The Brass Verdict is a superb novel. It is Michael Connelly’s nineteenth, displaying all the hallmarks of an author at the peak of his powers. I loved the book. If you’ve never read this author before, you could start with this title (it does not matter that characters in it have appeared in previous books), but you’ll probably then be compelled to seek out the entire back-catalogue.
One of the stars of Connelly’s books is Los Angeles; the town fits Harry Bosch, Mickey Haller and previous characters like a favourite old coat. Even though it is faded and has a few holes in the cloth, it’s the one you always choose to wear. The city is a presence that binds together the casts that enter and exit from the book; a presence that you know will be waiting for the next time.
The Brass Verdict is a good, old-fashioned story of the Raymond Chandler school, relying on plot, character and atmosphere rather than on special effects and gadgetry. Michael (Mickey) Haller is the Lincoln Lawyer who made his debut in the recent book of that title. He’s the son of a (deceased) famous lawyer to the stars, but he hasn’t repeated his father’s success. Instead he operates out of a car (he has three identical Lincolns), driving between courthouses, offices and police stations in the county as he picks up cases from people accused of the full gamut of crimes, from the most petty to the most serious.
As the new book opens, Mickey has been out of action for more than a year, owing to an injury and a subsequent addiction to painkillers. He’s bought sharply back into his law practice, however, when he prematurely inherits a colleague’s case load. It is one of these cases that forms the main plot of The Brass Verdict, though there are other stories weaving through the narrative. One of these features Harry Bosch, Connelly’s most regular character. Bosch is the officer investigating a murder, but we see him only through Mickey’s eyes in this novel, and not the usual Bosch point of view. The uneasy relationship between the two men, on opposite sides of the criminal fence, is one of many enjoyable themes of The Brass Verdict (a title explained at the end of the novel).
Connelly is a superb all-rounder. He’s great on male characters, managing to convey a combination of realism, toughness yet softness that is very appealing (he’s slightly less good at portraying women I think). The background details are, here as always, convincing and fascinating, whether about the intricacies of the legal system and how to play it, journalism, police procedures or what it’s like to be a movie producer. The plotting is excellent. The previous Mickey Haller book, good as it was, was slightly marred by an over-fanciful dénouement. There is none of that problem here; the plot hangs together tightly (the wobble I thought I’d detected in the penultimate chapter isn’t one), with drops and curve-balls in every chapter. The dramatic pace of the book is perfectly pitched throughout; the suspense is maintained by an interlocking series of questions and mysteries; and the writing is sensitive yet lean. Read the book. It’s great.
Michael Connelly’s website, including a list of all his books in chronological and series order.
The Book People are offering 10 of Michael Connelly’s previous books at the incredible price of £9.99. Snap them up!