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Wednesday, June 24, 2009

My Verdict on the Brass Verdict

The Mystery Book Club read The Brass Verdict for June.  I'm sorry I will miss the meeting this Friday, but I hope that some of the members may leave comments of their own about the book here.

Last year, the club read The Lincoln Lawyer by Michael Connelly and it was so well received that the group decided to read the "sequel" this year.  I was not as enthusiastic about The Lincoln Lawyer as other members of the club; I gave it an 84 - a solid B, so not too bad. However, I really enjoyed The Brass Verdict (BV), yes, more so than The Lincoln Lawyer (LL). (I gave the BV an 90.)

======Spoiler Comments Follow=======

Part of it is that I like Mickey Haller more in this book. He is cast as a real human, that is, flawed, in both books, but he seems less cynical in the BV.  This leads to the frustration I feel about the book's ending.  The lies of all parties involved in the complex case(s) in the BV leaves Mickey so emotionally exhausted by the end of the book that he is ready to quit, to leave the practice of law - again. This really frustrates me because Connelly really drew me into Mickey's character and the support team around him including Lorna (his ex-wife and administrator) and Patrick Henson (his newly hired chauffeur).  I am interested in the whole team, and now it appears the Haller is not going to be a candidate for another book.

Yet despite the frustration of the apparently imminent closure of his briefly established law practice, Mickey's reaction makes perfect sense and enhances his character.  He has changed a lot over the two books, to the point where the lies of his client, his deceased and murdered co-counsel, the chief judge, and even the lead detective (who turns out to be his brother) completely knocks the wind out of his sails.  As well these things should. He has been manipulated and "used" by so many characters in the story.

It's too bad.  After a well accomplished recovery from prescription medications (the LL plot left him severely wounded - the physical recovery led to dependence on pain medications), Haller jumps enthusiastically into the challenge of "inheriting" two dozen active cases from his murdered co-counsel.  Haller does some really nice things, like helping out the accused jewel thief by hiring him as a chauffeur; Connelly has me rooting for him.  But the dismaying events of the corruption of justice and bragging client steals his love affair for the practice of law. Even his own native cynicism is not enough to shield him from all these cynical people: he wants to quit.

My problem is this: if he quits and the Haller series ends, I'm am going to be unhappy; yet if he doesn't quit, I will have a tough time relating to him. Hopefully Connelly will find a work-around to bring him back.

There was  just about the right amount of tension throughout the book. A few times I thought something bad would happen when it didn't (I thought Henson would get murdered by mistake by the unknown murderer going for Haller). I had no doubt, early on, that chief judge Holder would end up as a chief suspect.  But that thought did not dim my interest in the plot.  There were plenty of other surprises built into the ending.

Bringing Connelly's Bosch into this narrative was a welcome and creative idea.  However, weaving in the clues that lead us to discover the family connection was just a little bit too far-- it was the one thing that did not resonate with me at all.

All in all - a most enjoyable read.

1 comment:

Michael said...

"Everyone lies." Boy, do they ever. Michael Haller finds himself tangled in a web of lies, and some of the liars are people one would never suspect. The Brass Verdict built on the impressive introduction of Michael Haller in the Lincoln Lawyer. We get to know Haller more, as he struggles to re-build his career after the damge suffered in the prior story. Damage that was partly self-inflicted by a man trying to live up to his father's example and inflicting pain on those closest to him. He moderates his career by being more accessible to his daughter and ex-wife. Haller builds a team in the Brass Verdict--his very own Della Street in Lorna, his own Paul Drake in Cisco, and a side-kick in the likable Patrick. Haller is still adept at operating in the moral miasmas of the law, but he still has ethical boundaries he will not cross. He grows as a man and as a lawyer, and is becoming mystery fiction's most fascinating protagonist.

The writing style is terrific, there are constant suprises, and some memorable, laugh-out-loud moments.

Out of a possible 100 points, I gave the Brass Verdict 97.

Mike Manchester

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