Monday, April 18, 2011

The Lincoln Lawyer by Michael Connelly

The Lincoln Lawyer by Michael Connelly

This review may be a little late in coming, especially since the movie has already been out for weeks.  But I refuse to watch a movie based on a book without reading the book first and I really wanted to see the movie.  (With secrets hopes there would be scenes of a shirtless McConaughey!)

The book differs from the other work I’ve read by Connelly in the fact that it revolves around a defense attorney.  Some mistakenly assumed the author was Grisham because he is more well-known for his suspenseful, courtroom fiction.  But Connelly has certainly proved he, too, can succeed in this setting.

It took me a while to get pulled into this book.  I have to admit that.  I’m not much for lawyer jargon and there were multiple cases the main character, Mickey Haller, was working on that didn’t seem relevant to the plot.  However, I later discovered that some of his clients would reappear and be pertinent to the major case Haller becomes involved in.  These small cases also served to develop the character of Haller.

Mickey Haller is one of the main reasons this book works so well.  He is a defense attorney, which for some, immediately stereotypes him as a gold-digging, immoral sellout.  He defends people who, in most cases, are truly criminals and he is so good at his job that he either gets them acquitted or has the charges reduced.  He has built a favorable reputation among the criminal element and his services are often sought.  In some ways, Haller is in it for the money.  He has to be in order to pay his private eye and secretary (who also happens to be one of his ex-wives) their wages.  In fact, it is this ex who weeds out the clients who are unlikely to pay Haller’s fees.  He doesn’t waste his time working without the guarantee of a profit.

But Haller is not at all unlikeable.  Yes, he is focused on money.  Yes, he defends criminals without losing sleep over it.  But we also learn that he listens to hard-core rap music in order to better understand his clients.  We learn that he recognizes that life has treated his clients unfairly and a life of drug dealing and prostitution is the norm.  For the poor, jail time is inevitable.  And in this way, we see that he may just be seeking to even the playing field called life. 

Haller is a complex mix of bad boy with moments of conscience and underneath the tough exterior that reality has forced upon him, he only wants to help.  And perhaps this is why both of his ex-wives still love him and stay in touch.  This, and the fact that he is witty, charming, and handsome help, too.

Mickey Haller gets the client of a lifetime – a rich man who is accused of murder and the paycheck for getting him acquitted will likely be enormous.  Haller believes he can do it.  He’s that good.  But Connelly adds a twist to the case, which causes Haller to question his life, his job, his future, and the innocence of his client. 

As a reader, you will be questioning truths, motives, and Haller’s ability to get himself out of a mess.  Is there such a thing as true evil?  Can Haller ever redeem himself for a past mistake?  Who will survive when a seemingly simple case takes a dangerous turn?

If you haven’t already seen the movie, check out the book! 

Other authors I enjoy who write smart, suspenseful, thrillers are worth checking out:  Harlan Coben and David Baldacci.  If you have any other suggestions, let me know. 

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