The Brass Verdict by Michael Connelly
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Returning to the courtroom after a stint in rehab, defense attorney Mickey Haller is suddenly handed a murdered colleague's caseload - along with the secrets that may have lead to his death.
Mickey Haller is an L.A. lawyer struggling to get back into business, and his colleague's murder drops a thriving practice into his lap. Eager to jump-start his stalled career, Haller takes on a high-profile murder case, but slowly realizes that his new movie mogul client may be keeping dangerous secrets. As a thriller the story lacks suspense, but there are definitely a few surprising turns, and the procedural aspect will keep legal junkies enthralled.
This is the sequel to The Lincoln Lawyer, but it's easy to follow even without reading the first book (the well-made 2011 film starring Matthew McConaughey, available on Netflix Instant, can catch you up). Connelly is best known for his long-running series starring loner detective Harry Bosch, starting with The Black Echo. Bosch even makes an appearance, a treat for readers familiar with him and his hidden connection to Mickey Haller (a connection Haller is not aware of, so I won't spoil it).
The two characters often team up in the other Mickey Haller novels, too. Haller is a bright legal eagle who sometimes struggles with the morality of defending criminals, but who knows that his role is an essential one in the U.S. justice system. He protects his clients' interests and sticks to a strong code of professional ethics (unlike Bosch, who follows a personal code).
Connelly knows L.A. and the ins and outs of its court system well, having once worked as a crime beat journalist for the Los Angeles Times. He brings in meticulous research and a sense of the way L.A.'s police and courts work.
There are many great thrillers out there, legal and otherwise, that fans of Haller and Bosch will snap up. Naturally, John Grisham (start with The Firm - there's also a 1993 movie version starring a very young Tom Cruise) is an obvious next choice for those who find they enjoy legal thrillers and have somehow missed out on the powerhouse writer of this subgenre.
Tom Clancy, The Hunt for the Red October will appeal to readers who are drawn to the procedural aspect of Connelly's series, though this time it's not the law but the military you'll read about. (Bonus, there's another 1990 movie version - these high-octane types of stories translate well at the box office.)
Anatomy of a Murder is a classic best-selling courtroom drama about a rape and a murder, written by Robert Traver (hey presto, a 1959 film! Starring Jimmy Stewart!)
And finally, for a more recent thriller: The Blue by Scott Kelly, about a man unable to recognize faces who is being stalked by a vengeful ex-marine. It's definitely on my to-read list.