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'The Law of Innocence' review: Attorney defends himself in superb legal thriller

"The Law of Innocence" is the 35th novel

"The Law of Innocence" is the 35th novel by Michael Connelly. Credit: Little, Brown and Company/TNS

THE LAW OF INNOCENCE by Michael Connelly (Little, Brown, 432 pp., $29)

The law of innocence is simple — and complicated — as Michael Connelly shows in his stellar 35th novel "The Law of Innocence," his fifth centered around L.A. defense attorney Mickey Haller. This time, Mickey will defend his most unusual and important client: himself.

Leaving a party after a successful win, Mickey is arrested by a cop, who finds the body of a career con artist in the trunk of the attorney's Lincoln Towncar. Facing a first-degree murder charge, Mickey chooses to defend himself and forego the $5 million bail set by the judge, instead requesting a speedy trial. From his jail cell, Mickey strategizes with his legal defense team, which includes his half brother Harry Bosch, Connelly's usual series character. His team ferrets out evidence and clues as Mickey works on his case, trying to figure out who framed him while constantly worried that he may be a target of other prisoners, or the guards and deputies who know his reputation as an aggressive defense attorney.

"The Law of Innocence" moves at a brisk clip, working as a legal thriller, a police procedural and a character study of Mickey. Connelly invests deeply in his characters, using each novel to explore their psyches. Mickey thought he knew what his clients went through when in jail, awaiting their time in court. Now that he is incarcerated, Mickey realizes how little he knows.

With the story taking place primarily in early 2020, "The Law of Innocence" offers a new challenge to Connelly's affinity for zeroing in on contemporary issues. As Connelly builds tension, he weaves in rumors of a spreading virus; people begin wearing masks and chaos erupts at the supermarket.Intelligently plotted, "The Law of Innocence" again proves Connelly is a master storyteller.

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