Thriller: The Fifth Witness, by Michael Connelly

The Fifth Witness (Mickey Haller, #4)The knowns, the known unknowns, and the unknown unknowns

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

On the surface, Attorney Mickey Haller, brash, cocky, and seemingly amoral, is a hard guy to like. But hey, the position of a defense lawyer is never ethically simple, and once he accepts a client, Haller goes to the mat for her. In this case, the client is the emotionally volatile Lisa Trammel. Mickey has been representing her in a house foreclosure suit, when she’s accused of murdering the banker who held the mortgage. He doesn’t much like Lisa, but he does believe in her innocence, and he turns over every rock in LA in his quest to cast doubt on her culpability. In the process, Mickey discovers that the long tentacles of organized crime have infiltrated the mortgage business.

The Fifth Witness is populated by a spectrum of colorful, well delineated characters, ranging from Haller’s ex-wife (prosecutor Maggie “McFierce”, whom he still loves), to his researcher Dennis, to his client. The bad guys are equally well represented. The first half of the novel concerns the investigation, and the second, a virtual battlefield of a trial. Mickey’s up against a very sharp prosecutor, and he’s in for the fight of his career. In his eyes, his job is to inform himself of “the knowns, the known unknowns, and the unknown unknowns” of each case. During Lisa Trammel’s, although he doesn’t realize it for quite some time, he’s taking a hard look at the cynical “game” he’s required to play each time he defends someone, guilty or not. Beneath the surface, there is definitely active conscience. The trial is full of zigs and zags, but the biggest surprise is held till the end.

Michael Connelly has been authoring the best in legal thrillers and police procedurals for more than a decade, and The Fifth Witness is no exception. Fast paced, exciting, intelligent, and endlessly interesting, the pages practically turn themselves.

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