The Barnes & Noble Review
In the first-ever legal thriller by crime novelist Michael Connelly, author of the bestselling Harry Bosch saga (The Closers, The Narrows, Lost Light, et al.), ethically ambiguous defense attorney Mickey Haller's search for innocence in a high-profile case involving a young Beverly Hills playboy leads him to the ultimate evil...
A veteran defense attorney, Haller is understandably cynical about the system. ("The law was a large, rusting machine that sucked up people and lives and money. I was just a mechanic. I had become an expert at going into the machine and fixing things and extracting what I needed from it in return.") When a "franchise" case falls into his lap, one that could give him his biggest payoff ever, Haller jumps at the chance to defend a rich realtor accused of brutally beating and attempting to rape a wannabe actress with a shady background. The baby-faced realtor is vehement about his innocence, and as Haller begins to build his case, he's confident of victory -- that is, until he inadvertently discovers something that will not only overturn an old murder case but also put him and his crew in mortal peril…
Fans of Connelly's previous Harry Bosch novels will find The Lincoln Lawyer even more compelling -- since Haller happens to be Bosch's half brother and, according to sources, there is a sequel in the works that includes the maverick former LAPD detective! Like its luxury-auto namesake, The Lincoln Lawyer is a sumptuous thriller that excels in every measurable category: plot complexity, character development, pacing, intensity, etc. It is, quite possibly, Connelly's best yet. Paul Goat Allen
The book is haunted by Mickey's worst nightmare: the thought of having to defend an innocent man. He starts out without the foggiest idea of what to do with someone like that. But by the end of the story an Honest Abe conscience has begun to kick in. That's when Mickey becomes a Connelly character through and through.
The New York Times
Mickey Haller…is as cynical about the law as any of Grisham's lawyers, but one doesn't sense that this cynicism is drawn out of the deep well of experience that enriches Grisham's work. Still, if the best of Grisham's legal novels grade in at a solid A, The Lincoln Lawyer gets an equally solid B+, which isn't exactly bad for the first time out…It's not a pretty story, but the world in which Mickey Haller works isn't a pretty place. Michael Connelly knows it all too well and writes about it with chilling authority. He's not a "genre" novelist but the real thing, taking us into parts of the real America that most of our novelists never visit because they don't even know where, or what, they are.
The Washington Post
Connelly's first legal thriller has gotten virtually universal raves for its courage, plotting and humor-and those qualities also make the audio version a triumph. Grupper vividly brings to life Connelly's large cast of characters: from the shrewd, hard-working criminal defense lawyer Mickey Haller-whose office is the back seat of his Lincoln Town Car and who spends his advertising budget in the Yellow Pages-to the sleazy collection of biker outlaws, con artists and prostitutes who make up most of his clients. Grupper is especially subtle as he reads the words of Louis Ross Roulet, a Beverly Hills real estate agent charged with attempted murder-a character whose guilt and motives darken at every appearance. Haller distrusts Roulet almost immediately, but he also sees the man's wealthy mother as the source of the long-running financial franchise every criminal lawyer longs for. Grupper's take on Connelly's scenes between Haller and Roulet is taut and fascinating: an audio tour-de-force of the highest order. Equally compelling are Haller's scenes with his two ex-wives; his friend and investigator; and a compelling client from the past who went to prison because Mickey couldn't believe he was innocent. Simultaneous release with the Little, Brown hardcover (Reviews, Sept. 5). (Oct.) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
In his new book, master mystery novelist Connelly has created one of the most memorable characters in modern American literature, defense attorney Mickey Haller, who narrates this tale. Haller is cynical and ethically challenged (he describes how he bribes bail bondsmen to steer good cases his way), and a negligent (divorced) dad to his daughter from his first marriage. But he comes across as a sympathetic, multidimensional character in whom still lurk idealism, humanity, conscience and a desire to do better by his child, even while he exemplifies almost every stereotype of the ambulance-chasing, publicity-seeking, rule-bending defense lawyer. (31 Oct 2005)
Mickey Haller defends low-life criminals who seem to offend habitually. With no actual office in which to hang his law degree, he works out of the backseat of his car. When a wealthy client lands in Mickey's lap, he thinks he has found a dream case. The evidence indicates a frame, and Mickey believes he might actually be defending his first truly innocent client. While he manipulates the system to his advantage, Mickey discovers that he is being maneuvered as well. Connelly, author of the best-selling Harry Bosch police procedurals (e.g., The Closers), proves he can handle even the legal thriller genre with this intricate and cynical look into the criminal justice system. For all popular fiction collections. [See Prepub Alert, LJ 6/15/05; see the Q&A with Connelly on p. 66.-Ed.]-Jeff Ayers, Seattle P.L. Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Fresh from returning Harry Bosch to the LAPD with The Closers (2005), veteran crime novelist Connelly offers intrigue and bracing twists in his first legal thriller. Criminal defense attorney Mickey Haller is known as a "Lincoln lawyer" because he does business while being driven from courthouse to courthouse in his Town Car. Scraping by by defending lowlifes, some of whom offer their chauffeur services to work off Haller's fees, he stumbles across a dream client: a rich boy accused of viciously beating a woman. Most important for Haller, Louis Roulet loudly proclaims his innocence, and his family has the dough to pay top-dollar for representation. But Haller's father, J. Michael Haller (making Bosch and Haller half-brothers, Connelly's wink to longtime fans) said there was "no client as scary as an innocent man," and soon Haller is confronted with the consequences that come from the system's inevitable compromises. When Haller's investigator and friend is murdered for getting too close to the truth, he's forced to confront the cost of sacrificing ideals for pragmatism. To spill more plot detail would spoil a good deal of the considerable fun here; suffice to say the conflict sparks in Haller an epic case of cognitive dissonance. Connelly gets the legal details and maneuvers just right, and Haller is a great character-world-weary but funny and likable-he's never met an angle he couldn't play or a corner he couldn't cut. Contains everything readers have come to expect from powerhouse Connelly. Bonus: Additional installments hold the intriguing possibility of one day seeing Bosch and Haller together on the streets of L.A.
Will fascinate...and dazzle.
Los Angeles Times
[This] intricate, fast-moving tale barrels along...Beware picking up THE LINCOLN LAWYER. You won't want to put it down until you've navigated its rapids to the end.
Connelly has stepped up to the plate in the overflowing ballpark of legal thrillers and blasted a grand slam his first time at bat.
One of the best novels Connelly has written, if not the best.
All that Connelly readers have come to expect.
Janet Maslin - New York Times
Hurtles into the realm of the legal thriller with excitingly renewed energy and a full bag of tricks. Entertaining as it is during the investigation phase, the book goes up a notch when the courtroom conniving takes over.
From the Publisher
Will fascinate...and dazzle.People
[This] intricate, fast-moving tale barrels along...Beware picking up THE LINCOLN LAWYER. You won't want to put it down until you've navigated its rapids to the end.Los Angeles Times
Connelly has stepped up to the plate in the overflowing ballpark of legal thrillers and blasted a grand slam his first time at bat.Chicago Tribune
Hurtles into the realm of the legal thriller with excitingly renewed energy and a full bag of tricks. Entertaining as it is during the investigation phase, the book goes up a notch when the courtroom conniving takes over.Janet Maslin, New York Times
One of the best novels Connelly has written, if not the best.USA Today
All that Connelly readers have come to expect.Denver Post
Read an Excerpt
The Lincoln Lawyer
By Michael Connelly
Little, Brown Copyright © 2005 Hieronymus, Inc.
All right reserved.
Chapter One Monday, March 7
The morning air off the Mojave in late winter is as clean and crisp as you'll ever breathe in Los Angeles County. It carries the taste of promise on it. When it starts blowing in like that I like to keep a window open in my office. There are a few people who know this routine of mine, people like Fernando Valenzuela. The bondsman, not the baseball pitcher. He called me as I was coming into Lancaster for a nine o'clock calendar call. He must have heard the wind whistling in my cell phone.
"Mick," he said, "you up north this morning?"
"At the moment," I said as I put the window up to hear him better. "You got something?"
"Yeah, I got something. I think I got a franchise player here. But his first appearance is at eleven. Can you make it back down in time?"
Valenzuela has a storefront office on Van Nuys Boulevard a block from the civic center, which includes two courthouses and the Van Nuys jail. He calls his business Liberty Bail Bonds. His phone number, in red neon on the roof of his establishment, can be seen from the high-power wing on the third floor of the jail. His number is scratched into the paint on the wall next to every pay phone on every other ward in the jail.
You could say his name is also permanently scratched onto my Christmas list. At the end of the year I give a can of salted nuts to everybody on it. Planters holiday mix. Each can has a ribbon and bow on it. But no nuts inside. Just cash. I have a lot of bail bondsmen on my Christmas list. I eat holiday mix out of Tupperware well into spring. Since my last divorce, it is sometimes all I get for dinner.
Before answering Valenzuela's question I thought about the calendar call I was headed to. My client was named Harold Casey. If the docket was handled alphabetically I could make an eleven o'clock hearing down in Van Nuys, no problem. But Judge Orton Powell was in his last term on the bench. He was retiring. That meant he no longer faced reelection pressures, like those from the private bar. To demonstrate his freedom-and possibly as a form of payback to those he had been politically beholden to for twelve years-he liked to mix things up in his courtroom. Sometimes the calendar went alphabetical, sometimes reverse alphabetical, sometimes by filing date. You never knew how the call would go until you got there. Often lawyers cooled their heels for better than an hour in Powell's courtroom. The judge liked that.
"I think I can make eleven," I said, without knowing for sure. "What's the case?"
"Guy's gotta be big money. Beverly Hills address, family lawyer waltzing in here first thing. This is the real thing, Mick. They booked him on a half mil and his mother's lawyer came in here today ready to sign over property in Malibu to secure it. Didn't even ask about getting it lowered first. I guess they aren't too worried about him running."
"Booked for what?" I asked.
I kept my voice even. The scent of money in the water often leads to a feeding frenzy but I had taken care of Valenzuela on enough Christmases to know I had him on the hook exclusively. I could play it cool.
"The cops booked him for ag-assault, GBI and attempted rape for starters," the bondsman answered. "The DA hasn't filed yet as far as I know."
The police usually overbooked the charges. What mattered was what the prosecutors finally filed and took to court. I always say cases go in like a lion and come out like a lamb. A case going in as attempted rape and aggravated assault with great bodily injury could easily come out as simple battery. It wouldn't surprise me and it wouldn't make for much of a franchise case. Still, if I could get to the client and make a fee agreement based on the announced charges, I could look good when the DA later knocked them down.
"You got any of the details?" I asked.
"He was booked last night. It sounds like a bar pickup gone bad. The family lawyer said the woman's in it for the money. You know, the civil suit to follow the criminal case. But I'm not so sure. She got beat up pretty good from what I heard."
"What's the family lawyer's name?"
"Hold on a sec. I've got his card here somewhere."
I looked out the window while waiting for Valenzuela to find the business card. I was two minutes from the Lancaster courthouse and twelve minutes from calendar call. I needed at least three of those minutes in between to confer with my client and give him the bad news.
"Okay, here it is," Valenzuela said. "Guy's name is Cecil C. Dobbs, Esquire. Out of Century City. See, I told you. Money."
Valenzuela was right. But it wasn't the lawyer's Century City address that said money. It was the name. I knew of C. C. Dobbs by reputation and guessed that there wouldn't be more than one or two names on his entire client list that didn't have a Bel-Air or Holmby Hills address. His kind of client went home to the places where the stars seemed to reach down at night to touch the anointed.
"Give me the client's name," I said.
"That would be Louis Ross Roulet."
He spelled it and I wrote it down on a legal pad.
"Almost like the spinning wheel but you pronounce it Roo-lay," he said. "You going to be here, Mick?"
Before responding I wrote the name C. C. Dobbs on the pad. I then answered Valenzuela with a question.
"Why me?" I asked. "Was I asked for? Or did you suggest me?"
I had to be careful with this. I had to assume Dobbs was the kind of lawyer who would go to the California bar in a heartbeat if he came across a criminal defense attorney paying off bondsmen for client referrals. In fact, I started wondering if the whole thing might be a bar sting operation that Valenzuela hadn't picked up on. I wasn't one of the bar's favorite sons. They had come at me before. More than once.
"I asked Roulet if he had a lawyer, you know? A criminal defense lawyer, and he said no. I told him about you. I didn't push it. I just said you were good. Soft sell, you know?"
"Was this before or after Dobbs came into it?"
"No, before. Roulet called me this morning from the jail. They got him up on high power and he saw the sign, I guess. Dobbs showed up after that. I told him you were in, gave him your pedigree, and he was cool with it. He'll be there at eleven. You'll see how he is."
I didn't speak for a long moment. I wondered how truthful Valenzuela was being with me. A guy like Dobbs would have had his own man. If it wasn't his own forte, then he'd have had a criminal specialist in the firm or, at least, on standby. But Valenzuela's story seemed to contradict this. Roulet came to him empty-handed. It told me that there was more to this case I didn't know than what I did.
"Hey, Mick, you there?" Valenzuela prompted.
I made a decision. It was a decision that would eventually lead me back to Jesus Menendez and that I would in many ways come to regret. But at the moment it was made, it was just another choice made of necessity and routine.
"I'll be there," I said into the phone. "I'll see you at eleven."
I was about to close the phone when I heard Valenzuela's voice come back at me.
"And you'll take care of me for this, right, Mick? I mean, you know, if this is the franchise."
It was the first time Valenzuela had ever sought assurance of a payback from me. It played further into my paranoia and I carefully constructed an answer that would satisfy him and the bar-if it was listening.
"Don't worry, Val. You're on my Christmas list."
I closed the phone before he could say anything else and told my driver to drop me off at the employee entrance to the courthouse. The line at the metal detector would be shorter and quicker there and the security men usually didn't mind the lawyers-the regulars-sneaking through so they could make court on time.
As I thought about Louis Ross Roulet and the case and the possible riches and dangers that waited for me, I put the window back down so I could enjoy the morning's last minute of clean, fresh air. It still carried the taste of promise.
Excerpted from The Lincoln Lawyer by Michael Connelly Copyright © 2005 by Hieronymus, Inc..
Excerpted by permission.
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