The Brass Verdict is Michael Connelly’s second novel about his new character, lawyer Mickey Haller. I wasn’t too sure whether I liked Mickey much when I read the first one, The Lincoln Lawyer, but this book definitely warmed me to him.
Mickey Haller is a defense attorney. He’s just coming off a one-year hiatus when he gets the news that an old friend, another defense lawyer named Jerry Vincent, has been murdered, and has left his stable of clients to him. One of them is a “franchise case,” a big-paycheck, high-profile case involving Walter Elliott, a Hollywood movie mogul.
There are problems with defense lawyers as heroes of stories. We all know that in the real world they’re not Perry Mason. They defend the worst people in the world, and if they’re good they get very rich off it. What makes Mickey Haller sympathetic is that he feels that moral tension, on a deep level. It probably had a lot to do with the cocaine-and-alcohol habit that destroyed his marriage, alienated his daughter, and nearly cost him his life.
On moving into Jerry’s office, Mickey finds two policeman going through the case files—illegally. He kicks them out, but oddly finds himself drawn to one of them, who turns out to be Harry Bosch, the hero of the majority of Michael Connelly’s novels. This is an excellent strategy on the author’s part, and helped me settle into the story.
Harry asks questions—who had Jerry Vincent bribed? How was the FBI involved? Mickey doesn’t know the answers. Harry doesn’t believe him. But they will still be drawn together into the double mystery of Jerry’s murder and the Elliott trial, which turn out to be linked. And the killing isn’t over.
A good story by a master storyteller. Connelly did telegraph one surprise though, at least in my case. He generally keeps politics out of his books (for which I’m eternally grateful), but here he did mention one character’s conservative affiliations. I immediately thought, “I’ll bet this character turns out to be a villain.” And behold, it was so.
Maybe Connelly’s done the same thing with liberal characters in the past, but I never noticed it. (Then again, I probably wouldn’t.)
But storytellers, be warned—we know your poker tells.