I had lunch with a couple of bloggers and a publicists and they all swore I'd love it, and I haven't read it yet. After your recommendation, I've know I have to get to it soon. You're the expert in mysteries and legal thrillers in my book!

  3. "I overdosed on legal thrillers years ago.. " I like a thriller once in a while, but I also recognize the symptoms of an overdose :D

    So that is why I try to follow the good old recipe:

    Something old,
    something new,
    something borrowed,
    something (not too) blue.

    - oh, it was not about reading stuff???? Well, never mind, it works!

  4. I, too, am a Michael Connelly reader. I have read them all and am waiting for "Dragons" to hit paperback.

    Also, I am with you on the legal thrillers, and was even a bit more hesitant on Mickey Haller. I think it was the ponytail that turned me of at first! But Connelly won me over and I remain loyal.

    Thanks for reviewing one of my favorite authors! His latest journalism thriller/suspense, "The Scarecro," is top on my list.


  5. Like Beth this was my first Connelly and I did enjoy the character of Mickey Haller who was neither all good nor all evil - and the moral dilema of possibly having an innocent client was quite fascinating - I still haven't managed to read any other Connelly books but I do intend to.

  6. I'm actually a former lawyer myself (now journalist/writer), but even so, I'm not a huge fan of courtroom thrillers, at least in novels (I don't mind films/TV). I prefer police procedural and other crime novels to legal thrillers.

    However, like many have said above, I too am a big MC fan. I actually picked up and read THE LINCOLN LAWYER while I was travelling through Central America in 2007, and ended up reading it on a bad weather day in Belize. Fantastic. I love his Bosch books, but this was one of his finer titles as well.

    Perhaps I should read more legal thrillers...

  7. I also bought this book awhile ago, on the recommendation of another review, but have not read it yet. The more I read about it, the more I am looking forward to it!

  8. I have this on my shelf waiting to be read. I'm trying to read them all in order, so who knows when I actually get to it. Great review.

  9. I have this book on my shelf too but haven't read it yet. I just recently "discovered" Michael Connelly with his Nine Dragons. I really liked that one so now I'm eager to get back to this one. I'm a long way from being burned out on legal thrillers. Bring 'em on.

  10. I didn't like Harry Bosch a few years ago, but after your remarks I'm wondering if I just read the book at a bad time or something. I hadn't picked up a Connelly book since, but now I've changed my mind.

  11. Beth-- I look forward to your opinion of Harry Bosch. He's one of my favorite characters.

    Kathy-- Thank you for your confidence in my abilities!

    Dorte-- And if it works for you, that's all that matters! :)

    Michele-- I've got The Brass Verdict sitting on one of my TBR shelves, and I'm looking forward to getting back to Harry.

    Bernadette-- I'd be interested in your opinion of Harry Bosch.

    Craig-- Perhaps, but there are so many books out there waiting to be read! Thanks for stopping by!

    Caite-- I think you'll enjoy it!

    Stacy-- You're like me... I prefer reading them all in order, too.

    Margot JR-- Good! You can read the ones that I'll be avoiding! LOL

    Barbara-- My mood can often have a lot to do with my reaction to a book. I do know that Harry was much more abrasive in the earlier books, and I like the way he's mellowed.


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