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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My rating 2.5/5
Author website http://www.michaelconnelly.com/index.html
Narrator Peter Giles
Publisher Orion Publishing 
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