Saturday, February 21, 2009

BOOKS: Review- The Brass Verdict

The arrival of Michael Connelly's The Brass Verdict at Christmas, more or less forced my hand. I had to go and dig into the reading stack and tackle The Lincoln Lawyer before reading The Brass Verdict. I will tell you that I enjoyed The Lincoln Lawyer very much. The verdict on the sequel?


It's not that Connelly does a bad job with The Brass Verdict. Indeed, it's workmanlike. It's just that I truly liked lawyer Mickey Haller in The Lincoln Lawyer. The Haller that shows up in the sequel seems to be a shabbier replica of his first incarnation. (I guess I should mention that Haller appeared in an earlier Harry Bosch book, Connelly's main series. I'm drawing a blank on which, but it was one of the latter ones).

This time out, Haller is recovering from the concluding events of The Lincoln Lawyer and not doing too well at it. There's been some drug use and the looming reconnection with his ex-wife that seemed to bring light to The Lincoln Lawyer has disappeared along with most of his practice. He's litigating on borrowed time and he's closer to being an ex-lawyer than a practicing star attorney. Then, things change.

An associate who had a sharing agreement with him (each seconded the other for slop-over work and some legal protections) went and got himself murdered. Jerry Vincent wasn't a good lawyer. In fact, Haller cuffed his ears bad enough for the DA's office to suggest he enter the private sector back in the day. But he was a good salesman and that resulted in him attaining a decent stable of clients. Including one Walter Elliot. A big-time movie maker with a dead wife. And a murder charge.

A judge hands Elliot and Vincent's other cases over to Haller in a pretty high-handed manner. Haller's back in the game and legal hijinks and mysteries ensue. The Elliot case is the most baffling, since his client has more trust in Haller than Mickey does himself. Turns out, he's right to expect success and wrong, as Haller exposes the rotten core of that case in way that few people end up happy about. There's a further scene forcing one last person out of the shadows that almost turns the book into a good one. But, to me, it felt like a cheap add-on by an author who knew he hadn't delivered the goods to that point.

Average Connelly is still pretty good writing compared to the norm out there. I wouldn't suggest reading the book without reading The Lincoln Lawyer. But I'd suggest letting some time pass between the two so that the memory of Mickey Haller fades just a tad.

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