Friday, August 05, 2011

BOOKS: The Fifth Witness by Michael Connelly

The Fifth Witness, Michael Connelly's fourth entry in incredibly enjoyable Mickey Haller series of legal thrillers, is a book for the times. Torn, in part, from the financial headlines of the last three years, the book shows that something of a good eduction can be obtained from reading fiction.

Connelly takes great pains to take the pain out of explaining the nasty business of home foreclosure in such a way that you will learn a thing or two about how completely scummy some of the purveyors of the art are. And enough to warrant getting behind Lisa Trammel, a wacko accused of murder. The victim? Mitchell Bondurant, a mortgage banker.

Mortgage bankers have the kind of reputation Hollywood and the book industry needs for the current century. They've run out of bad guys from foreign lands and have to look internally for villains to put up against the good guy or gal. And Bondurant and his 'associates' serve as ideal fodder for an angry reader. While Trammel's a bit much, and ultimately unlikeable, the fact is we're hoping the 'Lincoln Lawyer' will carry the day.

And Haller's up to the task. Connelly also spends more time IN court this time around and we get to see Haller as a Very Good Lawyer rather than as the sharp guy flitting from client to client, appearance to appearance in the Lincoln, as seen most of the way through the series. Connelly's ability to hint at, but not give away the winning strategy is what sets this book apart from the others in the Haller series.

The regular cast of characters is around for this one and there is the derigeur out-of-the-blue tack-on finish that gives you an even warmer and fuzzier feeling at the conclusion. But even if some of it feels familiar, this is good Connelly. And good Connelly is worth buying. All the time.

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