- A Mickey Haller Mystery
- What is at the heart of a defense attorney’s responsibility to a client?
- An unexpected return to the criminal side of law practice
- As in any mystery, the story is made up of a host of conundrums
- Can Mickey Haller sort out the truth from the lies to solve this mystery?
- All in all, this is a good tale well told, a thriller with a satisfying end
- A good, entertaining, involving, complex mystery that leaves you wondering what’s next.
A Mickey Haller Mystery
What is at the heart of a defense attorney’s responsibility to a client?
In The Fifth Witness, a rousing good mystery tale by one of mystery writing’s best practitioners, Michael Connelly, here is how his central character, defense attorney Mickey Haller, answers that question. “. . . (M)y job here is to drop a doubt into each piece of their puzzle.”
Creating the kind of doubt that a jury will accept as “reasonable” is assuredly the job of a typical defense attorney. But Mickey Haller is not a typical defense attorney; no wood-paneled, leather-furnished high-rise office for Mickey. In The Fifth Witness,” we meet Mickey in his place of business—a Lincoln Town Car. And not just any Lincoln Town Car, but a bullet-proof one, with armor-plated doors and three-layered-laminated-glass windows.
An unexpected return to the criminal side of law practice
Of late, Mickey has been sticking to the civil side of the legal business, primarily foreclosure defense, a growth industry these days. His civil law practice is making money and he is satisfied with his decision to leave criminal law. Then a wrench is unexpectedly tossed into the works. One of his foreclosure clients is accused of murder.
And Mickey heads back into the hurly-burly, knock-heads-when-necessary criminal justice system. He probably would not have done so had he not felt a responsibility to his client and of course he’s had experience in that area. The criminal justice system hasn’t changed since he began his civil work, nor have the various miscreants and hangers-on who work around its edges.
Mickey has barely gotten a good start on the case when he gets his first taste—this time around—of the knock-heads-when-necessary criminal law; he is beaten just short of a pulp in a parking garage near his “office,” his Lincoln Town Car. And that’s just the beginning.
As in any mystery, the story is made up of a host of conundrums
- Is his client being forthright and truthful with him as he builds her defense?
- How reliable is his driver, who started as a client and is working for Mickey to pay off his debt?
- Why is a primary witness playing hard to get?
- In the circumstances, can Mickey provide his client with a proper defense?
- His case is assigned to a judge known to hold grudges against attorneys who cross him. Will this work against Mickey?
- How much effect will the movie contract his client signed have on her defense?
Can Mickey Haller sort out the truth from the lies to solve this mystery?
The case is rife with characters who may or may not be telling the truth. Or who may not be who they say they are. Or may not be where they say they are. There are spouses and ex-spouses of various stripes. And a prosecuting attorney who is amenable to a deal. No, wait. Maybe not.
Mickey Haller is an attractive character, a basically nice guy, and one can hardly avoid sympathizing with him as he works this case while still healing from the beating he took. (Anyone who’s ever worn a cast will cringe and chuckle over the means Mickey uses to scratch that awful itch.) Still, his various casts and bandages and bumps and bruises can go only so far in gaining the right kind of sympathy from the people who could make things easier for him and his client. But as in a well-plotted mystery, nothing is ever easy for the hero.
All in all, this is a good tale well told, a thriller with a satisfying end
As a reader can assume, Mickey works his way through the mysteries of the case, the maze of clues, non-clues, red-herrings, mistakes and bad and good luck. We’re never sure what’s around the next corner. And after everything is put to rights, as much as can be for Mickey in this particular case, Connelly has a neat surprise at the end.
A good, entertaining, involving, complex mystery that leaves you wondering what’s next.
I recommend it.