The Lincoln Lawyer

 , a novel by Michael Connelly

All The Lincoln Lawyer editorial reviews in one page

The New York Times

Harry Bosch is the hard-boiled, world-weary cop at the center of many of Michael Connelly's crime novels. He is tough, brooding and dogged, an appealing noir character. So Harry has always looked like a hard act to follow. He'll look that way until "The Lincoln Lawyer" introduces the bottom-feeding attorney Mickey Haller to Connelly's devotees.

Harry Bosch has high standards. Mickey Haller's morals are less exalted. Mickey makes himself instantly memorable for explaining how he advertises his services on bus benches in high-crime areas and bribes bail bondsmen at Christmas, sending out cans of Planters holiday nut mix actually filled with cash. Then he eats the leftover nuts out of Tupperware for a couple of months. "Since my last divorce," he explains, this is "sometimes all I get for dinner."

Mickey blows into "The Lincoln Lawyer" courtesy of an opening paragraph that's a genre classic. He is describing the fresh, clean atmosphere that will soon be totally absent from this story. "When it starts blowing in like that," he says of the Mojave winter breeze, "I like to keep a window open in my office. There are a few people who know this routine of mine, people like Fernando Valenzuela. The bondsman, not the baseball pitcher. He called me as I was coming into Lancaster for a 9 o'clock calendar call. He must have heard the wind whistling in my cell phone."

The book sustains that momentum as Valenzuela alerts Mickey to a big score: a Beverly Hills client picked up for assault and attempted rape. The guy may be repugnant, but he sounds like a client whose case can be prolonged in ways highly beneficial to his lawyer. Mickey refers to this kind of client as a franchise. He ought to know. He's as hot a franchise as any mystery writer could hope for.

Mickey's advertisements in the Yellow Pages used to read "Any Case, Anytime, Anywhere." But he had to change that because his territory is so full of crime. You could fill the Rose Bowl twice a year with potential clients, he reasons. ("The thing to remember is that you don't want clients from the cheap seats. You want the ones sitting on the 50-yard line.") And if those clients are as unsavory as they are well heeled, so much the better. Soon Mickey is defending a man he dislikes while artfully manipulating the case for his own reasons.

"The Lincoln Lawyer" had its start at a Dodgers game. Connelly ran into a lawyer there and got wind of some of the realities of the profession. It's clear that his skills as a journalist came into play, in a novel that describes the way court-appointed lawyers - the ones paid by what the book calls "Uncle Sugar" - meet at the ballpark to compare notes and insights into how a tough judge squelches the lawyers' grandstanding. Connelly did some research with a judge who allowed him access to her courtroom and clearly taught him the rules of the game.

The book's grounding in legal realities also involves the acquittal of the actor Robert Blake and the chilling effect of this verdict on prosecutors. By the book's end, Mickey has fully exploited the fact that prosecutors are terrified of such embarrassments and will do anything to avoid them. The book also pits Mickey against a new young by-the-numbers lawyer who is no match for a schemer with Mickey's acumen. "He froze, unsure how to proceed," Connelly writes, after the kid has stepped into one of Mickey's traps. "He didn't want to raise his foot for fear that the mine would detonate and blow it off."

"The Lincoln Lawyer" has a wonderful title. It not only refers sardonically to Mickey's lost ideals but also describes his way of getting around town. Always hustling, he has bought four Lincolns in bulk and keeps two in storage. The one he favors has a vanity plate reading "NT GLTY."

He is chauffeured by a former crack dealer, Earl, an ex-client who owes Mickey money and is working off the debt. Of course Mickey is too cagey to let Earl know where he lives.

The book is haunted by Mickey's worst nightmare: the thought of having to defend an innocent man. By the end of the story an Honest Abe conscience has begun to kick in. That's when Mickey becomes a Connelly character through and through.

by Janet Maslin, The New York Times

Washington Post

Michael Connelly is as scary as any of the plots he devises, which is saying something. In mid-May of this year, he published The Closer, the latest novel in his continuing series about LAPD detective Harry Bosch, 400 pages of intelligent, scrupulously researched, witty and smoothly written drama from which it was almost impossible to tear oneself away. Now here it is the second Sunday in October, and, incredibly, Connelly is back, with another 400 pages of exactly the same as above, except that this time around he's writing - for the first time - about lawyers, which, as it turns out, he does almost as well as John Grisham does.

Almost but not quite. Grisham has been in the law his entire working life, and he knows it with an intimacy that, among contemporary American novelists, only Scott Turow can match. Connelly is a reformed journalist who covered crime in two places that have plenty of it, Florida and Los Angeles, so he knows the law more as an observer than as a participant. Mickey Haller, the protagonist of The Lincoln Lawyer, is as cynical about the law as any of Grisham's lawyers, but one doesn't sense that this cynicism is drawn out of the deep well of experience that enriches Grisham's work. Still, if the best of Grisham's legal novels grade in at a solid A, The Lincoln Lawyer gets an equally solid B+, which isn't exactly bad for the first time out.

Plainly and simply, Connelly always knows what he's doing. His prose is clean and from time to time betrays a hint of passion. His characters are invariably believable and, where appropriate, sympathetic, sometimes against type. He knows Los Angeles inside and out and evokes it with such verisimilitude that you can't help thinking of Raymond Chandler. His plots are intricate and sometimes tricky, but I've yet to find a significant hole in any of them. He obviously enjoys what he's doing (he'd have to, to publish two novels in a single year), and he conveys that to his readers, a rare gift in any writer.

"Lincoln lawyer"? Another phrase for it would be "ambulance chaser." Mickey Haller has an office in the back seat of his Lincoln Town Car, a half-page ad in the Los Angeles Yellow Pages, and his phone number blaring forth "on 36 bus benches scattered through high-crime areas in the south east county." His "rate schedule . . . starts with a $5,000 flat fee to handle a DUI and ranges to the hourly fees I charge for felony trials." His phone is answered by his second ex-wife, Lorna Taylor, who is his case manager. His first ex-wife and mother of his only child, a daughter, is Margaret McPherson, known around the Van Nuys courthouse as Maggie McFierce, "one of the toughest and, yes, fiercest deputy district attorneys."

Of course, Maggie can't prosecute a case if she has a personal relationship with the defense attorney, which suits Mickey just fine when a bail bondsman steers him to what may just be the first "franchise client" he's had in almost two years:

"Every attorney who works the machine has two fee schedules. There is schedule A, which lists the fees the attorney would like to get for certain services rendered. And there is schedule B, the fees he is willing to take because that is all the client can afford. A franchise client is a defendant who wants to go to trial and has the money to pay his lawyer's schedule A rates. From first appearance to arraignment to preliminary hearing and on to trial and then appeal, the franchise client demands hundreds if not thousands of billable hours. He can keep gas in the tank for two to three years. From where I hunt, they are the rarest and most highly sought beast in the jungle."

Louis Roulet, 32 years old, the son of a wealthy self-made real-estate operator, handsome and self-confident, looks for all the world like a franchise client. He's been arrested in the apartment of Regina Campo, 26, an actress wannabe who's slipped down the slope to prostitution. He meets her in a bar, they size each other up, she names a price of $400 and tells him to be at her apartment at 10 p.m. Soon after he gets there, though, strange and violent things happen. When the police arrive, Reggie has blood all over herself, and the left side of her face is badly battered. Louis is on the floor, held there by two men who live nearby, with blood all over his left hand; soon a bloody knife is found with his initials on it. The cops run him in, and he's soon before a judge on charges of attempted rape and attempted murder. His mother and her society lawyer make it plain that money isn't a problem, so when Maggie has to quit the case Mickey is hugely relieved: The franchise looks as if it's in for a huge payday.

Cynical? You bet. Mickey is the son of a famous defense lawyer whom he hardly knew - he was the unexpected offspring of a second marriage, and his father died when Mickey was 5 - but from whom he inherited a powerful case of the legal hots. Any ideals or illusions he cherished while young have vanished: "The law school notions about the virtue of the adversarial system, of the system's checks and balances, of the search for truth, had long since eroded like the faces of statues from other civilizations. The law was not about truth. It was about negotiation, amelioration, manipulation. . . . Much of society thought of me as the devil but they were wrong. I was a greasy angel. I was the true road saint. I was needed and wanted. By both sides. I was the oil in the machine. I allowed the gears to crank and turn. I helped keep the engine of the system running."

The people whom Mickey represents are mostly guilty: drug dealers, drunk drivers, petty criminals, hard cases. He usually gets them off or gets them much lighter sentences and penalties than they really deserve. He's so accustomed to guilt that when Roulet declares his innocence passionately, angrily and persuasively, Mickey finds himself at sea: "I was always worried that I might not recognize innocence. The possibility of it in my job was so rare that I operated with the fear that I wouldn't be ready for it when it came. That I would miss it." He thinks he's found just such a client in Roulet, and he doesn't quite know how to handle it. As he tells Raul Levin, the private investigator who often works for him, "If I had only known it this morning, I would have charged him the innocent man premium. If you're innocent you pay more because you're a hell of a lot more trouble to defend."

That's only the beginning of it. Something about the Roulet case puts Mickey in mind of Jesus Menendez, who, facing charges eerily similar to those confronted by Roulet, took an early plea on Mickey's advice because, though Menendez insisted on his innocence, Mickey thought the evidence against him was irrefutable. Now Menendez is in San Quentin. Mickey visits him there, where Menendez "looked at me with eyes as dead as the gravel stones out in the parking lot." He shows Menendez some pictures, and the prisoner's response tells him at once "that Jesus Menendez had been innocent. Something as rare as a true miracle - an innocent man - had come to me and I hadn't recognized it. I had turned away."

So now Mickey has two missions: to defend his client and to get Menendez out of San Quentin. Now, too, is the moment when it's up to you to find out what happens and how, because from here on out the story belongs strictly to Connelly. Suffice it to say that events conspire to force Mickey, in the words of a Tupac Shakur song, "to be a man in this wicked land." He does get more or less what he wants, something approximating justice, but it's at a high price, and he hasn't recovered from the labor of it as the novel ends. What happens in those final pages, as well as all the pages leading up to them, has the ring of truth. It's not a pretty story, but the world in which Mickey Haller works isn't a pretty place. Michael Connelly knows it all too well and writes about it with chilling authority. He's not a "genre" novelist but the real thing, taking us into parts of the real America that most of our novelists never visit because they don't even know where, or what, they are.

by Jonathan Yardley, Washington Post's Book World

Book Reporter

Michael Connelly is best known for his breakout novel The Poet and his hard-driving police procedurals starring Harry Bosch. But the latest addition to his ever-growing body of work is neither a police procedural nor a classic psychological thriller. Rather, it is a departure that introduces a whole new venue: a legal suspense tale titled THE LINCOLN LAWYER. Here he introduces readers to Michael "Mickey" Haller, a defense attorney who is always looking for the "franchise client" who will change his life. "A franchise client is a defendant who wants to go to trial and has the money to pay his lawyer's rates. From first appearance to arraignment to preliminary hearing and on to trial and then appeal, this kind of client demands hundreds if not thousands of billable hours. From where Mick sat they are the rarest and most highly sought beasts in the jungle."

Mickey Haller is a cynic with a philosopher's approach to life. "After fifteen years of practicing law he had come to think of it in simple terms. The law was a large, rusting machine that sucked up people and lives and money." Of himself he says, "I am just a mechanic. There is nothing about the law he cherished anymore. The law is not about truth. It is about negotiation, amelioration, manipulation." He continues in this mode by stating, "I was needed and wanted. By both sides. I was the oil in the machine. I allowed the gears to crank and turn. I helped keep the engine of the system running."

As the novel opens Haller receives a call from Fernando Valenzuela, a bail bondsman he has worked with for years. Together they are waiting for that franchise client to drop into their laps. "I got something. I think I got a franchise player here." The "something" is Louis Ross Roulet, arrested for what seems to be a bar pick-up turned deadly. "Guy's gotta be big money. Beverly Hills address, family lawyer waltzing in here first thing. This is the real thing, Mick. They booked him on a half mil and his mother's lawyer came in here today ready to sign over property:didn't even ask to get the bail lowered."

Haller agrees to interview the fellow in his holding cell at the jail, but he is too streetwise and savvy to even begin to think that this one is the case at the end of his financial rainbow. When he finally has the opportunity to meet this would-be client, Haller thinks, "Most of the time my clients have been in lockup before and they have the stone-cold look of the predator. It's how they get in jail. But Roulet was different. He looked like prey. He was scared and he didn't care who saw it and knew it."

One of the hardest stumbling blocks to a good defense is talk, jabber, chatter, sentences and paragraphs that all consist of words. Haller opines, "Most of my clients talk way too much. Usually they talk themselves right into prison." After admonishing Roulet to keep his mouth shut, Haller leaves his new client in the holding tank and enters the courtroom. Valenzuela has already warned him that Maggie McPherson, aka Maggie "McFierce," has been assigned to this case. She is "one of the toughest and:fiercest assistant district attorneys assigned to the Van Nuys courthouse. She also happened to be his first ex-wife" and the mother of his only child. She is not happy to see him. His presence here means she has to recuse herself from any participation in the Roulet matter, which could have been a career maker for her. But she gives the case up with good grace and still maintains her close friendship with her ex-husband.

The overriding nightmare that haunts Mickey Haller is the possibility that he might not recognize an innocent man if he is ever called to defend him. As the case moves forward and he gets to know his client, he admits, "I felt uneasy about Roulet's story. It seemed so far-fetched that it might actually be true. And that bothered me. I was always worried that I might not recognize innocence. The possibility of it in my job was so rare that I operated with the fear that I wouldn't be ready for it when it came. That I would miss it." Later in the narrative he berates himself for not being able to recognize evil when it stares him in the face.

This conflict between good and evil is what drives the mystery writer. Without these two concepts they would have nothing to write about. And Michael Connelly is a master at grasping his characters' angst in regard to "good" vs. "evil," which provides readers with just the right amount of suspense. Here he shows his talent as a master choreographer of the dance that lawyers perform regardless of which side of the courtroom they inhabit. His books are brilliantly constructed, the writing is strong and lucid, his plots have enough twists and turns to satisfy the most ardent reader, and his characters are always easy to recognize. He never writes down to his audience or takes them for granted.

The Lincoln Lawyer is a courageous book in that it catapults Connelly out of the boundaries set by a series. Harry Bosch is a formidable and unforgettable character. He may be missed on this outing, but he is a staple in the top-notch procedurals that Connelly writes and will surely be back. In the meantime, this new novel will not disappoint those familiar with Michael Connelly or those new to his work.

by Barbara Lipkien Gershenbaum, Book Reporter

Entertainment Weekly

Connelly centers his first legal thriller, The Lincoln Lawyer, on a crackerjack new hero: Mickey Haller, a criminal defense attorney who works out of the back of his Lincoln Town Car, shuttling between various Los Angeles courthouses while calling in to ex-wife No. 2, his business manager who runs credit checks on potential clients, and sparring with ex-wife No. 1, a city prosecutor. One day, he scores a potential gusher in Louis Roulet, a wealthy Beverly Hills real estate scion arrested for the brutal attack of a woman he picked up in a bar. While the book's villain turns out to be a tad too one-note, Connelly presents a fascinating look at how defense lawyers below the Johnnie Cochran level operate - as well as a compelling mystery that has more sudden turns than Mulholland Drive.

by Thom Geier, Entertainment Weekly

Guardian Unlimited

Connelly has risen to the challenge of reinvigorating the legal thriller in this, probably his best book since The Poet. Mickey Haller is a a third-division lawyer who works out of his car, picking up clients through his network of contacts among bail bondsmen and bribed court officials. The people he defends are invariably guilty; his job is to seek out the chinks in the legal system that might get them off. Nonetheless, he's a mostly likable guy, with ex-wives still on talking terms and a very elastic conscience. Then comes the big-money case, in which a rich man is accused of battering a woman, and Haller is confronted by genuine evil. How he wriggles his way through the system makes for a gripping and sadly believable tale.

Guardian Unlimited, guardian.co.uk

Publishers Weekly

Connelly's first legal thriller has gotten virtually universal raves for its courage, plotting and humor-and those qualities also make the audio version a triumph. Grupper vividly brings to life Connelly's large cast of characters: from the shrewd, hard-working criminal defense lawyer Mickey Haller-whose office is the back seat of his Lincoln Town Car and who spends his advertising budget in the Yellow Pages-to the sleazy collection of biker outlaws, con artists and prostitutes who make up most of his clients. Grupper is especially subtle as he reads the words of Louis Ross Roulet, a Beverly Hills real estate agent charged with attempted murder-a character whose guilt and motives darken at every appearance. Haller distrusts Roulet almost immediately, but he also sees the man's wealthy mother as the source of the long-running financial franchise every criminal lawyer longs for. Grupper's take on Connelly's scenes between Haller and Roulet is taut and fascinating: an audio tour-de-force of the highest order. Equally compelling are Haller's scenes with his two ex-wives; his friend and investigator; and a compelling client from the past who went to prison because Mickey couldn't believe he was innocent.

Publishers Weekly, publishersweekly.com

Library Journal

Mickey Haller defends low-life criminals who seem to offend habitually. With no actual office in which to hang his law degree, he works out of the backseat of his car. When a wealthy client lands in Mickey's lap, he thinks he has found a dream case. The evidence indicates a frame, and Mickey believes he might actually be defending his first truly innocent client. While he manipulates the system to his advantage, Mickey discovers that he is being maneuvered as well. Connelly, author of the best-selling Harry Bosch police procedurals (e.g., The Closers), proves he can handle even the legal thriller genre with this intricate and cynical look into the criminal justice system.

by Jeff Ayers, Library Journal

Publishers Weekly

Veteran bestseller Connelly enters the crowded legal thriller field with flash and panache. Los Angeles criminal defense attorney Mickey Haller regularly represents lowlifes, but he's no slickster trolling for loopholes in the ethics laws. He's haunted by how he mishandled the case of (probably innocent) Jesus Menendez, and, though twice divorced, he's on good terms with his ex-wives; one of them manages his office, and the other, an ambitious assistant DA, occasionally tumbles back into bed with him. When Mickey signs on to defend young real estate agent Louis Roulet against charges of assault, he can't help seeing dollar signs: Roulet's imperious mother will spend any amount to prove her beloved son's innocence. But probing the details of the case, Mickey and private investigator Raul Levin dig up a far darker picture of Roulet's personality and his past. Levin's murder and a new connection to the Menendez case make Mickey wonder if he's in over his head, and his defense of Roulet becomes a question of morality as well as a test of his own survival. After Connelly spends the book's first half involving the reader in Mickey's complex world, he thrusts his hero in the middle of two high-stakes duels, against the state and his own client, for heart-stopping twists and topflight storytelling.

Publishers Weekly, publishersweekly.com

The Barnes & Noble

In the first-ever legal thriller by crime novelist Michael Connelly, author of the bestselling Harry Bosch saga (The Closers, The Narrows, Lost Light, et al.), ethically ambiguous defense attorney Mickey Haller's search for innocence in a high-profile case involving a young Beverly Hills playboy leads him to the ultimate evil...

A veteran defense attorney, Haller is understandably cynical about the system. ("The law was a large, rusting machine that sucked up people and lives and money. I was just a mechanic. I had become an expert at going into the machine and fixing things and extracting what I needed from it in return.") When a "franchise" case falls into his lap, one that could give him his biggest payoff ever, Haller jumps at the chance to defend a rich realtor accused of brutally beating and attempting to rape a wannabe actress with a shady background. The baby-faced realtor is vehement about his innocence, and as Haller begins to build his case, he's confident of victory - that is, until he inadvertently discovers something that will not only overturn an old murder case but also put him and his crew in mortal peril?

Fans of Connelly's previous Harry Bosch novels will find The Lincoln Lawyer even more compelling - since Haller happens to be Bosch's half brother and, according to sources, there is a sequel in the works that includes the maverick former LAPD detective! Like its luxury-auto namesake, The Lincoln Lawyer is a sumptuous thriller that excels in every measurable category: plot complexity, character development, pacing, intensity, etc. It is, quite possibly, Connelly's best yet.

by Paul Goat Allen, The Barnes & Noble

San Francisco Chronicle

Is there nothing Michael Connelly can't do? After taking ownership of police procedurals with his Harry Bosch series, Connelly tries his hand at a Scott Turow-style legal thriller. And he nails it.

The Lincoln Lawyer focuses on Mickey Haller, a Los Angeles defense attorney who knows the ins and outs of the system, especially as they pertain to his cash flow.

Haller thinks he's got it made when he lands a "franchise client," a wealthy real estate agent accused of viciously attacking a prostitute. The client, Louis Roulet, adamantly maintains his innocence, and Haller thinks the case will be a slam dunk.

He's wrong. The case spirals out of Haller's control as it becomes increasingly clear that Roulet is harboring a secret or two (not least his past involvement in other cases, one of which may have resulted in another of Haller's clients going to San Quentin).

This gives "The Lincoln Lawyer" two exciting shots of adrenaline: the lawyer defending someone he knows to be guilty of terrible deeds (including the murder of a friend), and the scheme he concocts to set things right without violating the attorney-client privilege and being disbarred.

Connelly's work has it all - sharply drawn, engaging characters, snappy dialogue and a plot that moves like a shot of Red Bull. As with Turow, he also understands that a good legal thriller is primarily about the law, not lawyers acting like crime-fighters. It's amazing how many authors seem to forget that.

by David Lazarus, San Francisco Chronicle

Amazon.com

Best-selling author Michael Connelly, whose character-driven literary mysteries have earned him a wide following, breaks from the gate in the over-crowded field of legal thrillers and leaves every other contender from Grisham to Turow in the dust with this tightly plotted, brilliantly paced, impossible-to-put-down novel.

Criminal defense attorney Mickey Haller's father was a legendary lawyer whose clients included gangster Mickey Cohen (in a nice twist, Cohen's gun, given to Dad then bequeathed to his son, plays a key role in the plot). But Dad also passed on an important piece of advice that's especially relevant when Mickey takes the case of a wealthy Los Angeles realtor accused of attempted murder: "The scariest client a lawyer will ever have is an innocent client. Because if you screw up and he goes to prison, it'll scar you for life."

Louis Roulet, Mickey's "franchise client" (so-called becaue he's able and willing to pay whatever his defense costs) seems to be the one his father warned him against, as well as being a few rungs higher on the socio-economic ladder than the drug dealers, homeboys, and motorcycle thugs who comprise Mickey's regular case load. But as the holes in Roulet's story tear Mickey's theory of the case to shreds, his thoughts turn more to Jesus Menendez, a former client convicted of a similar crime who's now languishing in San Quentin. Connelly tellingly delineates the code of legal ethics Mickey lives by: "It didn't matter...whether the defendant 'did it' or not. What mattered was the evidence against him - the proof - and if and how it could be neutralized. My job was to bury the proof, to color the proof a shade of gray. Gray was the color of reasonable doubt." But by the time his client goes to trial, Mickey's feeling a few very reasonable doubts of his own.

While Mickey's courtroom pyrotechnics dazzle, his behind-the-scenes machinations and manipulations are even more incendiary in this taut, gripping novel, which showcases all of Connelly's literary gifts. There's not an excess sentence or padded paragraph in it - what there is, happily, is a character who, like Harry Bosch, deserves a franchise series of his own.

by Jane Adams, Amazon.com

Amazon.co.uk

It's always good to welcome a Michael Connelly novel, and The Lincoln Lawyer is a strong addition to the Connelly bookshelf. This stand-alone legal thriller has all the adroit plotting and no-nonsense prose that are Connelly's trademarks, with a particularly strong protagonist.

In the hierarchy of American lawyers, 'Lincoln lawyers' are not held in the highest esteem. These are criminal defence attorneys who run their practices from a travelling Lincoln car, traversing the county of Los Angeles to hoover up whatever work is available, however basic. Connelly's tarnished hero is Mickey Heller, who has fine-tuned this less-than-impressive side of the legal profession to such a degree that few can match him: he knows all the ins and outs of the system, including precisely who to slip a back-hander to when appropriate. But Mickey finds a way to move upmarket when he acquires a well-heeled client. A rich young man from Beverly Hills has been arrested for savagely assaulting a woman, and the case falls in Mickey's lap. And though the lawyer is used to defending clients who are guilty as sin, it actually looks (for once) that his client is innocent. But Lincoln lawyers like Mickey are fully aware of the lottery that is their profession, and he isn't too surprised when the case goes pear-shaped. But (to his dismay) Mickey slowly learns that neither his client nor the victim in the case is quite what they seem to be, and soon there's a lot more than a penny-ante case at stake, with Mickey's life quite as much at risk as any reputation he might have.

Connelly fans (an ever-growing army) will be pleased to hear that all the customary traits are fully on offer here, with one key component even more finely honed than usual: the gritty, idiomatic dialogue, which is richer and more entertaining than usual.

by Barry Forshaw, Amazon.co.uk

AudioFile

It's appropriate that this audio publisher chose a new voice for Connelly's latest character, criminal lawyer Mickey Haller. Adam Grupper turns in a supercharged performance as Haller, who conducts most of his business from the back seat of his Lincoln Town Car. He's called upon to defend a rich woman's playboy son, who is arrested for brutally beating a prostitute. Mickey Haller is no Harry Bosch, and he's not meant to be. His character is younger - as is the sound of Grupper's voice - and he's less discriminating about morality. Still, as portrayed by Grupper, you can't help liking him. He blends just the right amount of attitude, wit, and toughness to deliver a Cadillac performance.

AudioFile, audiofilemagazine.com

Booklist

Defending deadbeats is a way of life for Los Angeles attorney Michael "Mickey" Haller. Operating out of the back seat of his Lincoln Town Car (hence the moniker, "Lincoln Lawyer"), Haller takes on the case of Louis Ross Roulet, a rich, young Beverly Hills realtor accused of beating a prostitute. Roulet's guilt or innocence is of little concern to Haller, who sees him as nothing more than a "franchise," a client who can make him a lot of money over an extended period of time. But the deeper Haller digs, the more he suspects Roulet might have been framed. Links to a past case, which landed a client on Death Row, prompt the jaded lawyer to reassess his professional M.O. This is the first legal thriller for Connelly, author of the best-selling series featuring Los Angeles police detective Harry Bosch and winner of every major prize in crime fiction. It has all the right stuff: a sinuous plot, crisp dialogue, and a roster of reprehensible characters (including a marijuana- and crystal meth-dealing biker and an internet con artist who steals credit card numbers through a tsunami relief fund). As the trial progresses, Mickey ponders the words of his late lawyer father, who knew the most frightening client of all was an innocent man. "If . . . he goes to prison, it'll scar you for life."

by Allison Block, Booklist

Fantastic Fiction

New York Times bestselling author Michael Connelly delivers his first legal thriller an incendiary tale about a cynical defense attorney whose one remaining spark of integrity may cost him his life.

Mickey Haller has spent all his professional life afraid that he wouldn't recognize innocence if it stood in front of him. Haller is a Lincoln Lawyer, a criminal defense pro who operates out of the backseat of his Lincoln Town Car, to defend clients at the bottom of the legal food chain. It's no wonder that he is despised by cops, prosecutors, and even some of his own clients.

From bokers to con artists to drunk drivers and drug dealers, they're all on Mickey Haller's client list. But when a Beverly Hills rich boy is arrested for brutally beating a woman Haller has his first high paying client in years. It's a franchise case and he's sure it will be a slam dunk in the courtroom. For once, he may be defending a client who is actually innocent.

But an investigator is murdered for getting too close to the truth and Haller quickly discovers that his search for innocence has taken him face to face with a kind of evil as pure as a flame. To escape without being burned, Haller must use all of his skills to manipulate a system in which he no longer believes.

Fantastic Fiction, fantasticfiction.co.uk

Chicago Sun-Times

After 15 highly regarded novels, in which the protagonists generally were assigned the white cowboy hats, reporter-turned-novelist Michael Connelly has invented a character who works the other side of the legal fence and would find a black Stetson a better fit. Indeed, criminal attorney Mickey Haller has attained success defending just the kind of vermin Harry Bosch, Terry McCaleb and Kizmin Rider wouldn't hesitate killing if they resisted arrest and the situation called for swift and extreme justice.

Haller, like many other criminal defense lawyers based in Los Angeles County, works a circuit of far-flung courtrooms that often requires hundreds of miles of travel each day. He goes through Lincoln Town Cars so quickly that he recently bought three at the same time.

To accomplish such a feat, Haller employs a former client - who wouldn't otherwise be able to pay off his legal fees - to chauffeur him around the county, while he returns phone calls and prepares for the next hearing. When the sanctity of the lawyer-client relationship needs preserving, Haller instructs his driver to don headphones and turn up the volume on his iPod. For all intents and purposes, the back seat of the Town Car is his office, although he still depends on one of his two ex-wives to screen potential clients and make sure the books are kept (the other is a prosecutor).

Haller is a mercenary, and the vast majority of his clients pay dearly for his ability to get them off on technicalities and other legal chicanery. Since most are guilty - to some degree, at least - of the crimes they're accused of committing, it's money well spent.

Not that Haller would mind having his name used as the punch-line for a thousand shady-lawyer jokes. Word of mouth pays the bills and keeps the tank of his Lincoln filled to overflowing. After years of such dubious achievement, however. Haller suddenly is becoming afraid he "wouldn't be able to recognize innocence," even if it stood in front of the path of his Town Car.

"After fifteen years of practicing law, I had come to think of it in very simple terms. The law was a large, rusting machine that sucked up people and lives and money. I was just a mechanic. I had become expert at going into the machine and fixing things and extracting what I needed from it in return.

"There was nothing about the law that I cherished anymore. The law school notions about the virtue of the adversarial system, of the system's checks and balances, of the search for truth had long since eroded like the faces of statues from other civilizations. The law was not about truth. It was about negotiation, amelioration, manipulation. I didn't deal in guilt and innocence because everybody was guilty. Of something. But it didn't matter because every case I took on was a house built on a foundation poured by overworked and underpaid laborers. They cut corners. They made mistakes. And then they painted over the mistakes with lies. My job was to peel away the paint and find the cracks. To work my fingers and tools into those cracks and widen them. To make them so big that either the house fell down or, failing that, my client slipped through.

"Much of society thought of me as the devil but they were wrong. I was a greasy angel. I was the true road saint. I was needed and wanted. By both sides. I was the oil in the machine. I allowed the gears to crank and turn. I helped keep the engine of the system running."

It would be hard to construct a more succinct summation of a cynic's view of the American legal apparatus than that. But Connelly uses it as jumping-off point for a story in which ethically blind lawyers lead a famously blind justice system through a maze of misplaced values, all in the service of morally blind clients and politicians blinded by power.

By comparison, the case that brings all of these disparate elements together is simplicity itself: a Beverly Hills real-estate agent, Louis Roulet, has been accused of attempting to rape and murder a woman he picked up in a bar. Prosecutors will try to convince a jury that Roulet went to the woman's apartment with the sole purpose of committing such an atrocity, while Haller will argue that his client was being set up by a prostitute less interested in a guilty verdict than the settlement in a civil suit that might come with it.

After that, things get really complicated.

Only the most observant of Connelly loyalists are likely to recall that Haller and Harry Bosch have something in common, which may pay literary dividends in the future. In Connelly's second novel, The Black Ice, the hard-boiled police detective recalls how he discovered that his father was a famous attorney, J. Michael Haller. This makes him a half-brother to Mickey Haller, and, given their divergent views on the law, a possible rival in novels to come.

I, for one, can't wait.

by Gary Dretzka, Chicago Sun-Times

Bookmarks Magazine

The Lincoln Lawyer, a legal thriller, departs both in character and genre from Connelly's crime-fiction series starring Harry Bosch. As it turns out, Bosch and Haller are half brothers-a convenient device to link the novel to Connelly's popular series. Critics agree that his new character-a man who finds holes in the system to aid guilty clients and is forced to question his own moral code-is just as compelling as Bosch. In fact, notes The Oregonian, the novel "seduces us into rooting for a guy we detest." As usual, Connelly paints a convincingly shady world of flawed heroes, prostitutes, real estate agents, drug dealers, and cops, all the while delving into legal ethics, court procedures, and media issues. It's a fast-paced, unpredictable ride.

Bookmarks Magazine, bookmarksmagazine.com

Curled Up

Best known for his Heironymous Harry Bosch series of books (The Closers, Trunk Music, The Narrows, The Black Echo, The Black Ice, The Concrete Blonde) Michael Connelly dips his toes into legal thriller waters with The Lincoln Lawyer.

The aptly fitting title revolves around criminal defense attorney Mickey Haller, who works out of the back of his Lincoln Town Car. Haller gets a call from Fernando Valenzuela (no, not the baseball pitcher, but a bondsman) about a case that could be a ?franchise? ? in other words, a big money case involving a rich playboy - Louis Ross Roulet from the Hollywood Hills. Once Haller gets Roulet out of jail, he interviews him and gets a funny feeling about the story Louis is giving him.

She opened the door a crack, saw it was me and told me to come in. There was a hallway by the front door so it was kind of a tight space. I walked by her so she could close the door. She hit me with something and I went down. It got black real fast.?

So before a single thing happened, she just knocked you out. She didn't say anything, yell anything, just sort of came up behind and bang.

That's right.

Okay, then what?

It's still pretty foggy. I remember waking up and these two guys are sitting on me. Holding me down. And then the police came.?

You were still in the apartment?

Yeah. I saw that they had my hand in a plastic bag and I could see blood on my hand, and that?s when I knew who whole thing was a set up.?

What do you mean by that?

She put blood on my hand to make it look like I did it. But it was my left hand. I?m not left handed. If I was going to punch somebody, I?d use my right hand.?

He made a punching gesture with his right hand to illustrate this for me in case I didn?t get it. I got up from my spot and paced over to the window. It now seemed like I was higher than the sun. I was looking down at the sunset. I felt uneasy about Roulet?s story. It seemed so far- fetched that it might actually be true. And that bothered me. I was always worried that I might not recognize innocence.

It's here that the book really starts cooking and you stay hooked into the story throughout the rest of the book. Michael Connelly always delivers the goods, and this time he does not disappoint. Definitely a fantastic book to tide you over until the next Harry Bosch.

by Bobby Blades, Curled Up

By Hallie Ephron: A charming con artist for the defense.

"The Lincoln Lawyer" conjures images of Honest Abe, all gravitas and wisdom. Michael Connelly's Los Angeles criminal defense attorney, Mickey Haller, has earned the sobriquet because his office is a Lincoln Town Car, chauffeured by a former client working off legal bills.

"South side drug stuff" is Haller's meat and potatoes. A smooth operator, he works all the angles - one minute he's grabbing a kickback from a bail bondsman, the next he's paying off a news photographer. It looks as if his ship is about to come in when he gets called to defend a wealthy Beverly Hills playboy accused of murdering a prostitute.

Haller has no illusions about the criminal justice system. "I didn't deal in guilt and innocence,' he quips, "because everybody was guilty. Of something." His job, he says, is to "color the proof in shades of gray." Maybe it's in the genes; Haller's father was the legendary attorney who defended notorious gangster Mickey Cohen.

So what happens when Haller realizes he may be representing a client who is completely innocent, or defending true evil? What happens when this charming con artist discovers, somewhere deep in a soul he never knew he had, a conscience?

Haller, the quintessential "bad-boy" protagonist even his two former wives like, finds himself in a lose-lose predicament with stakes raised through the roof. It's great fun to watch him wriggle and connive as the novel barrels toward a "Sting"-like ending.

Legal thrillers don't get better than this, and Connelly is at the top of his game in this departure from his usual PI/police procedural.

Gary Braver has made a career of spinning be-careful-what-you-wish-for scenarios. In "Flashback," it's a cure for Alzheimer's that works a little too well. It brings back old memories - with a vengeance.

The novel opens with any swimmer's worst nightmare. Jack Koryan is perched on Skull Rock. He's swum out to commemorate the nearby mysterious drowning, 35 years earlier, of a mother he barely remembers. The tide is rising, thunder announces an approaching storm, and as Jack gets ready to swim ashore he realizes the water is teeming with jellyfish. He has no choice but to plunge in. He survives, but the jellyfishes' toxic stings put him in a deep coma.

The novel then picks up the story of pharmacist Rene Ballard. One of her Alzheimer's patients, a resident at a nursing home, has an apparent flashback seizure and murders a CVS clerk. Ballard discovers that the patient was participating in a hush-hush clinical trial of memory-restoring miracle drug Memorine. Aside from violations of protocol - as consulting pharmacist, Ballard should have been informed - she is concerned at the drug company's eagerness to brush aside this serious "adverse event." Soon after raising the alarm, she finds herself on the receiving end of bribes, threats, and nasty tricks.

Ballard's investigation eventually leads her to Jack, who has awakened from his coma. Turns out the jellyfish toxin is the active ingredient in Memorine; and yes, he is experiencing flashback seizures.

Braver explores the dark side of clinical trials and what can happen when the fortunes of doctors and drug companies become intertwined. He creates a nightmare world, then ratchets up the terror with vividly rendered flashbacks that are not for the faint of stomach. This is a thoughtful book with an intriguing premise and a sprawling plot, pulled together with a twist at the end.

In "Tilt-A-Whirl," by Chris Grabenstein, real estate tycoon Reginald Hart (Donald Trump without the comb-over) is found shot to death early one morning in a shuttered New Jersey amusement park, sprawled in one of the ride's green plastic sea-turtle cars. His 12-year-old daughter, Ashley, is the only witness.

Enter Officer John Ceepak and his sidekick and driver, part-time summer officer Danny Boyle, who happens to be breakfasting at the nearby Pancake Palace. Ashley gives a breathless account, supplying a lucid description of the perp, and the search is on for a google-eyed drug addict who goes by the name Squeegee and leaves a trail of Timberland bootprints.

The strength of this debut novel is the two cop-protagonists. Ceepak is a larger-than-life former military policeman, just returned from Iraq, a straight arrow who quotes Bruce Springsteen, never lies, and is singularly lacking in humor (Arnold Schwarzenegger without the accent). Danny is an overgrown kid who likes being a summer cop because "chicks dig the cop cap."

Ceepak plays Holmes (he sniffs the air for "transient evidence" and analyzes tobacco residue) to Danny's Watson (he observes and narrates). A native of the summer tourist town of Sea View, Danny has ins at the local greasy spoons and no-tell motels.

Grabenstein has constructed a story that's like a Tilt-A-Whirl ride, full of unpredictable twists and turns. But an over-the-top supporting cast of stereotypical characters, including a supposedly sexually precocious 12-year-old who reads like she's 6, threatens to capsize the endeavor. Still, Grabenstein flips his cliches in surprising ways, signaling left and careening right, and there's plenty of fizz in the chemistry between the two protagonists to keep the novel and the reader spinning.

by Hallie Ephron, boston.com

twbooks.co.uk

"I hate being inside a jail. I am not sure why. I guess it's because sometimes the line seems so thin. The fine between being a criminal attorney and a criminal attorney. Sometimes I'm not sure which side of the bars I'm on. To me it's always a dead bang miracle that I get to walk out the way I walked in."

That's Mickey Haller talking. He is a Lincoln Lawyer. They are the bottom of the legal food chain, the criminal defence attorneys who operate out of the back of a Lincoln Town Car, travelling between the courthouses of Los Angeles county to take whatever cases the system throws in their path.

Mickey Haller has been in the business a long time and he knows just how to work it, how to grease the right wheels and palms, to keep the engine of Justice turning in his favour. When a Beverly Hills rich boy is arrested for brutally beating a woman, Haller has his first high-paying client in years. The evidence mounts on the defence?s side, and he is sure this is going to be a slam-dunk. He might even be in the rare position of defending a client who is actually innocent.

But as Haller knows, criminal cases can turn on a dime. When his case starts to fall apart and neither the suspect nor the victim are quite who they seem, Haller quickly discovers that when you swim with the sharks, it's easy to wind up as prey.

By Scott Turow

Michael Connelly is as fully at home in the world of a criminal defence lawyer as he has always been in the realm of investigators and cops. All the qualities that have deservedly brought him a legion of readers are on display again here: brisk pacing, clever twists, artful writing and an atmosphere of complete authority on every page. Another terrific book from a terrific writer.

Scott Turow

Crime Time

Roll over John Grisham and tell Scott Turow the news! There's a new player on the legal thriller street, and it's Connelly, whose tale of the always for hire at the right price Mickey Haller marks a change of pace for one of the very best detective story writers, into the kind of territory that promises acres of airport space and megastar movie deals. It's all eminently deserved, because Connelly not only has created a character very much different from his usual protagonists, whether they be Harry Bosch, Terry McCaleb, or whomever, but he's also switched smoothly to the other side of the fence, as it were, dealing less with the crime than the aftermath, the repercussions from it. These two points of departure go hand in hand, because it is the character of Haller, sleaze-bag with a heart of gold, that gives Connelly the leeway he needs to give depth to a tale which otherwise might get lost in the twists and turns of a very clever plot.

Spoiled Beverly Hills rich boy Louis Roulet is accused of the brutal murder of a prostitute - and to an ambulance chaser like Haller Roulet represents not only a huge and much-needed payday, but also a publicity-laden pathway into the public eye, which won't hurt business one iota. The ghost of the OJ Simpson trial is never far from Connelly's focus: the operations of law in LA revolve around the demands of publicity, and the kinds of twists and perversions of justice that are commonplace for the usual reasons of money or power in other cities have different motivations here. The outline of Chris Darden or Marcia Clark probably lies embedded in the oil stains of some parking lot of some courthouse somewhere in the Southland. Back to business: the background is right, the characters are suitably venal, and the mousetrap in which Haller finds himself is all the more gripping for being snapped long before the reader expects it. Connelly has made a remarkable debut in the legal thriller sub-genre. If you don't believe me, just read Scott Turow's blurb!

by Michael Carlson, Crime Time

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