5.4.15

Michael Connelly's The Lincoln Lawyer

The Lincoln Lawyer is a novel that readers and reviewers can agree upon. David Lazarus (2005) speaks for many readers when he writes:
Is there nothing Michael Connelly can’t do? After taking ownership of police procedurals with his Harry Bosch series, Connelly tries his hand at a Scott Turow-style legal thriller. And he nails it. …Connelly’s work has it all — sharply drawn, engaging characters, snappy dialogue and a plot that moves like a shot of Red Bull.
Scott Turow’s legal thrillers are skillfully executed but in lesser hands this type of novel can become mired in courtroom minutiae. Michael Connelly manages to avoid the pitfalls of the genre, creates a story that informs us about the legal system in a way that is engaging, and keeps us enthralled in the plot. This is no small achievement. Tom Nolan (2005) of the Wall Street Journal calls The Lincoln Lawyer “a tense and surprise-filled story that does justice to both halves of the phrase ‘legal thriller.’”

In The Lincoln Lawyer, a wealthy playboy is arrested for viciously attacking a woman picked up in a one-night stand. Mickey Haller is asked to take the case and is delighted to represent a high-paying client. Then someone close to Haller is murdered and the entire case changes. The plot is fast paced and filled with heart-pumping suspense; the case becomes both personal and threatening.

A gripping story and authentic characters are what we have come to expect of former LA Times’s crime-beat reporter, Michael Connelly (see my posts on Echo Park and The Closers). Connelly is a master storyteller and an insightful observer of human nature – a rare and winning combination. The Boston Globe claims, “Legal thrillers don’t get better than this, and Connelly is at the top of his game in this departure from his usual PI/police procedural.”

Mickey Haller is the type of character readers might despise. Twice divorced and a largely absent father to his daughter, Haller defends the guilty and is motivated by greed. Amazingly enough, readers sympathize with him and genuinely like this all-too-human character. Connelly presents him with compassion in a voice that is authentic and convincing.

The Lincoln Lawyer was named the Best Whodunit of 2005, won the Private Eye Writers of America’s Shamus Award for Best P.I. Novel, was chosen as a finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize, and was named the USA Today’s Best Whodunit of 2005. “Mastering the form on his first try,” claims New York Times’s Marilyn Stasio (2005), “Connelly delivers a powerhouse drama.” Readers will agree.

Connelly, Michael. The Lincoln Lawyer. New York: Little Brown, 2005.

Lazarus, David. “Lawyer Defends a Man He Knows Is Guilty As Sin.” San Francisco Chronicle. October 2, 2005.

Nolan, Tom. “Mystery Roundup: More Than One Way to Double the Trouble.” The Wall Street Journal. October 26, 2005.

Stasio, Marilyn. “‘The Lincoln Lawyer’: One L.” The New York Times. October 9, 2005.