Publisher: Allen & Unwin (Trade Paperback – 10 November 2020)
Series: Mickey Haller – Book six
Length: 421 pages
My Rating: 4.75 out of 5 stars
The master of the modern-day crime fiction novel, Michael Connelly, presents his second release of 2020, The Law of Innocence, which sees the return of one of his most iconic protagonist, the Lincoln Lawyer, Mickey Haller, who is forced to defend his most important client yet: himself.
Defence lawyer Mickey Haller is flying high after a series of high-profile wins in court. However, his life is about to come crashing down around him when he is pulled over by police and the body of a former client is found in the trunk of his Lincoln. Haller is swiftly charged with murder and slapped with an unpayable $5 million bail that forces him to stay in the infamous Twin Towers Jail in downtown Los Angeles.
Determined to prove that he has been framed, Haller chooses to defend himself and starts to construct his case in prison. With the help of his expert team, including his half-brother, Harry Bosch, Haller attempts to discover who is really behind the murder and why he is being targeted. However, the answers and a viable alternate suspect seem elusive, and Haller soon finds himself the target of everyone in the criminal justice system that he has managed to alienate throughout his career.
With the trial quickly approaching and a vengeful prosecutor angling to get Haller the death sentence, the defence will need every trick at their disposal if they are to save Haller’s life. However, this entire case sits at the centre of an elaborate conspiracy, one where anyone who knows anything is at risk. Can Haller survive the case and his dangerous prison sentence, or will this be the last trial for the Lincoln Lawyer?
The Law of Innocence was an impressive and enjoyable book from Michael Connelly, who has once again written a top-notch crime fiction novel. I have really been getting into Connelly’s work over the last couple of years and I have had an exceptional time reading his last three novels, Dark Sacred Night, The Night Fire and Fair Warning. Due to this, and the fact that I really liked its plot synopsis, The Law of Innocence was one of my most anticipated reads for the year, and I have been looking forward to it for a while. This is the sixth novel to feature Mickey Haller as its protagonist and point-of-view character, and the 35th overall novel to be set in Connelly’s overarching crime fiction universe. I had an amazing time reading this book, another fantastic outing from Connelly.
Connelly has come up with an exceptional story for this excellent book, and it is one that I really enjoyed. Indeed, I actually got so caught up in The Law of Innocence’s awesome narrative that I managed to read the entire book in just one day, not even realising that I had stayed up till 3am to finish it off (work the next day was not fun, but staying up was worth it). The story that Connelly utilises in this novel is extremely compelling and intriguing, as it forces the protagonist to not only solve a murder but also prove to the court that he did not commit it. This leads to an intense, emotional and clever story that combines a fantastic murder mystery plot with some excellent legal thriller elements, while also placing the protagonist in significant danger while being held in prison. There were a number of amazing elements to this book, and the story flows at an extremely fast pace whilst following a crafty but likeable protagonist. Connelly makes sure to continue to explore Haller’s personal issues at the same time, featuring the supporting characters and family members from the previous Mickey Haller novels, including an old flame with whom Haller finally gets some closure. The Law of Innocence also featured Connelly’s most iconic protagonist, Harry Bosch, who attempts to help Haller clear his name. While Bosch was a little underutilised, especially considering how much he was featured in some of the pre-publishing advertising, it was great to see him in another book and it was interesting to see more of the relationship between these estranged half-brothers. The Law of Innocence also contains some interesting connections to previous Mickey Haller novels, and fans of this protagonist will be intrigued to see which characters make a return. While I really enjoyed most of the story, I did feel that ending was a little weak. The entire conclusion to the case occurs rather suddenly towards the end of the book and it feels a little forced and simplistic. It also lacked the excitement of the rest of The Law of Innocence, and I would have much preferred something a little more shocking or some major courtroom shenanigans to really round out the book. While this ending was a bit disappointing, I still think that The Law of Innocence’s story was still substantially strong, and I had an exceptional time getting through it.
One of the things that impress me about Connelly’s writing is his ability to create substantially different crime fiction novels based on the protagonist he is featuring. For example, his Renee Ballard and Harry Bosch novels are excellent police procedurals, while his Jack McEvoy books feature clever investigations by a journalist. The Law of Innocence, on the other hand, was written as a legal thriller, due to it being a Mickey Haller novel. This proved to be an interesting change of pace from the previous Connelly novels I have read, but I really enjoyed it, mainly due to the sheer amount of legal detail that the author fits into the novel. Connelly does an amazing job fitting an entire fascinating legal case into this book, going all the way from the arrest to the conclusion of trial. Along the way, The Law of Innocence covers everything from case preparation, pre-trial hearings, bail, jury selections and the main trial, while also containing a lot of descriptions and discussions about the criminal justice system in Los Angeles. Due to the fact the book is told solely from Haller’s point of view, there is a natural focus on the art of defending a client, with a number of the tricks of the trade being featured. I found all of the legal aspects of The Law of Innocence to be extremely fascinating, and Connelly makes sure to explain all of these legal details in a comprehensive and easy to follow way. I loved seeing Haller work his legal magic throughout the book, especially as the reader gets to see into Haller’s mind and find out what he was actually planning and how successful his various gambles actually are. It was also particularly cool to see him forced to deal with the handicap of defending himself whilst being stuck in jail, especially as he was not able to investigate the crime himself or have access to his usual resources. Overall, my first experience of one of Connelly’s legal thrillers turned out to be very enjoyable and I thought that the author wrote an awesome story around it. I look forward to seeing what cool legal cases Connelly comes up with the next time he utilises Haller as a protagonist, and I am sure it will make for another fun read.
Another interesting part of this book that I quite enjoyed was the clever inclusion of COVID-19 into the plot. The plot of The Law of Innocence is set over the course of a couple of months, from late 2019 to March 2020, with the coronavirus slowly becoming more prevalent as the book proceeds. This starts with some throwaway mentions of the virus and Wuhan in the parts of the book set in November, which the reader would initially attribute to a cute mention that was not going to go anywhere. However, as the book progresses, the references to the virus become more and more numerous, until it actually becomes a major part of the plot, with the protagonist suddenly facing the reality of it when his legal team walk into prison wearing face masks. I found it deeply fascinating to see the author utilise the coronavirus in his book and it was rather compelling to see the impacts it had on the central plot, with elements of the court case, such as jury selection, fast-tracked to ensure that the case could be held before everything got shut down. Connelly was actually quite subtle with how he featured the coronavirus in his story, and I felt that the growing levels of concern that the characters show in this book realistically matched what people felt in real life, with excellent depictions of the shift from mild indifference to panic buying. This was honestly one of the first books I have read that mentioned the coronavirus (although I imagine quite a few books next year will have it as a central plot point), and I felt that Connelly handled it extremely well, being an accurate and impactful part of the book, without overly distracting the reader from the central case or overwhelming them with details or experiences everyone is currently extremely familiar with. This excellent inclusion of real-life elements into a great fictional story is one of the reasons I always enjoy Connelly’s writing, and I look forward to seeing how he addresses the coronavirus in some of his future books (for example, how it might impact murder investigations in a Renee Ballard or Harry Bosch novel).
The Law of Innocence by Michael Connelly is another captivating and awesome crime fiction novel that comes highly recommended. Featuring the antics of defence lawyer Mickey Haller, The Law of Innocence is an amazing legal thriller that readers can really sink their teeth into. Fun, exciting and compelling, The Law of Innocence is an excellent novel, and both established fans of Connelly and newcomers to his work will be able to dive into this book extremely easily. I had an amazing time reading The Law of Innocence and I look forward to Connelly’s next exceptional read.