The Brass Verdict: seconds out for the Lincoln Lawyer

Courtroom drama doesn’t get much better than this series, set in LA, featuring the ‘Lincoln Lawyer’ Mickey Haller – a slightly shady defence attorney who shares the same universe as Connelly’s leading law-enforcer, Harry Bosch. While Bosch is always about doing the right things – normally in not quite the right way – the morality gets a lot muddier with Haller’s cases.

He presents the best defence he possibly can for the defendant, regardless of whether he has much faith in their innocence. That’s partly because he’s committed to the core principles of the justice system, not least the assumption of innocence. And it’s partly because Haller’s an intellectual gladiator, a smart guy in a sharp suit who delights in exploiting loopholes and legal leeway. He’s always working the room, massaging egos and manipulating testimony to best effect. Where Bosch might bend the rules to get the right result, Haller has to lead his jury to interpret evidence for his client’s benefit. ‘Sneaky’ doesn’t quite cover it…

The really smart storytelling lies in sharing with us 90% of Haller’s shenanigans while keeping the most significant details hidden up author Connelly’s sleeve until the vital moment for maximum impact. This is the second in the Lincoln Lawyer series which means it’s quite old now, but it romps along with crisp prose and tight plotting. And it’s now flavour of the month, as the new Netflix series has just kicked off, of course.

Connelly’s insights into the American judicial system are more than absorbing, as is his ongoing examination of its moral and practical shortcomings. Haller himself is rather more than the loveable rogue he initially appear to be, and comes with his own cast of supporting characters who are solid enough to keep the plot in constant motion without distracting from the main event.

Which is, of course… did the Hollywood movie mogul really kill his wife and her lover? And if he did, then who murdered his first lawyer? And is there really a plot to influence the trial? It’s all cleverly knotted together – along with Haller’s own misgivings about returning to practice so soon after his close encounter with addiction.

The result is thoroughly absorbing; an attention-grabber to the final page. As you’d expect, there’s less action in a legal mystery than you find in an LAPD detective thriller. The Brass Verdict is all about who and why, so it majors on analysis and interpretation – not so much of the running, shooting and shouting. Which makes for a pleasant change of pace. I could read one of these every single day, if only Connelly could write them quicker.

Reviewed by Rowena Hoseason
The Brass Verdict by Michael Connelly is available at Amazon


Looking for more sharp-edged crime writing?

Try THE STONER STORIES for wry wit and blunt force trauma…

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