BOOK REVIEW: THE BRASS VERDICT
Two of the most well-known fictional modern-day courtroom and crime characters, the defense lawyer Mickey Haller and his half-brother LAPD Detective Harry (Hieronymous) Bosch, are back and teamed up in Michael Connelly's latest and much anticipated novel The Brass Verdict. As Connelly describes the meaning of the title: "On the streets, when justice is delivered with a bullet, it's called the brass verdict." Haller is recovering from an Oxycontin addiction and injuries he sustained in the last book the author features him in, The Lincoln Lawyer. He's considering getting back to practicing law after an absence of almost two years, and he gets the opportunity when a fellow lawyer (Jerry Vincent) whom Mickey has befriended in the past is murdered.
Jerry Vincent is found dead in his car, with the window rolled down, shot twice in the head. His car is in the parking garage serving his office, and though there are surveillance cameras there, they don't capture a photo of Vincent's killer. Summoned to appear before the chief judge of the Los Angeles Superior Court, Judge Mary Townes Holder, Haller learns both of Vincent's death and that he will inherit all of his former colleague's cases:
"Mr. Vincent apparently named you as his second in his standard contract of
representation. This allowed you to cover for him when he needed it and included
you, if necessary, in the attorney-client relationship. Additionally, I have found
that he filed a motion with the court ten years ago that allowed for the transfer of
his practice to you should he become incapacitated or deceased."
There are over thirty cases. The one that most immediately attracts Haller's eye is that of defending the founder of Archway Pictures, movie mogul and multimillionaire Walter Elliot. It will take every bit of Mickey's incredible skills at legal wrangling to be able to win the case. Elliot was the person who phoned in the two 911 calls from the scene of the double murder, and though the police couldn't locate the murder weapon, when they eventually test Elliot's hand and clothing they detect gun powder residue on them and arrest him. The money he's given Jerry Vincent as a down payment, a hundred thousand dollars, is what is keeping the rest of Vincent's practice flush. If Elliot decided to retain Haller, he would receive an additional $150,000 the opening day of the trial.
Disdaining offices in general, Mickey prefers to operate out of one of his fleet of three Lincoln Continentals. However, since he is taking over Vincent's cases - the ones he thinks he has a chance of winning, anyway, and that the clients decide to continue on with rather than switching to a different attorney - he decides to use Jerry's office. When he arrives there he's confronted by uniformed police officers who try to deny him entrance to the parking garage, as it's where they're conducting a "crime scene investigation." They reluctantly allow him in when he says his office is in the building.
Inside, Haller first meets Detective Harry Bosch. Bosch is systematically searching through Vincent's files, something that Mickey objects strongly to, saying: "These files contain privileged attorney-client information." They both try to order each other to leave, though Haller realizes that Bosch is only trying to figure out who might have had the motive to murder Vincent, and he asks for Bosch's card before the detective leaves.
The killer took Vincent's laptop and legal calendar with him, but Mickey knows that his life might also be at risk if the murderer didn't find what he wanted and decided to come back. Therefore, Haller promises to cooperate as much as he legally can, and they establish an uneasy working relationship. Both of them want Jerry Vincent's killer brought to justice.
The Brass Verdict is a must-read for Mickey Haller and Harry Bosch fans, and for anyone who loves dramatic courtroom novels and thrilling mysteries. The Lone Ranger, as Judge Holder calls Haller, is back in the saddle again. To win the Walter Elliot double murder case, he'll need to fire a "magic bullet" - in other words, he'll need to find the one piece of evidence that will bring a "Not Guilty" verdict. Author Michael Connelly is at the top of his form in this collaboration of his two most famous literary creations. The Brass Verdict is a book I heartily recommend. It's one of the best I've read in a long time.
REVIEWED BY DOUGLAS R. COBB
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