Mickey Haller, aka The Lincoln Lawyer, his car often serving as his office, is celebrating a recent victory with his team. Leaving a neighborhood bar, The Redwood, Haller is pulled over by a cop. A recovering alcoholic, Haller knows he’s not in danger of being charged with a DUI because he stuck to water during the evening. Officer Milton tells him he’s missing a license plate. But the real trouble starts when Milton sees blood dripping from the trunk and citing “exigent circumstances,” initiates a search. As Haller sits in the patrol car’s back seat, Milton gazes upon the dead body of Sam Scales, one of Haller’s former clients.
The Law of Innocence is the sixth in Michael Connelly’s Lincoln Lawyer series and it meets the high bar set for all of his books. In this outing, Haller is fighting for the life of his client – himself. The prosecutor, Dana Berg, a star in the D.A.’s Major Crimes Unit, has earned her nickname “Death Row Dana,” because of her strategy to seek the maximum penalty for anyone charged with a crime. In Haller’s case, that means she might push for the death penalty. In Haller’s favor, Judge Violet Warfield was a defense attorney before being appointed to the bench. While she is known to be impartial during trials, she also knows what it’s like for a defendant to be railroaded by the prosecution.
With bail set at $5 million, Haller chooses to stay in prison, in this case, the notorious Twin Towers, rather than risk his savings by posting bond. His daughter, Hayley, is now in her second year of law school and he’s determined to pay her tuition and other costs. He also has asked for a speedy trial, hoping he can quickly win his case and be released. For Haller that means a “not guilty” verdict isn’t good enough. To reclaim his reputation, he needs to prove his innocence by finding out who killed his former client.
After several weeks in prison, breakfast and lunch consisting of baloney sandwiches, Haller is down 20 pounds. Because he’s representing himself, backed up by his associate Jennifer Aronson, investigator, Dennis “Cisco” Wojciechowski, and Cisco’s wife (and Haller’s second wife), Lorna Taylor, Haller is concerned about his appearance. He has Lorna send out all his suits to be taken in, not the first time that will be necessary. As a pro se, Haller does receive some privileges, being able to work in the prison’s library, and having regular meetings with his team. But being locked up is no way to run a defense and, fortunately, two people come to his aid, one a former client, Andre La Cosse, who was awarded a large settlement, and Harry Bosch, Haller’s half-brother and a former L.A.P.D. detective. (Bosch has his own Connelly series and oftentimes shows up in Lincoln Lawyer books.)
Despite Haller’s experienced and loyal team, proving him innocent will not be easy. Whoever devised the frame did a good job. Scales was a notorious con man, setting up fund raising in the wake of a tragedy, like the sniper incident at the Mandalay Hotel in Las Vegas, then pocketing the money. The criminal’s evil nature, plus his penchant to not pay his bills, proved too much for Haller who cut ties. Scales had other enemies, but Berg has Haller in her sights because with Scales dead, Haller could collect what is owed from the dead man’s estate.
What makes Connelly one of the best is he does his homework (or perhaps pulls from his own experience as a former crime writer for the Los Angeles Times) so that courtroom scenes and investigations, whether by the police or the defense, ring true. There are references to where we are politically. (Rejecting jury members who consistently believe the police can do no wrong, leads Cisco to checking out cars in the courtroom parking lot, focusing on those with Trump bumper stickers. It’s a legitimate strategy, but one that caused several readers on Amazon to post negative reviews.)
The Law of Innocence is another opportunity to see Haller and Bosch work together. On opposite sides of the law, they come together when needed because they are family. And in this outing, Haller needs all the family to join his fight.
The Law of Innocence
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