Set in LA, Connelly’s latest novel only adds to a stellar reputation as a writer who consistently delivers a combination of plot and character. This tale begins in a courtroom in 1992, barreling ahead to 2002 and a climax that is both satisfying and surprising.
After a serious injury and a long bout with prescription drug addiction, defense attorney Mickey Haller is prepared to ease himself back into work. But Mickey is unprepared for the caseload laid at his feet when a colleague is mysteriously murdered. Jerry Vincent has been shot in the parking structure near his office, and Haller is the beneficiary of Vincent’s cases as specified in the man’s will. Of all the new cases, an imminent murder trial is the most pressing, jury selection due the following week.
Haller assembles his team - ex-wife, Lorna, and private investigator, Cisco - in a delicate balancing act of retaining clients and building a working calendar. Unfortunately, Vincent’s laptop computer and his court calendar were in the briefcase that was stolen the night of the murder.
The homicide is Mickey’s priority: independent movie producer Walter Elliot stands accused of slaying his wife and her lover at their Malibu beach house in a fit of jealous rage. Elliot proclaims his innocence, claiming he arrived shortly after the brutal murders, but the police build a circumstantial case against the mogul in spite of the absence of a murder weapon.
Testing Haller’s mettle, Elliot begins their relationship in typical alpha-dog fashion, unwilling to hand over complete control to his new attorney. But Haller has other problems, especially Vincent’s murder and the fact that his own life might be in danger should he uncover the same information that caused Jerry’s death.
Thanks to the efforts of long-time LAPD homicide detective Harry Bosch, Haller is apprised of the danger. Bosch needs access to Vincent’s files, but Haller must protect client confidentiality. So the two men, natural enemies by trade, begin a slow dance of confidence and evasion.
Connelly knows how to pace a story and provide the intricate details that add context to his characters. The relationship between Haller and Bosch is classic, the sparring and admiration that keeps them both off guard as they attempt to do their jobs. A little out of his depth, Haller is further challenged by a judge who is monitoring his takeover of Vincent’s caseload, requiring regular progress reports.
In spite of the issues that can distract him - like the threat to his life - Haller focuses on defending a client he doesn’t like but is obligated to defend. Mickey’s instincts are as strong as ever; there is something wrong about Elliot, about this case: “The lie that became the blade that ripped the case open.” Connelly ties all the loose ends together in an unexpected climax with emotional repercussions for a lawyer back in the game, the judicial system implacably grinding on.