I am amazed at how prolific a writer Michael Connelly is. This is the second novel he has published during 2020, and he had produced at least one book a year for the last twenty years or so. What is more, that productivity is not achieved at the cost of quality; this latest...See more
I am amazed at how prolific a writer Michael Connelly is. This is the second novel he has published during 2020, and he had produced at least one book a year for the last twenty years or so. What is more, that productivity is not achieved at the cost of quality; this latest offering is up to his customary high standard. Connelly is best known for his long series of books featuring Hieronymus ‘Harry’ Bosch. Formerly a long-serving detective in LAPD, and more recently retired, and acting as a private investigator. Connelly went out of his way to ensure that Bosch aged in real time, and while that helped with the books’ sense of authenticity, it meant that he had to make hard decisions about when, and how, Bosch would step down from the police force. Connelly has also written a second, related series of novels featuring Mickey Haller, known as the ‘Lincoln Lawyer’ because for a long time he worked from the back of his chauffeur driven Town Car, rather than from a formal office. However, it gradually emerges that Haller is actually Bosch’s half-brother, and in recent years they have often worked on the same case. It is not a frictionless relationship. For one thing, Bosch’s upbringing was significantly harder than that of Haller, involving care home and intervention by social services. Bosch had also been a cop for almost all his working life, and as such had formed an intrinsic dislike (and distrust) of defence lawyers, whom he dismissed as frequently subverting, rather than upholding, justice. Over the years, however, they have established an accommodation. As the novel opens, we learn that Haller himself is in prison, on remand and awaiting trial for murder after the body of one of his former clients was found in the boot of his car. The case appears fairly strong, and the District Attorney’s Office is pursuing their investigations zealously, feeling extra savour in the thought of perhaps convicting someone who over the years had proved such a thorn in their side. Haller has marshalled his own team, and is working vigorously on his defence from his prison cell, but knows that he is embarking on the most important case of his career. Connelly has a fine style for crime writing. He develops his plots clearly, and the reader invariably finds themselves engrossed in the story virtually from the opening page. His characters, from either side of the law, are highly plausible, as are his plots. He never relies on spurious or contrived coincidences. Connelly began his professional life as a crime reporter, which presumably is where he perfected his sharp prose style. His writing is direct and clear. For the last few years, I have worked in the Civil Service, drafting correspondence for government ministers, and the mantra that my colleagues and I frequently cite is for the ABC of good drafting: accuracy, brevity and clarity. Michael Connelly delivers on all three counts.