(Not) Assumed Innocence

I find it kind of funnily apropos that my lawyer-uncle gave me The Law of Innocence by Michael Connelly as a gift a few years ago. We somehow often get each other for not-so-secret Santa and equally often exchange books. This week, I finally got around to reading it and man alive, it was so good, it kept me up past my bedtime!

(Real quick, here’s a link to my vlog)

TLI follows the Lincoln Lawyer, Michael (Mickey) Haller as he is about to litigate the case…of…his…LIFE. This time, he’s defending himself against life in prison because he’s been accused of murder.

Now how did a defense lawyer find himself as his own client? Let me tell you–

One night, after a big win and some celebratory non-alcoholic drinks, Haller is on his way home when he’s stopped for a traffic stop that’s anything but routine. When the cop investigates his vehicle, he finds a surprise in Haller’s trunk–a dead man. A dead man Haller defended some time ago.

He’s almost instantly whisked away to prison and thrown into trial prep, which is pretty difficult when you’re behind bars. What makes things more difficult is that the prosecutor, Dana (Ice)Berg is on the other side of the lectern, and she is a true believer that Haller is a murder. But, as Haller points out–what kind of murderer kills a guy in his own garage, in his own car, and then drives around with the body for a whole day? Either a really weird one, or someone who’s been framed.

Can Haller defend his way to the big NG [not guilty]? Will he ever find out who really killed his former conman client?? Will IceBerg ever stop being such a massive jerk???

Well, you’re just going to have to read it for yourself, and, imho, you definitely should.

This was such a well written book! It’s long, my copy clocked in at just over 400 pages, but the pacing makes it feel so much shorter. A pull quote on the back says that “Connelly knows how to tell a story,” and that assessment is on pointe.

I loved how charismatic Haller was, how complex the case became, it really felt like I was watching a really good, compelling crime drama. There were times when I’d realize how far in the book I had gotten and worried “how are they going to prove him innocent?! I’m running out of book!” It was just such a page turner.

I think some of it is just the idea of a defense attorney defending himself is intriguing. I think some of it is also the character development–like I said, Haller’s charismatic and Berg’s a jerk. But the other characters, especially like Judge Warfield (her name totally fits her personality, btw) were also just so developed and realistic that I eagerly tore through the book to get to the next scene, especially the trial scenes.

Something I found interesting is that this story takes place months before COVID, so it was fun to see this hyperrealistic twist to the story. For instance, there are references to how the president “assures people it will pass” and at the end, that there was no toilet paper on the shelves. Perhaps years from now, this will date the book, but I really appreciated this attention to temporal detail.

In fact, all the attention to detail was supreme. From describing the characters’ expressions to the food pseudo-smuggled (it wasn’t actually smuggled, but after only eating bologna sandwiches, Haller ate it like it was contraband), everything was just so vividly rich.

I definitely recommend to anyone who likes crime dramas and realistic fiction. If you like mob stories, there’s a sprinkling of that in TLI for you too. There are obviously “adult” themes like murder, and there were a few mentions of “making love,” but I don’t think either is a particularly big red flag. Overall, this book was just so fun and rich and compelling that I think most fiction and true-crime people will enjoy it!

That’s all I’ve got for now–next week I’m going to read The Paris Wife by Paula McClain.

Happy Reading!

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