Michael Connelly cemented his reputation as one of the premier writers of mysteries with his mysteries featuring Det. Hieronymus ( Harry) Bosch of the LAPD. Lately ,however, he has introduced another series character , Micky Haller : the defense lawyer whose office is in the back seat of his limousine.
Generally speaking , any author has only one good series in him but Connelly seems to be an exception to the rule . His Harry Bosch novels are his best efforts but the Mickey Haller novels are not far behind. Haller made his debut in The Lincoln Lawyer and in later books we found that Bosch and he were half-brothers. Because Bosch works for the LAPD and Haller is a defense lawyer , the two have often found themselves on opposite sides. Now Connelly has found a way to bring the two series characters together.
In The Reversal , Michael Connelly , in a feat of legerdemain , has them working together.This happens because Gabriel Williams ,the D.A for Los Angeles county , persuades Haller to be the lead attorney in the re-trial of Jason Jessup. Jessup, a convicted child killer, has been behind bars for twenty-four years but has been granted a new trial based on new DNA evidence. Haller mistrusts the DA’s motives but agrees to take the case because he is promised that his ex-wife , Maggie McPherson, will be assigned to the Major Crimes Squad , a posting that she has long been denied because of office politics.
Right from the start , the re-trial becomes a high stakes struggle .If Haller loses ,a murderer will go free and the state will be liable for millions in damages. Jessup , a young garbage man then , had been convicted of killing 12 year-old Melissa Landry, abducting her from her parents’ front yard as she played hide and seek with her sister, and then tossing her body into a dumpster. Much of the original case rested on the testimony of her 13-year old sister , Sarah. In the years since , Sarah ‘s life spiraled out of control as she became a druggie and then dropped out of sight . To have any chance of re-convicting Jessup, she must be located and persuaded to testify. Harry Bosch , who we meet earlier in the novel transporting the prisoner back to L.A for the trial , is tasked with locating Sarah Landry.
In the courtroom , Haller has to work with his ex-wife Maggie McPherson as his co-prosecutor. It is a mixed blessing. Maggie is a terrific prosecutor but she chafes at working under Mickey Haller , a great defense attorney with zero experience as a prosecutor. Opposing them is Clive ‘ The Barrister Royce” , a street smart publicity hound who knows how to work the press and is not overburdened by scruples. To complicate matters , the DA wants to be an armchair quarterback even as he insulates himself from any negative fallout in case of a Not Guilty verdict .
Using his formidable investigative skills , Bosch succeeds in tracing the sister and persuading her to testify. But will she be able to stand up to cross-examination ? And what is the defendant up to ? Released on his own cognizance , he spends several hours each night breaking into parks , lighting candles and leaving them at selected spots and just sitting and staring into space. A FBI profiler steers Bosch’s investigation in another direction when she opines that Jessup could possibly have murdered before and that his behavior suggests that he is going to do it again. Matters take an even more menacing turn when Jessup ‘s bizarre behavior causes Bosch to fear for his own daughter’s safety.
Meanwhile , the trial is proceeding apace as Haller tries to build an airtight case against Jessup and the unscrupulous defense lawyer tries to discredit Sarah Landry’s testimony. Author Connelly has always been a master of the police procedural ; now he shows himself equally adept at courtroom dramas. The suspense is ratcheted up bit by bit until it culminates in an explosive climax.
Every time I read a Michael Connelly novel , I’m impressed by the depth of his characters and the superlative pacing of the writing . As Harry Bosch begins to unravel the mystery , we are with him every step of the way and privy to his innermost thoughts. The richness of the background detail , Harry’s feelings about L.A and his job , his fears for his daughter’s safety and his determination to bring the killer to justice are so expertly described that the reader almost feels that he in the police car with Harry. The other characters such as Harry’s daughter , Maddy , his colleagues and the people he runs into during his investigations are also believable . The one character I have difficulty with is the other lead character , Mickey Haller, who is less well drawn and therefore less believable . The only other criticism I have of the novel is that the ending is a little spoilt by an unnecessary ambiguity.
However , this is a minor criticism . I was engrossed by The Reversal and finished it in two days flat . Now I’m left to wonder when Michael Connelly will be publishing the next Harry Bosch novel . I hope it is soon.
The Reversal by Michael Connelly . Little , Brown and Co. ( New York 2010) $ 27.99.