Review: The Brass Verdict by Michael Connelly

Mickey Haller is a Los Angeles-based lawyer who hasn’t been practicing for the past year or so. All that changes when an acquaintance of his is murdered and Mickey inherits all of Jerry Vincent’s cases. Among these is the ‘franchise case’ (a term I’ll leave it to Mickey to explain) of movie studio owner Walter Elliot who is accused of murdering his wife and her lover. Such a case will put money in Mickey’s bank account and, if he wins, get his career back on track. However, the detective investigating Vincent’s murder, one Harry Bosch, is convinced that Vincent’s murder is connected to one of his cases, which may mean that Mickey is now in danger.

I listened to this book’s predecessor a couple of years ago and while I thought it could have done with a good edit, overall I enjoyed it. Unfortunately about the best I can say of this one is that it passed the time in a marginally more entertaining way than listening to the conversations of my fellow commuters would have done. It felt like Connelly had deliberately failed to include all the things I liked about The Lincoln Lawyer (Haller’s complex character make-up, a range of cases being tackled and solidly entertaining court room scenes) and incorporated all the elements I didn’t like much the first time around.

Perhaps because of the personal traumas he has experienced since the events depicted in The Lincoln Lawyer Mickey’s character has changed somewhat here. If he were someone I knew in real life this would be good news as he is less uncompromising and not as self-absorbed but as a fictional character he’s become a bit of a bore. He is now another mutli-divorced, substance-addicted bloke trying to re-connect with his child. Yawn. He’s also developed a conscience which, again, is more desirable in one’s real life acquaintances than fictional ones, especially when it results in a thoroughly predictable and saccharine-soaked ending. This is really where the book lost points with me as it was a total copout on just about every level.

The rest of the book was simply flat. The big legal case which occupies most of the narrative was completely uninteresting due to its central character being as emotionally disconnected from events as he could be. With legal thrillers I don’t mind if the accused is guilty or innocent but I want to care about that one way or the other. I want to be rooting for the innocent man to be set free or the guilty one to get what’s coming and at least be disappointed (if not devastated) if the appropriate result is not forthcoming. In short I want to feel invested in the case, its participants and its outcome whereas here I felt bored. The victims of the murder were barely described at all, the suspect was a cold, uninteresting fish and even Haller didn’t have a whole lot riding on the outcome of the case in the end.

To be fair the court room scenes were very good and added real tension, but they didn’t start until the last third of the book and by then I’m afraid my attention had waned considerably. I did like the fact the book explored the notion of the so-called justice system being much more about pizzazz and the size of your bank account than about determining innocence or guilt but even this was done in a rather detached way and without any real depth. The incorporation of Connelly’s more well-known character, police detective Harry Bosch, didn’t seem to add much to the story to me but I’m not a reader of those books so perhaps I missed something there.

My enjoyment of this book was, unusually, even hampered by the audio book narrator whose voice I found lacking in nuance (virtually the entire tale was told in a mildly aggressive monotone). The pronunciation was a little off as well. For example Mickey’s often repeated surname is rhymed with dollar throughout the book; a fact which annoyed me so much I did some digging (well I asked the good folks of the 4MA reading group) after finishing and discovered it wasn’t just my Australian ears finding fault, his name should rhyme with caller.

As is usual I am out of step with just about everybody who has read this book which has won awards galore and received glowing reviews aplenty. Sometimes I can see what it is about a book that others might like and simply acknowledge a difference of taste but here I’ll admit to being genuinely astonished when reading other people’s descriptions of the very same book. I feel like I have read a completely different work of art that was, through my eyes, bland and totally predictable.

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As I mentioned almost everyone else disagrees with me so do check out some other reviews including those at Mysteries in Paradise, Petrona and Reviewing the Evidence.

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My rating 2.5/5
Author website http://www.michaelconnelly.com/index.html
Narrator Peter Giles
Publisher Orion Publishing [2008]
ISBN N/A (downloaded from audible.com)
Length 11 hours 27 minutes
Format audio (mp3)
Book Series #2 in the Mickey Haller series (with a special appearance by Harry Bosch)
Source I bought it

11 thoughts on “Review: The Brass Verdict by Michael Connelly

  1. Bernadette – I am sorry to hear you didn’t think that much of this book. I have to admit I liked it much more than you did. That said, though, it doesn’t matter how few people agree with you about it; you brought up genuine concerns you had. Where you and I do agree is the discussion of what “counts” in the justice system and of course, the courtroom scenes. Now, I admit I’m a Bosch fan, so for me, it added to the story to have him there…

  2. I liked this book along with almost all michael connellys (he had a flat period before 9/11 but that galvanised him with some great story lines about state interference in individual freedoms). Possibly it was the audio format? I’ve grown to love this series even though they are nothing like as detailed now as the first few novels. Sorry your experience of it was not better.

      • I must have some adjustments to make to my search tool that I use when looking for reviews because that review did not show up when I was looking for others to link to.

    • I can’t entirely blame the audio format as I started this book in print format and couldn’t get through it, I was bored to tears with the whole thing. I’m generally more forgiving of audio books so thought I’d give it a go in that format. It was shame the narrator wasn’t better but even so I just never cared about any of the people or what was happening to them. This is my third Connelly (actually my fourth as I found and old notebook of books I’d read from quite some ago and THE BLACK ECHO was listed in there with 2 stars next to it but I cannot remember a single thing about it) and I haven’t really gotten into any of them in a significant way so I think I’ll just have to acknowledge that he and I are not meant for each other.

  3. I see what you mean. I like Connelly’s legal thrillers, but he set the bar so high with The Lincoln Lawyer — which I mentioned to other readers for months after I read it — that I was let down with The Brass Verdict. I didn’t think it held a candle to the first one with Haller. I thought the denouement was a letdown, and that the book kind of sagged. As I said, I was comparing it to the first Haller and was a bit disappointed.
    The Reversal is better, courtroom dialogue sparkles. It has both Haller and Bosch’s points of view. And Haller is a prosecutor with his former spouse.
    And The Fifth Witness, the latest foray into Haller’s life and profession is very good, excellent courtroom dialogue, witty, and up to par.
    So I do understand the letdown. I would not have given this one the high rating I’d have given The Lincoln Lawyer, nor what I’d give The Fifth Witness.
    By the way, I pronounce Haller to rhyme with mallard.

    • I think I’m done with Connelly thanks Kathy, though good to know that you thought the later books were better. However I think with all the other books competing for space on my TBR piles I’ll be leaving Connelly alone for a long time.

  4. Legal thrillers are a favorite genre of mine, ever since I was a teen-ager and watched Perry Mason on tv and read the books. And I will search for legal thrillers, with the proviso that there is good, snappy courtroom Q&A and dialogue.
    However, so much to read, so little time! Go to it, dig into that TBR pile. We get to read the reviews, a good deal.all around.

  5. Pingback: Books of the Month – July 2011 | Reactions to Reading

  6. I’m only half way through this book and had to stop to read the reviews of others. The word DISSAPPOINTED does not begin to express how I feel. The dialogue between Haller (Hollar) sounded like something you would hear in a playground rather than two ‘streetwise’ people and, why did Mickey’s stint in rehab cause him to talk like a girl. Should I keep reading, will this be addressed?
    I loved the Lincoln Lawyer and will try another book, but then that’s it!

    • I don’t remember anything like that being addressed Karen…but I really don’t remember much about the book at all now….it’s been six months since I read it and it’s not one that stayed with me.

      I have come to the conclusion that Michael Connelly and I are not meant for each other…I can live with it and I’m sure it won’t bother Connelly a jot.

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