"I have hope in God, which they themselves also accept, that there will be a resurrection of the dead, both of the just and the unjust. This being so, I myself always strive to have a conscience without offense toward God and men." -- Acts 24:15-16 (NKJV)
What if no one followed their consciences? That's the troubling portrait that Michael Connelly brilliantly displays in this courtroom drama featuring Mickey Haller, the Lincoln Lawyer. We are used to a world in which lawyers know no limits in their lust for winning. What if everyone was like that? And how would it feel to be someone like that?
Those are just some of the many interesting themes and questions that The Fifth Witness exposes.
As the book opens, Mickey Haller has fallen on hard times, scrounging foreclosure defense cases from people who can't make their mortgage payments. He's not scamming the clients . . . because there are irregularities in the paperwork associated with the foreclosures. At best, his clients will stay in their homes a little longer as owners, before being ousted or having to becoming a renter of their former property. The arrest of one of his most outspoken clients, anti-foreclosure activist Lisa Trammel, brings Mickey back to doing what he does best -- criminal defense.
Most of the book is taken up with Mickey's investigation, preparation for trial, conducting the trial, and dealing with the aftermath. If you don't like legal strategies and ups and downs, this may get a little tedious for you. As an attorney, I was impressed by how simply and how well the logic behind the legal moves is explained. In the background, Mickey is a lonely man . . . wishing he could remarry his prosecutor ex-wife, Maggie McPherson ("Maggie McFierce"), and become a full-time dad again for his teenage daughter, Hayley.
While the case proceeds, Mr. Connelly also builds up an impressive indictment of banks, mortgage processors, police, prosecutors, defense lawyers, preening judges, Hollywood deal makers, unscrupulous businesspeople, and those who look out for number one in all circumstances. Some of the characters even start to dislike themselves.
The book is very well written, spare in ways that keep the story moving . . . but with lots of unexpected plot twists to make things interesting at just the right times. I particularly liked the stream-of-consciousness parts of Mickey Haller's narration.
To me, The Fifth Witness is a breakthrough book for the Lincoln Lawyer series and for Michael Connelly. I'm looking forward to future books in this series!
Bravo, Mr. Connelly.
As some people have noted, once again a major publisher has charged too much for Canadian buyers. If you feel strongly about that, borrow a copy of the book at the library.