Saturday, October 08, 2005

"The Linclon Lawyer" by Michael Connelly

Michael Connelly’s “The Lincoln Lawyer” has rekindled my interest in the legal thriller. He may or may not have reinvented the genre…but he certainly has refreshed it to an amazing degree and sets a new standard for the category.

The Lincoln lawyer of the title is Mickey Haller…so named because his office is his Lincoln Towncar tricked out with fax, phone, internet, folding desk and files. Chauffeured by a former client working off his fee, Mickey does business while commuting between the numerous court houses in Los Angeles.

On the surface Mickey appears to be the stereotypical sleazy defense attorney. His two ex-wives and young daughter are still fond of him (wife number two is his case manager)…he does his share of pro bono work…and is fiercely honorable in his own way. So beneath the surface of the lawyer with bus bench advertising, whose clientele are hookers, drug dealers, scam artists and assorted LA lowlifes is a flawed and complex character.

This practice provides a decent living (he has a home “with a million dollar view and a million one mortgage”), but not what the esteemed law firm pull down.

His chance at the brass ring (the franchise client) turns up when a rich Beverly Hills real estate broker is pinched for attempted rape and murder.

Mickey feels this may be an unusual client for him---an accused who is actually innocent. The fee is huge and the checks do not bounce.

Naturally the case swerves in different directions and Mickey is compelled to reevaluate the veracity of his profession and the viable aspects of the law itself.

“The Lincoln Lawyer” has plenty of deduction and suspense, compelling ethical dilemmas, characters with depth and texture and razor sharp dialogue.

Mr. Connelly draws precise portraits of the individuals and their motivations. Mickey’s audacious scheme drives a slide rule perfect plot that leads to a turbulent climactic encounter followed by a stupefying revelation.

“The Lincoln Lawyer” proves that crime novels can be art. It deserves the careful reading its plot demands.

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