The Brass Verdict
By Michael Connelly
Large Print Edition Little, Brown and Company, 2008, 656 pages ISBN: 978-0-316-02462-4 Genre: Mystery, Thriller
Reviewed by Israel Drazin - August 18, 2009
Michael Connelly is the author of twenty very interesting books, all but one of which is fiction. This book reintroduces Mickey Haller who was the hero in his 2005 The Lincoln Lawyer. Connelly portrays Mickey as a very likable man who prefers to operate his law office out of his several Lincoln automobiles that are equipped with fax machines, an individual who had made mistakes in the past, but who is now taking hold of an opportunity that is presented to him.
An acquaintance of his, another lawyer, is killed and leaves his practice to Mickey. It is unclear why the lawyer was murdered and Haller fears that the murder is related to one of the cases that he inherited and the murderer may now come to kill him.
If the clients agree, Mickey has first choice in representing them. All of the cases are rather small, except for one. This is a murder case in which a rich movie producer is charged with killing his wife and her lover. This is the kind of case most lawyers yearn for. The client is able and willing to pay an extremely large fee to his lawyer and, since the client is famous, the case will give the lawyer representing him a huge amount of publicity.
The detective Harry Bosch, who appears in most of Connelly's mysteries, also appears in this novel. Mickey and Harry work together to solve the death of the lawyer. However, Mickey is repeatedly faced with a problem. Although he would like to give Harry information – as long as it helps his client and protects him – he is frequently restrained by legal ethics that mandate that he not reveal information given to him by his client.
Connelly's writing style is excellent. The literary critic Edmund Wilson disliked detective stories and mocked "Who cares who killed Roger Ackroyd?" Had Wilson read this book by Connelly, he would not have made this statement. The publisher of this very fine mystery placed on the books cover, "The best mystery writer in the world." While this is an exaggeration, it is not far wrong.
Connelly's novel moves in a straight line. Unlike Lee Child, for example, another excellent writer, whose protagonist first has one understanding of the facts and then after seeing something else, comes to a different conclusion, Mickey generally moves from fact to fact, in a straight line, without change in direction. Even the end of the book, where certain revelations are made, these facts follow logically from what was presented earlier. This should not be understood as a criticism or even a diminution of either book. This is simply a description of this volumes' writing style. Both the Child and the Connelly styles are interesting and the books should be read.
It is not until the end of the book that the reader is told why the novel is called The Brass Verdict. The surprising revelation at the book's end leaves the reader wandering whether the revelation will be explored in future novels. Be this as it may, this book stands alone as a very readable and entertaining mystery.
Dr. Israel Drazin is the author of a series of books on Maimonides, a twelfth century rational philosopher, and the co-author of a series of books on Targum Onkelos, the earliest existing translation of the Hebrew Bible. Both are published by Gefen Publishing House, www.israelbooks.com.