Tuesday 17 July 2012

Michael Connelly: The Fifth Witness Review

Perhaps the best yet from Michael Connelly, with lawyer Mickey Haller defending his client from a charge of murder.

Haller has changed his clientele, working mainly fot those caught in the maelstrom of bad mortgage lending and ensuing foreclosures. It's not exciting, it's not pretty, but it pays his mortgage. It does get more interesting when someone puts a hammer through the skull of a bank official and one of Haller's clients, Lisa Trammel, is accused. Haller's adrenaline starts flowing as he prepares for a difficult case.

With little to build a defence on, Mickey looks to muddy the waters. There's a prominent financial company involved, one with a few Italian names at the top. That gets even more promising when a couple of thugs beat him up: Haller gets some of the biker friends of his investigator to find and kidnap the two thugs - they rapidly squeal under the pressure exerted by two very large biker gang enforcers. East coast Italian-American interest - but will the judge let Haller do enough with it?

Most of the book is spent in or around the courtroom so I'll not go into detail of those events - suffice it to say that the fine detail and the cut and thrust between defence and prosecution (and judge) make this a gripping novel. There is enough "action" to stop it being dry (like the early Grishams were) but there's enough fine detail to make me believe that we're reading a knowledgeable novel as well as a finely-paced one.

Does it matter if you read this out of order? No - if it's the first Mickey Haller you come across, go ahead, it won't spoil the others or be any less readable because of it.

Ever thought that banks and other financial organisations weren't crooked, lazy and incompetent? Read Matt Taibbi's great article on how courts are helping banks screw homeowners.


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