Thursday, April 28, 2011

Review ~ The Fifth Witness by Michael Connelly

The Fifth WitnessThe Fifth Witness
Author ~ Michael Connelly
Publisher ~ Little, Brown & Co
Publication Date ~ April 5, 2011

About the book ~ 

In tough times, crime is one of the few things that still pays, but if defense attorney Mickey Haller was expecting an uptick in business during the economic downturn, the reality is a different story. Even people needing legal representation to keep them out of jail are having to make cutbacks, it seems. In fact, the most significant part of Mickey's business right now is not about keeping clients out of jail but about keeping a roof over their heads, as the foreclosure boom hits thousands of people who were granted unrealistic mortgages in the good times and now face being kicked to the curb in the bad times.

Lisa Trammel has been a client of Mickey's for eight months — his very first foreclosure case, in fact — and although so far he's managed to stop the bank from taking her house, the strain and sense of injustice have taken a toll. The bank recently got a restraining order to prevent her from protesting against their practices. Now, a high level bank employee, Mitchell Bondurant, has been found dead in the bank's parking lot and Lisa is about to be indicted for murder.

For Mickey, it's back to what he does best on the biggest stage of all, but if he thought defending Lisa Trammel was going to be a walk in the park, he'd be wrong. Not only is he about to learn some startling truths about his client, but also about himself, and by the time the verdict is in, Mickey's whole world will have been turned upside down. 

My thoughts ~ 

Favorite line from the book  ~ "I was thinking of going to Matthew McConaughey with this. He'd be excellent. But who do YOU think could play you?" -- A producer asking Mickey Haller

The criminal cases may have dried up, but there is no shortage of legal work for Mickey Haller. With the economy the way it is, handling foreclosure cases is where the business is these days. Although he has no shortage of clients, they aren’t the clients he would like to have. His heart still belongs in criminal law. But you have to work with what you have. The one good thing is, in traveling from client to client, he works out of his favorite office – the back of his Lincoln.

Lisa Trammel used to have it all: the beautiful home, the devoted husband, and the darling child. Now she is at her wits end. Her husband has left her, she is a single mother supporting her young son, and she is about to lose her beautiful house to foreclosure. She firmly believes that something is amiss and hires Mickey Haller to save her house, hoping he will find some sort of loop-hole, manipulation, or illegal action that can stop this insane action. In her anger, despair, and frustration Lisa starts a group to fight against the injustices of foreclosures. She pushes things a bit to far and ends up with a restraining order against her, barring her from going within one hundred feet of the bank that holds her mortgage.

Mitchell Bonderant is in charge of the mortgage department and deals with foreclosures on a daily basis. He certainly has his hands full, with thousands of people defaulting on their mortgages and facing the loss of their homes. But he also has his own demons to face, holes he has dug for himself that he needs to get out of quickly. Lisa Trammel is not the only one who has issue with Mitchell.

Then Mitchell is found dead in the parking garage of the bank, his head bashed in, and his briefcase open. Is this a random robbery/murder or has Mitchell crossed the wrong person? When eye-witness reports put Lisa within a block of the bank, she is soon arrested for his murder. She vehemently denies her innocence. However, there is some definitive evidence of her guilt and some circumstantial. The question is how reliable is any of it?  Now Mickey goes from foreclosure lawyer to defense lawyer, returning him to the place he loves almost as much as the backseat of his Lincoln – the courtroom.

Mickey quickly puts his team to work: Cisco, the hard-hitting, investigator, Lorna, an ex and extremely efficient secretary, and Bullocks, his fresh-out-of-law-school associate. Together they work to wade through all of the evidence in an all-out effort to clear their client. It’s not an easy battle though. Mickey is up again a tough-as-nails prosecutor, an annoying, “manager-type” that seems to weasel his way into Lisa’s life and the case, and an every-growing mountain of evidence against his client. And there is nothing that will stand in his way from providing his client with the best defense possible, not even the threats, or the beat-down he takes.

Step by step, Mickey and his team work through the evidence. Disputing virtually everything the prosecution brings to the table taking us all the way to the stunning, didn’t-see-that-coming conclusion. Michael Connelly deals with an issue that is on the forefront of everyone’s mine today – foreclosures. With the economy struggling, this is something that millions of people are dealing with. He does a great job of explaining things in such a simple manner, that even those not completely familiar with how the process works will be able to understand. It’s great to see the struggles that Mickey continues to have in his relationships with his exes, the growth that Bullock shows as the new associate, and to have Mickey return to the back seat of his Lincoln. The Fifth Witness has more twists and turns than a Halloween maze. Michael Connellly will take you for a ride you will never forget.

 Other books in the Mickey Haller series ~

 The Lincoln LawyerThe Brass Verdict: A Novel (Harry Bosch)The Reversal 

 The Reversal (Mickey Haller & Harry Bosch)

About the author ~ 
     Michael Connelly decided to become a writer after discovering the books of Raymond Chandler while attending the University of Florida. Once he decided on this direction he chose a major in journalism and a minor in creative writing — a curriculum in which one of his teachers was novelist Harry Crews.
     After graduating in 1980, Connelly worked at newspapers in Daytona Beach and Fort Lauderdale, Florida, primarily specializing in the crime beat.  In Fort Lauderdale he wrote about police and crime during the height of the murder and violence wave that rolled over South Florida during the so-called cocaine wars. In 1986, he and two other reporters spent several months interviewing survivors of a major airline crash. They wrote a magazine story on the crash and the survivors which was later short-listed for the Pulitzer Prize for feature writing. The magazine story also moved Connelly into the upper levels of journalism, landing him a job as a crime reporter for the Los Angeles Times, one of the largest papers in the country, and bringing him to the city of which his literary hero, Chandler,
had written.
     After three years on the crime beat in L.A., Connelly began writing his first novel to feature LAPD Detective Hieronymus Bosch. The novel, The Black Echo, based in part on a true crime that had occurred in Los Angeles, was published in 1992 and won the Edgar Award for Best First Novel by the Mystery Writers of America. Connelly followed up with three more Bosch books, The Black Ice, The Concrete Blonde, and The Last Coyote, before publishing The Poet in 1996—a thriller with a newspaper reporter as a protagonist. In 1997, he went back to Bosch with Trunk Music, and in 1998 another non-series thriller, Blood Work, was published. It was inspired in part by a friend's receiving a heart transplant and the attendant "survivor's guilt" the friend experienced, knowing that someone died in order that he have the chance to live. Connelly had been interested and fascinated by those same feelings as expressed by the survivors of the plane crash he wrote about years before. The movie adaptation of Blood Work was released in 2002, directed by and starring Clint Eastwood.
     Connelly's next book, Angels Flight, was released in 1999 and was another entry in the Harry Bosch series. The non-series novel Void Moon was released in 2000 and introduced a new character, Cassie Black, a high-stakes Las Vegas thief. His 2001 release, A Darkness More Than Night, united Harry Bosch with Terry McCaleb from Blood Work, and was named one of the Best Books of the Year by the Los Angeles Times.
     In 2002, Connelly released two novels. The first, the Harry Bosch book City Of Bones, was named a Notable Book of the Year by the New York Times. The second release was a stand-alone thriller, Chasing The Dime, which was named one of the Best Books of the Year by the Los Angeles Times.
     Lost Light was published in 2003 and named one of the Best Books of 2003 by the Los Angeles Times. It is another in the Harry Bosch series but the first written in first person. To celebrate its release, Michael produced the limited edition jazz CD, Dark Sacred Night, The Music Of Harry Bosch. This CD is a compilation of the jazz music mentioned in the Bosch novels and was given away to his readers on Michael's 2003 book tour.
     Connelly's 2004 novel, The Narrows, is the sequel to The Poet. It was named one of the Best Books of 2004 by the Los Angeles Times. To accompany this Harry Bosch novel, Little, Brown and Company Publishers released a limited edition DVD, Blue Neon Night: Michael Connelly's Los Angeles. In this film, Michael Connelly provides an insider's tour of the places that give his stories and characters their spark and texture.
      His 11th Harry Bosch novel, The Closers, was published in May 2005, and debuted at #1 on the New York Times bestseller list. The Lincoln Lawyer, Connelly's first-ever legal thriller and his 16th novel, was published in October 2005 and also debuted at #1 on the New York Times bestseller list. This book introduced Mickey Haller, a Los Angeles defense attorney who works out of the back seat of his Lincoln Town Car. The movie adaptation, starring Matthew McConaughey as Haller, was released in 2011. This is the second film adapted from a Connelly novel.
     Crime Beat, a non-fiction collection of crime stories from Michael's days as a journalist, was released in 2006, as was the Harry Bosch novel, Echo Park, released in October 2006. The Overlook, Michael's 18th novel, was originally serialized in the New York Times Magazine. This Harry Bosch story was published as a book with additional material in May 2007.
     Michael's 19th novel, The Brass Verdict, was released in October 2008, and debuted at #1 on the New York Times bestseller list. It introduces Lincoln lawyer Mickey Haller to LAPD Detective Harry Bosch in a fast-paced legal thriller. Michael's 20th novel, The Scarecrow, was first released in May 2009, and reunites reporter Jack McEvoy and FBI Agent Rachel Walling for the first time since The Poet. It too debuted at #1 on the New York Times bestseller list. Michael released a second book in 2009, the 15th Harry Bosch novel, Nine Dragons. In this story, Bosch goes to Hong Kong to find his missing daughter. It is the most personal Bosch story since The Last Coyote.
     In October 2010, The Reversal was released and debuted at #1 on the New York Times bestseller list. This book has Mickey Haller and Harry Bosch working together on the high-profile retrial of a brutal child murder. The Fifth Witness, a Mickey Haller novel, was released in April 2011.
     Connelly's books have been translated in 36 languages and have won the Edgar Award, Anthony Award, Macavity Award, Los Angeles Times Best Mystery/Thriller Award, Shamus Award, Dilys Award, Nero Award, Barry Award, Audie Award, Ridley Award, Maltese Falcon Award (Japan), .38 Caliber Award (France), Grand Prix Award  (France), Premio Bancarella Award (Italy), and the Pepe Carvalho award (Spain) .
     Michael was the President of the Mystery Writers of America organization in 2003 and 2004. In addition to his literary work, Michael was one of the creators, writers, and consulting producers of Level 9, a TV show about a task force fighting cyber crime, that ran on UPN in the Fall of 2000.
     Michael lives with his family in Florida.

FTC Full Disclosure ~ The publisher provided me with a copy of this book in the hopes I would review it.