Sunday, April 8, 2012

The Fifth Witness, Michael Connelly - review

The Fifth Witness, by Michael Connelly
Sticks and stones do break the bones, and yes, words too can hurt.
(my review on Amazon)
3 stars
Michael Haller's law business is running on low, and he is handling house repossession cases, arising as a result of the financial meltdown. Therefore, he is sort of surprised, or maybe not, when one of his clients, Lisa Trammel, a "nuisance client" in Haller's words, is arrested and charged with the murder of Mitchell Bondurant. Bondurant was a senior vice president at the bank that was foreclosing on Lisa Trammel's house. To spice things up further, Lisa had been issued a restraining order (a temporary restraining order, to be precise) by a judge and ordered not to come near the WestLand Bank. Therefore, Lisa was a person who had the motive, and perhaps the opportunity too. To defend Lisa, Haller needs to find a strawman, an alternative theory, and introduce probable cause and sufficient doubt in the jury's minds to acquit Trammel of the charge. Facing him, as the public prosecutor, is Andrea Freeman, a shartp, smart, and no-nonsense person who plays to win. There is a shady Hollywood hustler, Dahl, who is trying to secure a lucrative deal for himself and Lisa for the movie rights to this story, something that Haller is also trying to sew up, more to get himself paid since Lisa is more or less financially incapable of paying Haller. There is a serious assault on Haller by unknown thugs that lands him in hospital with broken bones. In a nod to the prevalence and increasing ubiquity of social networking, there is somewhat crucial role that Facebook, the social networking site, plays. And there is a reference to Matthew McConaughey - who, incidentally, or not, played the role of Mickey Haller in the successful movie, "The Lincoln Lawyer" (see my review)!

Running along a parallel track is Haller's somewhat complicated relationship with his first ex-wife Maggie McFierce, yes - there are two ex-wives, and their daughter Haley.

The book ends with a slight twist in the tale, as has been the case with the author's two earlier Mickey Haller novels, and then there's a new, and major twist to the tale that should make the next installment of the franchise interesting.

This is Michael Connelly, the author's, third book that I read, and all three have been Mickey Haller books. Of the three, this is probably the weakest, in my (humble) opinion. There is a considerable amount of space devoted to the trial itself, in the courtroom, and to the frequent interruptions, objections, motions, and sparring between all three characters - Haller, Freeman, and judge Perry. While the basic plot and narration holds your attention, it somehow feels less than satisfying, compared to the earlier two novels. It still rates an entertaining thriller, but suffers somewhat in comparison.

Kindle Excerpt:

© 2012, Abhinav Agarwal. All rights reserved.