The Brass Verdict

June 13, 2009

the-brass-verdict-michael-connelly Plot summary (with possible spoilers): Hot-shot defense attorney Michael “Mickey” Haller is back in action after taking a year off from his practice in order to work through some personal issues, namely, a drug addiction resulting from taking pain meds after being gunned down by former client Louis Ross Roulet. This time around, Haller is more or less forced back into the courtroom after his friend and colleague Jerry Vincent was found murdered in his parking garage. Vincent ran a one-man shop, and his will designated Haller as the attorney of record for all of his clients should anything happen to Vincent.

At first, Haller has doubts about his ability to jump back into the swing of things so quickly — but the fact that Vincent had a high-profile case pending convinced Haller that it was now or never. The big case involves a client named Walter Elliot, a very rich, successful movie producer who has been accused of murdering his wife and her lover in cold blood at his Malibu home. Elliot denies the charges, of course, saying that he was just the one who happened to find the bodies.

Detective Harry Bosch also makes an appearance in this novel, as he and the rest of the LAPD operate mostly on the periphery while working to solve Jerry Vincent’s murder. Their investigation occasionally brings Bosch into contact with Haller, but they don’t interact nearly as much as you’d think they would.

As Haller does his own research for the Elliot trial, he realizes that things aren’t as cut-and-dried as they at first appeared. For one thing, he learns that his client might have connections to the mob and might have managed to plant a favorable juror. For another thing, the more Elliot talks about the case, the more Haller begins to be skeptical of his client’s story and innocence.

The true version of events is slowly revealed as the story progresses, and while there is something of a twist at the end, the reader can pretty much guess what’s going to happen.

Liked:

  • I think Mickey Haller is a great character, so I was happy to see another novel featuring him in the lead.
  • Haller’s discovery of the “magic bullet” in the case was pretty clever all the way around.
  • I’ve said this before, but I’ll say it again: I love reading a series of books that takes place over a decade or more, because we can see the technological advances from the real world invading theirs. When the first Bosch book came out, Harry was using a typewriter and calling the station from payphones. Now he has a cell phone, Bluetooth headset, laptop, and iPod. Great!

Disliked:

  • This novel was far too long and the courtroom scenes were far too detailed and tedious. At times, I felt as though I were in the midst of a bad John Grisham novel rather than something written by Connelly. Courtroom drama is definitely not his forte. He should stick to the stuff that happens prior to the trial.
  • The client’s lie was telegraphed a mile away. Anyone with half a brain would realize that the mob wouldn’t allow Elliot to retain all the assets in his name, especially after the net worth grew to over $100 million. What’s more, there’s no way in hell they’d allow Elliot to get married without an ironclad prenup preventing the wife from getting any of the studio’s assets in the event of a divorce.
  • What was the point of having Bosch in this book? He didn’t do anything except at the very end when Haller was kidnapped. Connelly could have easily replaced Bosch with any ol’ generic detective and achieved the same result. If I were a Harry Bosch fan (I’m not really), I would be royally pissed off that this is being billed as a “Bosch novel”.
  • Ditto for the character of Jack McEvoy. Connelly must really be in love with these fake people since he brings them back so damn often. Again with McEvoy, he played such a teeny tiny role that there was just no point to the cameo. Just give us a whole new reporter so we don’t have any expectations!
  • There was absolutely zero tension throughout the trial. Grisham, for instance, often does a masterful job of building up the suspense during a trial so the reader can’t wait to get to the verdict, but Connelly couldn’t do that here. I was skimming practically all the way through the court scenes because they were just so damn boring.

Rating:

I was extremely disappointed in The Brass Verdict because I’ve come to expect so much more from Michael Connelly. He should definitely stick to standard police procedurals, as he has shown quite clearly that he can’t handle courtroom drama. This is not a proper Harry Bosch book, so don’t be fooled into thinking it is. I give this novel 2 stars out of 5.

2 Responses to “The Brass Verdict”

  1. I was surfing around, and noticed your website. It’s interesting to see such a negative review. I have read all of Michael Connelly’s books, and I personally thought this was one of his best. I have been growing tired of the Harry Bosch novel’s. I thought The Overlook was MUCH worse then this one because it was nothing new. It didn’t add to Bosch’s storyline too much. You could of swapped Bosch with any other name and the book would of been the same. That is what I dislike about reoccurring characters because authors fall into that trap so easily.

    I personally love how he throws characters from other books. He’s done this a few times before, and I have never expected anything from it, other then a cool cameo. I like it because it feels to me like a quick nod to the dedicated Connelly fan. When I bought this book I did not have the idea of this being a “Bosch” novel. I knew it was going to be about Mickey Haller with Bosch thrown in because that is what he’s done before. I also loved the length of the book because 300 or less pages seems lazy to me for a crime novel and usually it shows in the writing and/or plot.

    I personally think this is in the top 3 Connelly books and I hope he continues bringing Mickey Haller back because I’m ready for more!

    Just a different opinion on your review. I actually REALLY like how you put LIKES and DISLIKES separately. It is very easy to read what was you thought was good/bad. Keep up the site!

  2. Hi Joe,

    Thanks for your comment! It’s interesting to get another person’s take on the same book. Reading is so subjective that you never know how other people will react to the same story. You explained your side well, and now I can see how other Connelly fans would really like The Brass Verdict. I never considered that bringing Bosch and McEvoy in could be looked at as a nod to longtime readers, but yes, I can see that now.

    Thanks again!

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