Monday, April 25, 2011


"The Fifth Witness" by best-selling author Michael Connelly (Little Brown, $27.99) is another masterpiece by one of America's best crime fiction novelists.

Torn from today's headlines, it's the latest in his popular series starring Mickey Haller, a hard-working Los Angeles attorney.

Haller has fallen on hard times - his specialty, criminal defense has been generating little business. Now he's found a new legal angle, representing people with foreclosure problems.

His most prominent client, Lisa Trammel, has been arrested for the murder of Mitchell Bondurant. He was the bank officer directing foreclosing procedures against her.

Bondurant's body has been discovered next to his car in a parking garage. Trammel, who had led protests against the bank, is the prime suspect.

After she's arrested for the murder, Haller agrees to represent her in the trial, which promises to get considerable media attention.

Haller, who's known as "The Lincoln Lawyer," because he's been operating out of the trunk of his car, finally decides to get an office.

He gathers his minimal staff and proceeds to investigate the case. He's up against Andrea Freeman, a diligent, experienced prosecuting attorney, who uses a variety of sometimes-questionable legal methods.

But Haller's no slouch when is comes to sleazy attorney tactics - he gets help from many sources as he tries to prove Trammel's innocence.

Haller uncovers a variety of possible suspects in the banker's death, even though the police have had tunnel vision, only focusing on Trammel as a suspect.

Quirky characters abound, including many members of Haller's staff; unexpected violence occurs when Haller is beaten by two thugs and ends up hospitalized.

Haller's ex-wife Maggie doesn't have quite a prominent spot as she did in "The Reversal." Los Angeles policeman Harry Bosch makes only a minimal appearance.

The first book in the series, "The Lincoln Lawyer," was recently released as a highly praised movie starring Matthew McConaughey as Haller. "The Fifth Witness" is also a prime candidate for film adaptation.

This compelling page-turner is a great, gripping legal thriller that's ideal for Connelly fans. Readers who enjoy John Grisham type courtroom scenes, with sneaky scheming and verbal battles, will not be disappointed.

Connelly's next book, "The Drop," showcasing Harry Bosch, is scheduled for release in October.
Ray Walsh, owner of East Lansing's Curious Book Shop, 
has reviewed crime novels and Michigan books regularly since 1987.

This review was originally published by the Lansing State Journal on April 24, 2011.

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