The Law of Innocence (Lincoln Lawyer #6, Harry Bosch World #34), by Michael Connelly

Eight stars

Michael Connelly is back with his favourite lawyer, whose office is a Lincoln that travels around the streets of Los Angeles, helping those in need. Michael ‘Mickey’ Haller has quite the reputation in his profession, though he is sure to have made some enemies. When he’s taken into custody for murder, Haller will have to use all his skills to defend himself, showing that The Law of Innocence is not just a textbook sentiment. Perfect for fans of Connelly’s loosely interconnected series, as well as though who love a great courtroom thriller.

After celebrating another win, defence lawyer Mickey Haller is headed home, only to be stopped by a traffic cop. What begins as a routine missing plate, soon gets out of hand when blood is seen dripping from the bumper. Before long, the body of Sam Scales is found in Haller’s trunk and the hotshot lawyer is dragged off to jail, about to face a murder charge. While Haller professes his innocence, many feel that this could be a form of retribution for a past client’s not listening to his lawyer.

As Haller tries to work all angles and defend himself, he elicits the help of those in his office, as well as former LAPD Detective Harry Bosch to make sense of it all. It’s proven that the body was dumped and killed in Haller’s garage, but there’s much more to the story than meets the eye, including an angle that has the FBI playing coy.

While Haller is not faring well in prison, his sharp mind helps develop a reasonable defence that seems to be winning over the judge. However, the prosecution refuses to let egg settle on its face and pulls a fast one, citing new and damning charges that all but ensure that Haller will spend a long time in prison. This is not how Mickey Haller imagined spending the winter of 2020.

Working with a co-counsel he knows well, Haller must prove his innocence to a panel of jurors who appear eager to hear what the state has to say. It’s sure to be a cutthroat trial where innocence will come second to the ability to spin tales. Haller has everything to lose as he finds himself in the hot seat, somewhere he’s not used to sitting.

I have always enjoyed the work of Michael Connelly, who is able to develop a story that hits the reader in the gut, using many of his great characters to entertain the reader. This piece, which seeks to put savvy defence lawyer Mickey Haller in the shoes of his clients, opens up some new and exciting avenues for the curious reader.

Mickey Haller is a great protagonist in this piece. He shows off his style and pizzazz, but is also relatable as he does what he knows best, defence work. Like his half-brother, Bosch, Haller gets to the root of the issue and uses those around him as inspiration. A father who is trying to ensure his daughter respects him, Haller seeks to show that there are time when the law is not entirely fair, though he never disparages the system in which he earns his living. Forced to use all he knows to save his own skin, Haller will have to show just how conniving he can be when his life’s on the line.

Connelly keeps things interesting with a slew of other characters, some of whom series fans will know well, peppered throughout the narrative. As with many of his novels, Connelly has crafted the perfect mix of good and bad people to push the story along, all connected to the trial in some form. There are some great subplots that emerge in this novel, utilising these supporting characters to offer poignant angles Haller himself could not develop alone. With a cameo appearance by Harry Bosch, fans of that series get a little dose of their favourite retired LAPD detective.

While the ‘Harry Bosch World’ series is long and drawn-out, those that focus on Mickey Haller have been limited. I love Harry Bosch and all he brings to the table, but his half-brother also have some quirks that are worthy of the spotlight. Michael Connelly does well with this novel to develop a strong legal thriller and propels the story forward with a paced narrative that is full of legal jargon. The reader can easily feel as though they are part of the action, with wonderful banter, both in and outside the courtroom. Chapters of various lengths keep the piece from getting too laborious, though there are times when detail takes time to come to fruition, something that Connelly knows well. This is also the first book I have read where the author uses COVID-19 as an interesting ‘window dressing’ to the larger narrative. Well done and placed perfectly so as to involve but not interfere with the overall delivery. I cannot wait to see what else Michael Connelly has for us, as fans await the next season of Bosch on Amazon Prime.

Kudos, Mr. Connelly, for another winner. I loved the concept and thoroughly enjoyed Bosch’s cameo within the story.

A Book for All Seasons, a different sort of Book Challenge:

The Night Fire (Renée Ballard #3, Harry Bosch #22), by Michael Connelly

Eight stars

Michael Connelly returns to continue the torch passing between two of his key police detectives, doing so in brilliant ways that will keep the reader talking for the foreseeable future. Harry Bosch is privy to an unexpected gift when attending the post-funeral party of his first partner at the LAPD. A murder book from a case back in 1990 holds much, though it would appear nothing has been done in almost three decades. He brings this nugget to Renée Ballard, his quasi-partner, who continues to light it up within the LAPD on her night shift. Working off the books together, they pry into the past and seek to determine who might have shot John Hilton, a homeless drug addict. While not an heir to the hotel fortune, Bosch and Ballard work the case as they would any other, looking into gang ties and other clues that drop at their feet. In a case from so long ago, it is hard to find those who might remember, or choose to share. While juggling the case, both find themselves caught up in some other work. Bosch is brought in by flashy defence attorney—and his half-brother—Mickey Haller, to find the killer of a judge. Haller is sure his client is being used as a scapegoat, though the evidence is strong. Ballard finds herself looking into many cases on the ‘late show’, including a fire that killed a homeless man in his make-shift tent home. While the Hilton case gains a little steam, Bosch and Ballard will have to do whatever they can, as gangs are lifelong and bringing up old skirmishes have a way of angering people anew. A wonderful addition to the series that sees Ballard stealing more of the limelight in what could be a significant change for series fans. Recommended to those who love a gritty police procedural, as well as the reader who has long enjoyed Bosch in all his permutations.

I can usually count on Michael Connelly to come up with a strong story when Harry Bosch is involved. I can now say that Renée Ballard fits that statement as well, as she seems to be a ‘Bosch-lite’, but still just as determined. This new partnership is working well and keeps the story moving at a fast pace. Ballard continues to be a star on the night shift, pushing through cases and working as hard as can be, but also finding time to dig through old cases with her quasi-partner/mentor Bosch. Her backstory remains unchanged, but she seems to be creating more of a name for herself, which is helpful as the series looks to be moving towards her as the sole protagonist. Connelly lobs a bomb of sorts for the attentive reader, as they learn more about Bosch and what awaits him. Could this be a way of moving away from the star detective and making room for Ballard to have a solo career? Only time will tell. With a brief appearance by Mickey Haller, some readers—myself included—may pine for more Haller-centred novels, which could surely keep Bosch working. That being said, I love these crime thrillers, no matter which angle—police or lawyer—takes centre stage. The story was strong and kept me curious throughout. The banter between the two protagonists is further enshrined as Connelly uses first-person narratives for each of them, providing insight and first-hand knowledge as the plot thickens. A mix of chapter lengths keeps the reader guessing which twist awaits, though there is surely no limit to the action and intensity. I have come to enjoy Ballard as she seems to take over the storyline, though have come to see that Bosch’s 22nd novel sees him as gritty as ever, which I hopes does not end too soon.

Kudos, Mr. Connelly, for another wonderful piece. You bring your stories and characters to life in these novels and I hope you have many more ideas in the near future.

A Book for All Seasons, a different sort of Book Challenge:

Dark Sacred Night (Bosch # 21, Renée Ballard #2), by Michael Connelly

Eight stars

Always finding ways to be unique with his writing, Michael Connelly offers up something different for his fans in this latest novel, which mixes two of his most talked-about protagonists. Two detectives from two jurisdictions, sharing their life stories and bound together by a single cold case that has them fully committed. While working the ‘late show’, LAPD Detective Renée Ballard comes across former LAPD legend Harry Bosch flipping through old files. Ballard soon learns that Bosch is working a cold case while things are slow down at San Fernando PD. After some digging of her own, Ballard approaches Bosch to see if he needs any help, particularly obtaining information within the LAPD. Thus begins a loose partnership between the two as they look into the murder of a teenage prostitute from almost a decade before. Bosch is doing this as a favour to someone he knows, but remains somewhat circumspect on why he’s being so nice. While Bosch and Ballard work their respective cases on different shifts, the Daisy Clayton investigation continues to heat up. With information tying her abduction and eventual murder to a non-descript van, Bosch and Ballard try to narrow down the list of suspects, while staying on top of the drama that shapes their own lives. The more they work together, the better they get to know one another, so different and yet so in sync. Could this be the ultimate pairing that no one saw coming? And does the murderer, hiding in the shadows, stand a chance with these two detectives on their heels? Connelly mixes some strong Bosch work with the still evolving Detective Ballard to create a great story that allows fans to get their fill of both characters. Recommended to fans of both series who always wondered, ‘what if…?’

I quite enjoy Michael Connelly’s work, spanning an interesting career. I am also a fan of authors who blend their series protagonists together, just to see how the chemistry will play out. Connelly has done it before, but this new connection could be an even more interesting fit, given the newness of Renée Ballard on the scene. Those who enjoyed Ballard’s introduction as a protagonist are able to extract a little more about the woman and her policing style, as well as the grit that emerges when she works alongside LAPD legend, Harry Bosch. As with his involvement in the series that bears his name, Bosch has grown and changed, but always seems to have new and exciting angles yet to be revealed. His backstory and development seem set in neutral, but there are always crumbs on which the series fan can feast, even as Bosch teeters on the brink of giving it all up. However, many would ask what happens to Bosch when he can no longer shape policing and help those in need. Connelly pokes at this bear in this piece, leaving the reader to wonder if Bosch’s days are finally numbered. The story was a brilliant mix of a handful of cases, seen through the eyes of both protagonists. Mixing the narrative angles, the reader is able to see both Bosch and Ballard working through things from their perspectives, as well as a joint effort to find this killer who has slipped through the cracks for nine years. The story moves along at a wonderful pace, offering struggles for both detectives while also seeing them grow closer together. This connection is one that cannot be ignored and should not be shunned, as there is much to be seen when it comes to it. A mentor-mentee situation could be budding and who better than Harry Bosch to have as a guide?

Kudos, Mr. Connelly, for a wonderful series that seems only to get better. Bring on more, when time permits. Your fan base grows with each new publication!

A Book for All Seasons, a different sort of Book Challenge:

Two Kinds of Truth (Harry Bosch #22), by Michael Connelly

Eight stars

Michael Connelly has been hard at work to bring readers another instalment in the Harry Bosch series. With Bosch having such a long existence in the crime thriller world, some permutations had to be expected with the 22nd novel. Three years away from the LAPD, Bosch has been contentedly working for the San Fernando PD as a detective. His current focus is the piles of cold cases that haunt the region. When Bosch is visited by a former partner and two other officials, he learns that a man sitting on death row that he put away for murder three decades ago has been given another chance by the LAPD Convictions Integrity Unit (CIU). After opening an investigation when another man confessed to the crime, DNA not previously processed was found on the victim’s clothing. Additionally, there is an attempt to sandbag Bosch, citing that he went rogue and planted evidence. As Bosch tries to process this, he is called out on a fresh case, where two pharmacists have been killed at work. With the CIU investigation pushed to the back of his mind, Bosch begins exploring the dark world of drug-dealing by scrip, where plants are sent into pharmacies (sometimes willing) and having hundreds of prescriptions filled for oxy pills, only to have them released on the streets. The deeper he digs, the more complex the web Bosch discovers. While he may be a few years away from dealing with warm victims, Bosch will stop at nothing to get to the bottom of this case. Meanwhile, turning to his half-brother, Bosch engages the services of Mickey Haller to help him through the mess that is CIU and the upcoming hearing to clear the name of a death row inmate. Does Bosch have enough recollection to keep his name clear from the mud? Can Haller pull a proverbial rabbit out of a hat? How can they dismiss the video of a sealed evidence container holding clothing that was stained with DNA that did not belong to the killer? Readers are treated to a wonderful story that does not let go until the bitter end. Perfect for series fans who enjoy a little Bosch with their mystery.

I have long been a Michael Connelly fan and this novel helps support that claim. It is a successful author who can juggle a series for as long as Connelly has kept Bosch going without allowing things to go stale. Connelly finds new angles and approaches for his protagonist to ensure that the grit for which Bosch is so well known does not dull. Pulling on a few threads from Bosch’s background or personal life, Connelly pulls the reader into the middle of the man’s life, as well as his acclamation to a smaller and less vigorous life as a cold-case detective. Bosch is surrounded by many secondary characters, some new and some long-established, all of whom complement (never compliment) Bosch on his journey through the narrative. The story is clean and the premise poignant, as oxy drugs supersaturate the market now. Connelly shows his research is strong and all-encompassing to present such a wonderful story, pulling on various parts of the underworld. I can see Bosch continuing his strong reign within the crime thriller genre, helped by the superior writing of Michael Connelly. Surely Haller fans with also enjoy what the author has done in this meshing story.

Kudos, Mr. Connelly, for this wonderful piece. Some have commented that things are going off the rails, though I cannot see it myself. I wonder if you have ideas about meshing all your L.A. characters in a coming novel.

A Book for All Seasons, a different sort of Book Challenge: