Defense attorney Mickey Haller steps to the other side of the aisle in Connelly’s latest courtroom thriller. New DNA evidence has provided convicted child-killer Jason Jessup with a retrial. The DA approaches Haller with a proposition to prosecute Jessup as a consultant - and possibly save the county a lot of money. Unsure of the DA’s motives, Haller makes two demands: as prosecutor, Mickey gets to choose his second chair and lead investigator.
Jessup is the kind of criminal that law enforcement wants to keep behind bars for the rest of his life. Unfortunately, after twenty-four years, many of the former detectives and witnesses have died. It is Mickey’s job, with the able assistance of Maggie McPherson, to build a case with only one witness: the sister of the murdered girl who identified Jessup at the first trial. Traumatized by what she saw, Melissa Landy’s
then-thirteen-year-old sister, Sarah, has spent the intervening years trying to obliterate the nightmare from her memory: “That man killed three people that day.”
Although Maggie is Mickey’s first wife and the mother of a daughter near the age of Jessup’s victim, Haller leans heavily on her expertise, as well as the instincts of LAPD’s Detective Harry Bosch of the Robbery-Homicide Division. It is Bosch’s duty to track down an unwilling Sarah, who has left a trail of arrests and drug rehab failures in her wake. Bosch’s efforts are critical to Haller’s case, his dogged investigation of the defense’s witness list yielding the angle Jessup’s lawyer plans to take in getting an acquittal for his client. Through the slick Clive Royce, Haller has a front-row seat to the very tricks that have helped him as a criminal defense attorney.
Nothing is predictable in this trial - sometimes contentious discussions with McPherson, Bosch’s moody silence as the case digs deep into his soul, the challenges faced by a witness whose past is filled with drugs and despair, even the activities of the new media star, Jessup: “His eyes went from the steely glare of the predator to the wounded eyes of the victim.” The courtroom is a stage in The Reversal, the jury avidly attentive to Sarah as she fends off questions meant to undermine her testimony. From courtroom to home turf, the action moves between the intricacies of the legal system and an unpredictable judge to hours of research and witness preparation, Bosch growling in frustration as Jessup roams the streets a free man.
Connelly never lets up, either in courtroom theory or personal conflicts faced by his characters and the ties that bind them together. But even the best-laid plans go awry when monsters are unleashed upon the world to prey on the innocent: “There were certain kinds of evil in the world that had to be contained, no matter what the hardship.” The lessons keep coming, Mickey mistrusting his own motivations, determined to find justice for Melissa Landy. Ultimately, there are more questions than answers, justice blindfolded and inscrutable.