I’m a fan of Michael Connelly’s Harry Bosch novels, though I was a latecomer to the series. And I absolutely adore Detective Renee Ballard. I also gave a rare 4.5 stars to the third in the (journalist) Jack McEvoy series earlier this year.
I just commented in another review that I like the way Connelly crosses characters over and has them appear, a little or lot, in other series.
The Law of Innocence is a Mickey Haller (aka Lincoln Lawyer) novel. And it wasn’t until I read this I realised I’ve only read one other in this series. Haller’s featured in other books I’ve read—briefly—but it occurred to me when reading this… I don’t actually like him all that much. And I wonder if Connelly intends for us to find him a tad disagreeable and socially-challenged, or if I’m alone in my antipathy. Or perhaps, because Haller’s own freedom is on the line here, he’s more self-absorbed and indignant than usual?
The Law of Innocence
by Michael Connelly
Series: Mickey Haller #6, Harry Bosch #34
Published by Allen & Unwin AU
Source: Allen & Unwin
Genres: Crime Fiction, Legal Procedural
Defense attorney Mickey Haller is pulled over by police, who find the body of a client in the trunk of his Lincoln. Haller is charged with murder and can't make the exorbitant $5 million bail slapped on him by a vindictive judge.
Mickey elects to defend himself and must strategize and build his defense from his jail cell in the Twin Towers Correctional Center in downtown Los Angeles, all the while looking over his shoulder - as an officer of the court he is an instant target.
Mickey knows he's been framed. Now, with the help of his trusted team, he has to figure out who has plotted to destroy his life and why. Then he has to go before a judge and jury and prove his innocence.
Bosch features minimally here and I wondered if it was a sense of loyalty to him and Haller’s lack of appreciation for what Bosch was doing that I found confronting – in terms of Haller’s ‘character’. He seemed to take his team for granted and was pretty flighty and selfish with his feelings in general.
Despite my newfound coolness towards Haller, we’re offered an interesting case. We’re in his head so know he’s innocent. Haller has to ask who would want to frame him and why? And was his former client and con-man Sam Scales a specific target of the killer or just a tool to use against Haller. The latter seems too coincidental which means Haller has his team have to dig deeper for possible connections between his many enemies.
Underpinning this novel is the concept of being found not-guilty vs being innocent. Haller / Connelly explain:
Innocence is not a legal term. No one is ever found innocent in a court of law. No one is ever exonerated by the verdict of a jury. The justice system can only deliver a verdict of guilty or not guilty. Nothing else, nothing more.
The law of innocence is unwritten….
In the law of innocence, for every man not guilty of a crime, there is a man out there who is. And to prove true innocence, the guilty man must be found and exposed to the world. p 105
And later, it’s something Haller struggles with – people believing you’re innocent or thinking you might have gotten away with something even if found not guilty. (And perhaps this is Haller’s own work coming back to bite him on the butt…. getting defendants ‘off’ when he knows or suspects they are in fact, guilty.)
The courtroom scenes here are certainly the highlight and Connelly (through Haller and his team) spring a few surprises on both us and the prosecution.
I was probably a little disappointed by the conclusion. Connelly seemed to wrap everything up pretty quickly and I felt slightly duped having spent so much time invested in the lead-up to the trial. He does set up things nicely for more in the series however.
Interestingly COVID-19 rears its ugly head here and as Haller’s story finishes in February 2020, it’s arrived on US shores. (And we know – in hindsight – what comes next for the US!)
The Law of Innocence by Michael Connelly will be published in Australia by Allen & Unwin and available from 9 November 2020.
I received a copy of this book from the publisher for review purposes.