The Lincoln Lawyer, by Michael Connelly

19 Oct

 

Format: Paperback, 404 pages

Published: 2005

Publisher: Orion

Back cover blurb: Criminal defense attorney Mickey Haller’s father was a legendary lawyer whose clients included gangster Mickey Cohen. But Dad also passed on an important piece of advice that’s especially relevant when Mickey takes the case of a wealthy Los Angeles realtor accused of attempted murder: “The scariest client a lawyer will ever have is an innocent client. Because if you [screw] up and he goes to prison, it’ll scar you for life.”

Louis Roulet, Mickey’s “franchise client” (so-called becaue he’s able and willing to pay whatever his defense costs) seems to be the one his father warned him against, as well as being a few rungs higher on the socio-economic ladder than the drug dealers, homeboys, and motorcycle thugs who comprise Mickey’s regular case load. But as the holes in Roulet’s story tear Mickey’s theory of the case to shreds, his thoughts turn more to Jesus Menendez, a former client convicted of a similar crime who’s now languishing in San Quentin. Connelly tellingly delineates the code of legal ethics Mickey lives by: “It didn’t matter…whether the defendant ‘did it’ or not. What mattered was the evidence against him–the proof–and if and how it could be neutralized. My job was to bury the proof, to color the proof a shade of gray. Gray was the color of reasonable doubt.” But by the time his client goes to trial, Mickey’s feeling a few very reasonable doubts of his own.

My review: My sister gave me this ages ago but I have no idea why I haven’t read it before now. It gets off to a slow start, but has plenty of twists and turns, and I was pleasantly surprised several times at the author’s ingenuity. The crooks are decidedly unpleasant and Mick walks a fine line between being dodgy and noble, but in the end you can’t help cheering for him. I loved the ex-wives, too, and was glad to see he had a nice relationship with his daughter. I can see why it was made into a movie, but it went straight to video here so I haven’t seen it. Might have to check out some more of Connelly’s work now.

My rating: 4/5

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Jennifer Keishin Armstrong

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