Mickey Haller, murderer?
On the night he celebrates a big win, defense attorney Mickey Haller is pulled over by police, who find the body of a former client in the trunk of his Lincoln. Haller is immediately charged with murder but can’t post the exorbitant $5 million bail slapped on him by a vindictive judge.
Mickey elects to represent himself and is forced to mount his defense from his jail cell in the Twin Towers Correctional Center in downtown Los Angeles. All the while he needs to look over his shoulder — as an officer of the court he is an instant target, and he makes few friends when he reveals a corruption plot within the jail.
But the bigger plot is the one against him. Haller knows he’s been framed, whether by a new enemy or an old one. As his trusted team, including his half-brother, Harry Bosch, investigates, Haller must use all his skills in the courtroom to counter the damning evidence against him.
Even if he can obtain a not-guilty verdict, Mickey understands that it won’t be enough. In order to be truly exonerated, he must find out who really committed the murder and why. That is the law of innocence.
Just wanted to post a very quick review of Michael Connelly’s latest thriller. I read it in two late-night sittings, on tenterhooks: I just had to know how Mickey Haller was going to get himself out of his latest predicament. If you’re a fan of Connelly’s novels, then you’ll no doubt have already picked up/read this one. If you still haven’t given Connelly’s thrillers a try, then I can’t recommend them highly enough. Gripping, well-paced, and another excellent read, The Law of Innocence did not disappoint.
The Law of Innocence includes all of the hallmarks of a Connelly novel, and particularly those elements he saves for the Haller series: examinations and critiques of the US legal/justice system; seat-of-his-pants lawyering from Haller (it’s quite stressful, at times); and a good investigative build-up that leads to an interesting trial. Of course, this time, it’s Haller himself who’s on trial and, with a little help from his friends, he’s defending himself. Hovering over the story is also the spectre of the COVID-19 pandemic inching closer to the United States, and eventually arriving. (I thought this was very well-handled and incorporated into the story.) There are also some interesting call-backs to previous Haller novels, as characters return to help or hinder his quest for justice.
The law of innocence is unwritten. It will not be found in a leather-bound codebook. It will never be argued in a courtroom. It cannot be written into law by the elected. It is an abstract idea and yet it closely aligns with the hard laws of nature and science. In the law of physics, for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. In the law of innocence, for every man not guilty of a crime, there is a man out there who is. And to prove true innocence, the guilty man must be found and exposed to the world.
As in Connelly’s other novels starring Haller, the author takes a clear-eyed look at the inequities of the US justice system. The ways in which the state and/or city abuse their positions of power, and how often citizens are treated like the enemy, or disposable. He packs the novel with interesting little details (for example, why he’s allowed to use red ink, but no others — it’s an undesirable prison-tattoo colour, apparently), as well as anger-inducing examples of what can happen to those in lock-up awaiting trial.
Connelly really is the master of pacing. I don’t know of an author who is as gifted at hooking a reader’s attention and not letting go. Before I started The Law of Innocence, I’d tried a hotly-tipped debut novel that I just couldn’t get into. So, I put that aside, and dipped into Haller’s latest outing. Next thing I knew, it was 3am and I was almost halfway through The Law of Innocence. I forced myself to go to sleep, and the next night I devoured the rest of the novel — finishing again at 3am. Just great pacing, writing, and overall construction.
The novel has a good ending and conclusion, but it’s also a very Haller ending. If you’re familiar with the character’s other novels, you may know what I mean. If not… I’m sorry. That really won’t be helpful. It’s not that it was too-neat — indeed, I had a feeling it was heading in that direction for much of the final third of the novel. In fact, the lack of a tidy ending is very on-brand for the author: I’ve always liked that his novels often don’t finish on a neatly-tied up conclusion. It gives the stories a more realistic feel.
Overall, then, another excellent novel from the master of the genre. I can’t wait to read the author’s next book — I’m particularly interested to see how, and if, he incorporates the pandemic. While I wait, I’ll have to read two of his stand-alone novels — Chasing the Dime and Void Moon — after which, I will be all caught-up.
Michael Connelly’s The Law of Innocence is out now, published by Little, Brown in North America and Orion Books in the UK.
As it happens, as I was writing this review, more details about the Netflix show based on the Mickey Haller novels was announced.
Also on CR: Reviews of Bosch #1-4, The Overlook, The Late Show, Wrong Side of Goodbye, Two Kinds of Truth, Dark Sacred Night, Fair Warning, and the Terry McCaleb novels