Reviews by title
Reviews by author
Onyx reviews: The
Brass Verdict by Michael Connelly
Mickey Haller has been out of circulation for a while, after being gut shot,
addicted to OxyContin and undergoing rehab. He's thinking about easing his way
back into practice when his legal career is given a jumpstart unlike anything he
could possibly have imagined. He and Jerry Vincent used to cover for each other
at court appearances from time to time. When Vincent is murdered in the parking
garage attached to his office building, Mickey inherits his entire practice,
including a high-profile celebrity murder case set to go to trial soon.
Mickey isn't sure he's up to the challenge, but the Supreme Court Judge who
breaks the news to him has him on a very short leash. However, he assembles his
old team, including one of his ex-wives as office manager and her new lover as
his detective. Because Vincent's computer, phone and briefcase were stolen
during the murder, Mickey has to rebuild his appearance calendar from files,
day-planner notations and other random bits of information. Though he has first
crack at Vincent's former clients, some opt to seek other representation and he
cuts some loose as lost causes. He also hires one client, a former surfer and
fellow addict, as his chauffeur.
The big case is the murder of studio executive Walter Elliot's wife and her
lover at their posh oceanfront home. Elliot's wife planned to divorce him after
her pre-nup became fully vested. That detail, coupled with the fact that he
reported the homicide and had gun shot residue on his hands and clothing, has
the prosecutor confident of a conviction.
Elliot, however, is nonchalant about his prosecution. Mickey has to browbeat
him into cooperating and putting foreign movie rights deals and other studio
business on the back burner for the duration of the trial. Vincent had a
"magic bullet" solution to the case, but Mickey has no idea what that
was, since his former colleague's defense notes are missing.
Investigating Vincent's murder is someone familiar to readers of Connelly's
previous work: Harry Bosch who, as some readers will know, is Mickey's half
brother, though Mickey doesn't know this. Connelly introduced the fact of
Bosch's half brother in an early novel, The Black Ice, and commented about the
relationship in The Lincoln Lawyer, the first novel to feature Mickey Haller.
Since The Brass Verdict is told from Haller's first person perspective,
readers have a rare opportunity to see Bosch through another character's eyes.
Defense lawyers and homicide detectives are usually on the opposite side of any
given case, so their initial meetings are more than a little antagonistic. In
fact, Bosch is almost unrecognizable and certainly not presented in a flattering
light as he tramples numerous of Vincent's clients' rights by searching their
files at his office.
Mickey gets up to speed on Vincent's files and makes the required court
appearances to dispense with some of the open cases. The big one, though, is the
Eliot trial, which has all the signs of being another OJ or Robert Blake-class
case. Though jury selection is scheduled to begin shortly after the file falls
into Mickey's lap, Eliot adamantly refuses any suggestion of a continuance. He
wants to be cleared as soon as possible. It's his only deal-breaker. He puts up
with a lot of Mickey's demands, but this is the one on which he will not yield.
Mickey also has to deal with the possibility that whoever killed Vincent may
come after him if he turns up dangerous information. Bosch and he form an uneasy
alliance as they try to figure out what Vincent knew and why it was worth
Unused to being tied down by an office, Mickey returns to old
habits—operating out of the back seat of one of three identical Lincolns, with
his surfer client at the wheel. The elapsed time since The Lincoln Lawyer may
have been hard on Mickey, but he seems like a better person than he was back
then. He's still financially motivated, but not to the extent he once was.
He's also trying to maintain a relationship with his young daughter, despite an
antagonistic relationship with his ex-wife, a prosecutor. It's a lot to handle,
and he lives in constant fear that the pressure will send him back to his
Connelly's ability to create two dissimilar lead characters is a tribute to
his skill. Some series writers simply create carbon copies when they branch out
to new series, but that's not the case here. Bosch and Mickey are more than the
flip sides of the same coin (or the same mountain, which is how they see each
other.) The books featuring Mickey are also quite different from a Bosch novel,
more legal thriller than crime novel. Crimes are investigated with the same
diligence, but the approaches are vastly different.
Lawyers know that everyone lies. It's almost Mickey's motto, but the
surprises come thick and fast late in the novel, whose title comes from cop
slang for an execution—brass referring to a bullet casing. They are satisfying
surprises and most of them will catch readers unaware. The Brass Verdict
marks a high point in Connelly's career to date.
Web site and all contents © Copyright Bev Vincent
2008. All rights reserved.