Book Talk: ‘The Law of Innocence,’ another Connelly winner
Michael Connelly is a prolific and highly respected author. About 80 million copies of his three-dozen crime/mystery novels have sold worldwide. Twenty-two of them are in his Hieronymus “Harry” Bosch series, although Harry occasionally appears in some of his other titles. And that is the case in the book that I’ve just finished, “The Law of Innocence,” which is the latest offering in the Lincoln Lawyer series.
Connelly takes us right into the essence of the plot when defense attorney Mickey Haller gets pulled over by Officer Milton for failing to have a license plate on his Lincoln. But that’s not the only problem, there’s blood leaking from the trunk and a body with bullet holes inside it.
Charged with murder and hit with an offer of $5 million bail, he has to mount his defense from a cell in L.A.’s Twin Tower Correctional Facility. Borrowing a bait-and-switch technique from John Grisham’s “The Rainmaker,” Haller traps the prosecution in a violation of court procedure, gets his bail reduced, and — with financial help from his half-brother Harry Bosch and a former client — gets out of jail to prepare for court.
But Haller wants more than a court decision. In court, there’s no such thing as “innocent.” There’s just guilty or not guilty; hence the title that Connelly chose for this tale. However, his jailhouse trick has angered prosecutor Death Row Dana, and she’s more determined than ever to put Harry away for life.
Haller’s team needs to find out what scam Sam Scales, the victim, was working at the time when he was killed, but little is known about his recent activities. When it is discovered that he spent time in the High Desert Prison near Las Vegas, Haller goes to talk with Neiderland, the man who was his roommate.
“Are you trying to find out who killed him?” Neiderland asked. “Or are you just worried about proving you didn’t?”
Haller answers, “The only way to prove I didn’t do it is to prove who did…. That’s the law of innocence.”
One of the problems facing Haller is the fact that Death Row Dana Berg, a.k.a. Iceberg, is a true believer in his guilt, and she’s willing to bend the law a bit to prove it. But she’s up against Judge Violet Warfield, a former defense attorney, who seems to favor Haller, but must maintain an atmosphere of fairness.
Meanwhile, Haller, who is handling his own defense (with a lot of help from his first ex-spouse, Maggie “McFierce,” who otherwise works for the District Attorney), is haunted by the maxim, “A lawyer who represents himself has a fool for a client.” And the adage becomes almost prophetic as Haller’s defense begins to fall apart: the “straw man” is killed, a key point of argument is not allowed, and the FBI becomes involved with a case that is “bigger” than the conviction of an innocent man.
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Jim Glynn may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.