Monday, December 15, 2014

Book Review: The Fifth Witness by Michael Connelly (Mickey Haller #4)



Stars: 4 out of 5
Pros: Entertaining and fast moving murder case with strong characters
Cons: A few of the courtroom scenes are slow and repetitive
The Bottom Line:
Bankruptcy, murder
Lead Mickey to tangled web
Great ride for reader




Banking on the Fifth Witness

I took a couple of month detour in my audio book listening, but over Thanksgiving, I decided it was time to return to Michael Connelly’s Mickey Haller series.  The Fifth Witness was the next on the list, and I once again found myself caught up in a courtroom battle.

With the down turn in the economy, Mickey Haller has had to change the focus of his practice.  There just aren’t enough murder cases to pay the bills.  But with the increase in foreclosures, Mickey has found a steady income fighting to keep people from losing their homes, or at least slowing down the process.

His first foreclosure client was Lisa Trammel, a woman who has become so obsessed with the way her bank treated her she has started an organization to lead protests.  She’s become such a nuisance that the bank took out a restraining order against her.  So when the head of the loan department at that bank is murdered outside his car before work one morning, Lisa logically becomes the prime suspect, and Mickey switches back into criminal defense mode.  With a prosecutor who is not willing to share anything, Mickey must work hard to find a way to defend his client.  Can he get her off?  Could she really be innocent?

I must admit, I’m still conflicted about the mortgage crisis of a few years back.  I feel like there was lots of blame to go around, yet the banks and their “predatory” lending got the majority of the blame.  I was afraid that this would be a book that preached at us about the issue the entire time, but I was very wrong.  While obviously it was discussed over the course of the book, the murder case took front and center.

The murder happens very early in the book, so the twists and turns of the case started right away as well.  And there were plenty of twists and turns.  I was surprised by most of them and was left wondering if Mickey would prevail until the very end.  While I have come to enjoy the courtroom maneuvering, at times it can slow things down.  This was especially true at one point where it was just a rehash of stuff we already knew.  Still, the book never slowed down for very long at a time.

Mickey is surrounded by the normal compliment of employees and complicated family relationships.  I liked checking in with them again and see just what has been happening with all of them.  They continue to be strong characters.  The new batch introduced for this story were quite an interesting lot who I loved and loved to hate, sometimes at the same time.  And of course there’s Mickey himself.  He continues to fascinate me with his complex personality and the tugs of his profession and his ties to his ex-wife and daughter.

Speaking of Mickey, this book came out roughly the same time the first book about the character was turned into a movie.  That leads to my favorite line in the book, a joke that made me laugh out loud.

Overall, The Fifth Witness proves to be another entertaining legal mystery from the pen of Michael Connelly.  There is a reason his books are so popular, and if you haven’t read him, fix that today.

More courtroom drama can be found in the rest of the Mickey Haller series.

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