Book Review: The Law of Innocence by Michael Connelly @Connellybooks @littlebrown

The Law of Innocence
A Lincoln Lawyer Novel #6
Michael Connelly
Little, Brown and Company, November 2020
ISBN 978-0-316-48562-3
Hardcover

When Mickey Haller, The Lincoln Lawyer, is pulled over by the police after leaving a bar, he’s sure there’s nothing to worry about. But the cop seems intent on asserting his authority, telling Mickey his license plate is missing. Surprised, Mickey exits the vehicle, but when he’s asked to open his trunk he’s reluctant, sensing something’s up. He complies and that’s when things get decidedly worse. There’s a dead body in the trunk, a body that belongs to an old client of Mickey’s, a client who’d owed him money.

Because he’s a well-known lawyer with a reputation for getting criminals off, Haller isn’t exactly loved by the L.A. Police. He’s handcuffed, taken into custody and charged with murder. Bail is set at 5 Million and Mickey, opting to defend himself, is confident, with the help of his trusted team, he can sort this out. Housed meantime in downtown L.A,’s Correctional Facility, he is somewhat of a thorn in the eyes of the local Police and silently acknowledges that the DA, a long time adversary, is both confident and determined to make the charges stick.

Mickey’s in a difficult situation. He must exonerate himself, otherwise this charge will forever hang over him. He’s been framed, and working from his jail cell to prove his innocence is no easy task. His team, including his half brother Harry Bosch and his ex-wife, begin to investigate the charge intent on uncovering the real murderer.

The stakes are high and time is of the essence. He’s also aware of a threat to his own safety, not only from fellow prisoners, but also the guards. He has to use all his skills to walk a fine line and stay within the boundaries of the law.

Connelly does a masterful job of taking us through the investigation process, following leads that at times take him nowhere. Personally I would have liked to see more of Bosch, but of course he does get his own spotlight in the novel – Fair Warning.

This is another winner for Connelly and not to be missed…

Respectfully submitted.

Reviewed by guest reviewer Moyra Tarling, December 2020.

Book Review: Down the River Unto the Sea by Walter Mosley

Down the River Unto the Sea
Walter Mosley
Mulholland Books, February 2018
ISBN: 978-0-316-50964-0
Hardcover

From the publisher:  Joe King Oliver was one of the NYPD’s finest investigators until, dispatched to arrest a well-heeled car thief, he was framed for assault by his enemies within the force, a charge that landed him at Rikers.  A decade later, King is a private detective, running his agency with the help of his teenage daughter.  Broken by the brutality he suffered and committed in equal measure behind bars, King leads a solitary life, his work and his daughter the only lights.   When King receives a letter from a woman who admits she was paid to frame him years ago, he decides to take his own case: finding out who on the force wanted him disposed of – – and why.  As King embarks on his quest for the justice he was denied, he agrees to help a radical black journalist accused of killing two on-duty officers who had been abusing their badges to traffic in drugs and prostitutes in the city’s poorest neighborhoods.  The two cases intertwine across the years, exposing a pattern of corruption and brutality wielded against the black men, women and children whose lives the law destroyed. To solve them, King must outrun dirty cops, outsmart craven lawyers, and above all protect his daughter from the underworld in which he works.  All the while, two lives hang in the balance: King’s client’s and his own.

 

Our protagonist’s memories of his early/earlier years are mostly painful:  “the apartment building where I lived with my mother, brother, and sister after our father was sentenced and before I was old enough to run away.”  More recently, the memories are of his days incarcerated in Rikers:  “I’d been at Rikers for only thirtynine hours and already four convicts had attacked me. There was a white adhesive bandage holding together the open flesh on my right cheek.” He thinks:  “Just a few days and I’d switched allegiances from cop to criminal.  I thought that was the worst thing . . . but I was wrong . . . It’s a terrible fall when you find yourself grateful to be put in segregation.”  When he is, unexpectedly, released after about 3 months, he is allowed to shower and shave and “I saw my face for the first time in months in the polished steel mirror next to the small shower where I cleaned up.  Shaving revealed the vicious gaping scar down the right of my face.  They didn’t always offer stitches at Rikers.”

That experience colors everything that follows in this fascinating and, at times, horrifying novel from Walter Mosley, whose writing is always riveting.  At this point in his life, the brightest and most beloved thing in Joe’s life is his 17-year-old daughter, Aja-Denise, who is equally devoted to him.  Her mother, now Joe’s ex-wife, has remarried, but Joe is closer to Aja than ever; she helps him run his detective agency, where he is determined to find out who framed him.  His daughter’s latest endeavor is to attend “a special school in this Bronx church where good science students teach at-risk kids how scientists do experiments.”  Obviously, Joe couldn’t be more proud of her.

The author’s descriptions of his supporting players are always wonderful and fully descriptive, including Joe’s elderly grandmother and her boyfriend of the day, a man worth eight hundred seventy-nine billion dollars, described as a gun enthusiast and a pacifist too.  His investigation brings him to a meeting with a man who “weighed well north of four hundred pounds.  He could have willed his face to be sewn into a basketball after he died; it was that large and round,” and describes himself as “a man who didn’t even trust his own clients, a man who had experienced betrayal on almost every level.”  When his “visage was still too cop-like,” he undertakes some small superficial changes till “the transformation was now complete.  Rather than a Cro-Magnon cop I was a Neanderthal nerd.”  I will leave it to the reader to discover all the other joys of Mr. Mosley’s writing for him/herself.  The book is everything one has learned to expect from this author, and it is highly recommended.

Reviewed by Gloria Feit, February 2018.

Book Review: Peter Pan Must Die by John Verdon

Peter Pan Must DiePeter Pan Must Die
John Verdon
Crown Publishers, July 2014
ISBN 978-0-385-34840-9
Hardcover

This is the fourth entry in the series featuring retired NYPD detective David Gurney who, according to New York magazine, is “the most successful homicide dick in the history of the Big Apple.” Now in his late 40’s, he and his second wife, Madeleine, live on an old farmhouse in the rural Catskill Mountains of upstate New York, leaving New York City three years earlier (“the city where they’d both been born, raised, educated, and employed”) after 25 years on the job. Dave has agreed to help out his old friend, Jack Hardwick, with whom he has a long and somewhat fraught history: Jack had had a ‘forced departure” from the State Police Bureau of Criminal Investigation after a difficult case they had worked on together. (Hardwick is described as having “a sharp mind and sound investigative instincts . . . concealed behind a relentless eagerness to offend.”)

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