Michael Connelly is a popular US crime writer and our book club chose his The Lincoln Lawyer to get started on his books. This book introduces Mickey Haller, who is a defense attorney in LA, who features later in a series of books. In this opening book, Haller takes on the case of Roulet, a young man from a real estate family, who is accused by a woman Regina of aggravated assault when he visited her home.
As Haller gathers evidence to build Roulet’s case, initially it does seem like he’s innocent and is being framed for a monetary shakedown by Regina in the civil courts later. This gives Haller a lot of confidence that he can destroy the prosecution’s case. But soon his principal investigator is murdered when he went sniffing a bit too much into Roulet and his client takes on a darker aura. In the end, not only does he need to win his case, but save himself from a murder setup and still find a way to put his client behind bars.
I do not usually read US crime/legal thrillers, but this one by Connelly was tremendously exciting - the pace and surprises kept coming in all three acts. And as if that by itself isn’t enough - the book pretty much gives the reader a real and gritty introduction to how criminal cases are handled in the US criminal court system. How a suspect is arrested, how he is presented to the court initially, who is prosecution, who is defense, how their lawyers are chosen, how they need to share their information, how the jury is selected and finally how the case is fought - everything in detail. Most books and movies only show the last bit - but this book pretty much gave a first-person view of every step and it is worth reading just for that reason itself. A great introduction to an interesting protagonist, a decent detective thread and a fantastic intro into US courts - I recommend this book.
Not surprising given the subject and the treatment, a Hollywood movie was made of this book starring Matthew McConaughey as Haller. Since I loved the book so much, I checked out the movie immediately after. The movie is a tame affair, looking like a made-for-TV movie, with none of the panache and grit of the novel. Though the casting is perfect, the direction, writing and photography seemed uninspired. Thankfully, Netflix seems to be now creating a TV series based on the book - I’m hoping that will be of a better quality.
PS: In case you are wondering about the title of the book, it is named so because Haller works from the backseat of his Lincoln car.