four-stars
Bookmarks Issue: 
53-July-Aug-2011
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0

missing imageThe author of nearly two dozen books, Michael Connelly catapulted himself into the first rank of crime writers with the bestselling Harry Bosch series. The Fifth Witness, the fourth installment in Connelly's Mickey Haller series, centers on the permanent foreclosure of a shady mortgage banker. Other titles in the series include The Lincoln Lawyer (4 of 5 Stars Jan/Feb 2006), The Brass Verdict (4 of 5 Stars Jan/Feb 2009), and The Reversal (4 of 5 Stars Jan/Feb 2011).

The Story: Taking advantage of the country's mortgage crisis to keep his beloved Lincoln Town Car-cum-office up and running, Los Angeles lawyer (and detective Harry Bosch's half-brother) Mickey Haller dips his toes into the foreclosure-defense pool, "the only growth industry in the law business." When a mortgage broker is murdered and a 35-year-old unemployed schoolteacher and squeaky wheel is arrested for the crime, Haller risks his own life to take on the case. In a courtroom spectacle screaming for the reality-show treatment--"It put a blood-and-guts twist on the nationwide financial plague and that, in turn, packed the house"--Haller senses that the book and film deals can't be far behind. But how to exonerate his media-hungry client of the murder?
Little, Brown. 448 pp. $27.99. ISBN: 9780316069359.

St. Petersburg Times 4.5 of 5 Stars
"Connelly's breathtaking mastery of suspense continues to grow, and part of what makes it work so well in the Haller books is that he has perfected Mickey's voice: confident to the point of cockiness, yet always crafty. ... You might want to save reading The Fifth Witness until you can carve out a good chunk of time--once you begin, you won't want to put it down." Colette Bancroft

South FL Sun-Sentinel 4.5 of 5 Stars
"I've said many times that Connelly continues to show why he is one of the best--and most consistent--living crime writers. The Fifth Witness adds evidence to the case." Oline H. Cogdill

Globe and Mail (CANADA) 4 of 5 Stars
"Readers who love a good down-and-dirty courtroom battle will love this superb new novel featuring Mickey Haller. ... This being Michael Connelly, there are twists and turns galore and an ending that snaps, along with a twist in Haller's own life that no one will see coming." Margaret Cannon

Los Angeles Times 4 of 5 Stars
"[Connelly's] in the entertainment business, and even his prose grace notes, of which there are plenty, are delivered as throwaways. ... I picked up The Fifth Witness one night last week, intending just to get a feel for the story, and found I couldn't put it down until I'd finished it more than five hours later." Richard Rayner

NY Times Book Review 4 of 5 Stars
"With perfect (if shamelessly calculated) timing ... , Michael Connelly's new legal mystery featuring Mickey Haller--known in certain circles as the Lincoln Lawyer because he does business out of the back seat of his Town Car--arrives in bookstores at the same time the feature film adapted from the first book in this series (also called The Lincoln Lawyer) hits the movie theaters. Despite that confluence of events, Haller hasn't gone Hollywood in this lively caper, although he does sell out to some extent by disengaging himself from his bulletproof car (acquired from a drug dealer's widow) and renting a real office, complete with a ‘nap couch.'" Marilyn Stasio

Oregonian 3.5 of 5 Stars
"Connelly brings it off in sprightly fashion leading to a double-twist, high-dive climax that sets us up for next year's Mickey Haller tale. Plot and judicial gymnastics are the focus here, making The Fifth Witness an easy, amiable read with a tang of venom for zest." Katherine Dunn

Chicago Sun-Times 3 of 5 Stars
"[Connelly] rewards readers' patience with an ending that he had foreshadowed all along but that still comes across as surprising and satisfying. It redeems Haller--and the book." Paul Saltzman

Critical Summary

Michael Connelly's success over the last two decades has given him protected status in the crime-writing world, and he's leveraged his hold on that market to develop a worthy successor to the unrivaled Harry Bosch. Predictably, Connelly's shift from the street to the courtroom has been seamless, and the author's plotting and pacing are as crisp as ever. Mickey Haller's warts-and-all charm--just ask his estranged wife or any of the mob types he's run afoul of--will carry this series for many books to come. "I wasn't sure integrity and me belonged in the same sentence," Haller muses with enviable honesty. What's not to love?