Connelly combines two of his best creations in this legal novel starring Mickey Haller and Hieronymous Bosch. The story is told in the first person byConnelly combines two of his best creations in this legal novel starring Mickey Haller and Hieronymous Bosch. The story is told in the first person by Haller and third person about Bosch’s investigation. Haller has been hired as an independent prosecutor to retry the case of a man sent to prison for 24 years for the murder of a young girl. His case had been overturned and despite DNA evidence that appears to exonerate him, the D.A.’s office has decided it still has enough evidence to prove Jessup, the alleged killer, was guilty of the murder.
I don’t know why some authors feel it’s necessary for the bad guys to always target a cop’s family member or something similar. It’s just so improbable and unrealistic that I tend to tune out. It’s almost as if they must believe the cops or whomever won’t do their best unless there is personal involvement, which is, of course, nonsense.
If you want a detailed plot summary with lots of spoilers see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Bra.... I enjoyed the story very much, lots of neat trIf you want a detailed plot summary with lots of spoilers see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Bra.... I enjoyed the story very much, lots of neat trial work. The plot was perhaps a bit contrived but no matter. I like Mickey Haller’s character. Harry Bosch also plays a role in the novel and it turns out he has more in common with Haller than one would have expected, both literally and figuratively.
I had no idea what a “brass verdict” but when googled in the urban dictionary it does make sense....more
Andy Carpenter is now married to Laurie and they have adopted Ricky (from the previous book.) An odd theft of a dog from their shelter leads Andy andAndy Carpenter is now married to Laurie and they have adopted Ricky (from the previous book.) An odd theft of a dog from their shelter leads Andy and his crew to a vicious murder and a puzzle. Why would anyone want to steal a particular dog from a shelter when all they had to do was walk in and adopt it? The case gets complicated, of course, and soon involves a dead chemist and blood diamonds, all tied together by Zoe, the shepherd mix.
The book is a delightful mix of humor and mystery not to mention dog-love. Since I like all three and Grover Gardner is a wonderful reader, this book (and the series) are a delight.
An example of the humor is Andy’s self deprecation as he’s trying to assemble a toy parking garage for his son. He begins by listing the many types of evil people in the world, i.e., terrorists, murders, etc. but the worst are toy manufacturers who consistently lie when they produce toys requiring “minimal” assembly and with no written instructions, except in Chinese or French, and have incomprehensible pictures. It’s a very funny scene with him sure the garage is missing at least four crucial parts and when completed looks like a Syrian warehouse that has just suffered a rocket attack.
For those of you who like hints in your mysteries I will drop one: chemical vapor deposition. That holds the key to the solution....more
Audiobook. Perfectly read by Grover Gardner. I read several of the early Andy Carpenter series several years ago, liked them, and then promptly forgot Audiobook. Perfectly read by Grover Gardner. I read several of the early Andy Carpenter series several years ago, liked them, and then promptly forgot about them. I was very pleasantly surprised to see that there have been several new ones published and available on Audible. I bought a bunch.
Andy is asked by his friend in the police department, Capt. Pete Stanton, to foster a bassett hound and a little boy, Ricky Diaz, the son of an informant, who has been killed. Then Pete is charged with the informant’s murder and the evidence against him is overwhelming. Andy, being independently wealthy, takes on the defense of his friend along with his usual sidekicks, Lori, his P.I. girlfriend; Sam, the computer genius and hacker; Hike, the perpetual pessimist; and Marcus, the gentle hulk.
It’s no spoiler to reveal that the case against Pete is so airtight the only way Andy can get Pete off is to find the motive behind what is clearly a frame-up. Nor is it revealing anything that Lori, and soon Andy, are quite taken with Ricky and the hound. Nor that the veterinary medicine research (Rosenfelt is obviously a dog-lover and he and his wife founded a dog rescue) plays a role.
One reads these not for the mystery but rather the characters and Andy’s self-deprecating sense of humor and wise-cracks, not to mention courtroom shenanigans.
For whatever reason, I am not usually a fan of short fiction. This collection of legal-related short fiction is an exception. A nice mix of police proFor whatever reason, I am not usually a fan of short fiction. This collection of legal-related short fiction is an exception. A nice mix of police procedurals, courtroom drama, and legal ethical conundra with interesting twists.
I learned something interesting in a James Grippando story called “Death, Cheated.” A viatical settlement is when someone with a substantial life insurance policy who learns s/he is terminally ill, can sell that policy to another person or group of investors for less than the face value of the policy but more than its cash value. The investors can reap a substantial return on their investment when the principal dies. In the story a woman asks Jack Swyteck to help defend her from a lawsuit of a group of investors. She had been diagnosed with ALS having an anticipated life span of only 2-3 years and sold her life insurance policy for a considerable sum only to discover she had lead poisoning instead which mimics ALS so she wasn’t going to die after all. The ending is somewhat predictable, but a good story. The tables are also turned in “Knife Fight” which has a nice little twist at the end. And “The Flashlight Game” which an engineer father who files constant pro se lawsuits and then gets arrested for murder is fun.
One nice thing about collections of different writers is that new authors are often discovered and so it is here....more
I really liked this book. Some reviewers have complained about the number of characters, but the book is more than a “Dick and Jane” compendium of theI really liked this book. Some reviewers have complained about the number of characters, but the book is more than a “Dick and Jane” compendium of the day’s events. It’s a complicated story that reveals the inner workings of a law firm in addition to being a fine legal drama and mystery. Definitely my cup of lemonade. (I don't like tea.)
A Cinderella Affidavit is one developed by narcotics officers to obtain a search warrant that isn’t exactly kosher. It is based on the cop’s gut feeling about a house or location but may not have a snitch’s information required by a judge. Normally this wouldn’t matter, since the bad guy is caught holding the drugs which are then evidence used at trial, but since Francis Dunleavy, the cop trying to break down the door got killed, the snitch’s presence in court becomes truly important since the affidavit had described, in detail, the person who was supposed to be in the apartment at the time when Dunleavy was killed. Unfortunately the snitch in this case existed, but had made up much of the information.
The opening courtroom seen, taking some depositions, is really quite humorous. It follows the open-ended battering down of a drug dealer’s den where a Dunlevy is shot. Michael Chen is accused of shooting the policeman through the door. His lawyer, Sarah, files an appeal, asking for the name of the informant who the affidavit said had given police the information about when the drugs would be in the apartment. Her client doesn’t match the description given by the informant and calling him could provide exculpatory testimony. The state, naturally doesn’t want to reveal the name of the CI. Turns out the affidavit written by the Lieutenant, a boozer just barely holding it together, had cited this particular snitch (known as IT) in a whole daisy chain of affidavits that threaten to bring down a raft of cases. Danny, the IT in this case, had not been Lieutenant Carvello’s snitch, but rather the dead cop’s and he is linked to the Chinatown mob that makes it imperative he not appear in court for any reason.
Matthew is Danny’s lawyer. It so happens that Danny is IT. What’s interesting about Matthew is that as tenacious as he is in tracking down the perpetrators (I’m trying to avoid some spoilers here) he commits multiple ethical violations and does some really stupid things. Frankly, it’s a wonder his mentor at the firm stood by him as long as he did, not to mention his girlfriend. (An interesting aside is that the author of the book was disciplined for some ethical violations himself in his position -- irony of ironies - as general counsel to the Massachusetts Board of Overseers.)
For me, a good legal drama has to have excellent repartee in the courtroom between the two sides (perhaps that’s why I enjoy listening to Supreme Court oral arguments.) This book has that along with a nice touch of humor. The plot itself becomes a bit strained, but nevermind. It was extremely well narrated by Ron McLarty, one of my favorites. ...more
“I didn’t kill him.” This persistent refrain comes from Hope’s client but on each occasion of her affirmation the surrounding circumstances in her sto“I didn’t kill him.” This persistent refrain comes from Hope’s client but on each occasion of her affirmation the surrounding circumstances in her story change in a Roshomon-like manipulation of the truth.
His client, Lainie Commins, is suing a toy company for violation of copyright, claiming she had come up with the idea of a cross-eyed bear whose eyes were corrected when specially designed toy glasses were put on. When the owner of the toy company is murdered, suspicion falls on Lainie, especially when she doesn’t deny having gone to his yacht that evening and numerous witnesses placed her at the scene around the time of the murder.
Hope is hampered by the absence of his normal detective operatives, Warren and Toots. In a parallel story, Warren has kidnapped Toots, who has become a crack addict, and much against her will, taken her out on a boat, some thirty miles out to sea, where she remains handcuffed to a bracket in Warren’s attempt to get her to kick the drug “cold turkey.”
There are actually three parallel stories going on although not necessarily concurrently: Hope’s experience in the hospital escaping from a coma and his subsequent recovery after being shot; Warren’s efforts to “cold turkey” Toots; and the investigation of the Toyland boss’s murder.
I like the way McBain writes and lays out the story, often in a matter-of-fact manner but vivid manner. His description of the intensity of an addict’s cravings seems so real one wonders if he had some personal knowledge.
Downgraded from 4 stars only because I didn't think the multiple story lines worked that well. ...more
Another in the fine Rachel Gold series featuring the very fat and obscene but extremely bright and loyal Benny. Rachel is hired by Sally to handle herAnother in the fine Rachel Gold series featuring the very fat and obscene but extremely bright and loyal Benny. Rachel is hired by Sally to handle her divorce, something Rachel has sworn not to do. But Sally displays the marks of having been beaten and turns up dead the next day. As her last attorney of record, Rachel is hired to handle the trust and reassign Sally’s clients
I love some of the word play. For example: I gave him a cynical look. “Are you planning to impress her with the size of your epistemology?” “Hey, woman, as Manny Kant once said, it’s not the length of your metaphysics, it’s the quality of your categorical imperatives.” “I love when you philosophy guys talk dirty.”
I won’t say more but to note the title is a pun and gall stones play a role. 3.5 stars, but only because I don’t think it’s quite as good as the preceding titles....more
An innocent man is executed, and a guilty man is set free. Grippando gets things off to a fast start.
Jack Swytek is estranged from his father, now thAn innocent man is executed, and a guilty man is set free. Grippando gets things off to a fast start.
Jack Swytek is estranged from his father, now the governor, who had been elected on a law-and-order platform, promising to expedite executions. Barely two hours before the electrocution of Fernandez, Jack is visited by a man in a ski mask who, insisting on lawyer-client confidentiality, shows him proof that Fernandez is innocent because he, himself, is the killer.
Jack heads for the governor’s mansion where he and his father face off about the impending execution. Insisting he cannot provide proof of the man’s innocence because of client confidentiality (personally, I would have broken it immediately, self-serving lawyer ethics be damned) Jack is unable to convince his father to call it off.
Shift to a few years later as Jack manages to get a killer’s confession thrown out and the jury releases Goss, a vicious killer. Then Goss is killed and the governor and Jack are being setup for his murder. Usually, in a case like this, the premise is undermined by illogical actions of the characters. Grippando has avoided that by making the rationale for why Jack and his father can’t communicate, quite plausible.
The best legal dramas have great courtroom scenes. Unfortunately, the courtroom scenes were but a small portion of the book. The plot is ingenious and tricky, although how the killer manages to be in some of those places had me buffaloed. And I knocked off a star for a ludicrous ending. I had hoped for something much more subtle and intelligent....more
Enjoyable read. I was a bit disconcerted at first by the backstory backflips which seemed to interfere with the progression of the plot. But, you getEnjoyable read. I was a bit disconcerted at first by the backstory backflips which seemed to interfere with the progression of the plot. But, you get used to them, and they fit stylistically after a while.
Three major characters: Micah Grayson, a new associate at Sullivan & Adler, Raphael Bianco, his mentor, a jaded 7th year associate struggling to become partner, and Gabe Weiss, a partner known as Lord Vader, who has just killed his wife’s lover.
Really a riveting story. I’ll read more from this author. One wonders of the character of Micah has more than a few autobiographical elements for the author. He is an attorney from Kentucky who clerked for a judge and then moved to New York to work for a large law firm. The legal profession gets little respect from lawyers who turn to fiction, not to mention non-fiction. It’s truly depressing. ...more
It begins with an innocent enough conversation. Andrew Morrison, lawyer extraordinaire, has been invited on a yacht by Nelson St. James and his beautiIt begins with an innocent enough conversation. Andrew Morrison, lawyer extraordinaire, has been invited on a yacht by Nelson St. James and his beautiful wife for the weekend. A strange thing happens when Danielle, St, James’s wife kisses him and wonders why he doesn’t remember her. It’s only after a visit with an old friend from college, Terry Larson, an ex-prosecutor in Los Angeles, who had been investigating St. James, that Terry tells him Danielle is actually Janine Llewelyn, the little sister of a girl Morrison had wanted to marry, but who had turned down his proposal (much to her later consternation.)
Terry had left the US Attorney’s office in frustration. He had been building a case against St. James. He had evidence that the manipulative billionaire had swindled many people. He was sure St. James was soon to be indicted and urged Morrison not to take his case if asked. Sure enough the indictment is handed up, but St. James disappears on his boat. Then, several months later the boat arrives in San Francisco. St. James is dead, murdered by his wife the cops insist, and Danielle wants Morrison to defend her against the murder charge.
The charges are all based on circumstantial evidence. The body had gone overboard, the gun had the prints of both husband and wife, no one saw the killing, and Morrison did a wonderful job of planting all sorts of doubt in the minds of the jurors. Even the monetary motive disappeared when Morrison got St. James’s attorney to reveal the will had been changed so that if he died his wife would get nothing, whereas if he divorced her, the prenuptial would have left her comfortable indeed. He rests the defense but then Danielle drops a bombshell. She has told Morrison over and over that she had indeed killed her husband and now she insists, against his counsel, she wants to testify. “I know what I’m doing,” she says.
Buffa has written a fine tale that draws you in. Just remember the title is in the plural....more
I found this book in a list of recommended courtroom dramas. It's really good.
Warren Blackburn is trying to rehabilitate his law career after signingI found this book in a list of recommended courtroom dramas. It's really good.
Warren Blackburn is trying to rehabilitate his law career after signing his name to an affidavit that contains information he knows is false. He was trying to help someone get a lighter sentence, believing the man's sob story about needing to stay out of jail to help his kids. Turns out it was bullshit. Warren was lucky to get off with a year's suspension and and probation.
Now having to resort to scrounging up whatever cases the judges will throw at him to defend indigent clients, he stumbles on a capital case, which, on the surface appears to be a prosecutorial wet dream and should plead out quickly. Problem is his client is innocent of the murder of the Vietnamese man who was killed in a fit of road rage. We're given that up front. He’s been seen committing the murder. Of course, we all know about eyewitness testimony: “As for Siva Singh, Warren saw her as a sincere woman who believed in law and order and wanted to help the police. Eyewitnesses were always so sure of what they had seen. Once they had committed themselves to a story, they had a vested interest in keeping to it. Most eyewitnesses don’t have time to tell red from green or short from tall. They make it up later, without realizing it. Everyone seemed to know that except juries.”
And then Warren is offered second chair in a big murder case where the client is most certainly guilty. Under pressure from the judge to settle this slam-dunk-for-the-prosecution case, Warren is soon faced with having to take over the big case when the lead attorney dies of a stroke.
The case involves the murder of her husband by a rich woman suspected of having been involved in several other murders. She's claiming self-defense, that her husband attacked her with a poker so she had to shoot him. But one evening during a practice session for the trial she reveals her hatred for Asians, and Warren happens to see some peculiar damage on the front of her car. Damage that could possibly link his two cases together and put him in a horribly awkward position.
Books that present characters with a real moral dilemma are always more interesting than those that don't. This book has a doozy. The outcome is quite satisfactory....more
Hmmmm. How to describe the first chapter of this book. Rachel has moved to St. Louis where she has started a new firm. Her first client is, well, howHmmmm. How to describe the first chapter of this book. Rachel has moved to St. Louis where she has started a new firm. Her first client is, well, how shall we put this. The case involves a will, an irate wife, fellatio, Big Macs with special sauce, Golden Showers, Visa statements, and the threat of photographs. It’s also very funny.
Although she has sworn never to take another divorce case, Rachel is persuaded by Anne, her sister, to help Eileen Landau. As she soon learns, Eileen is having an affair with Andros, a local fitness instructor, otherwise spelled g.i.g.o.l.o. When Andros turns up dead in a hotel room where he and Eileen were having a tryst and Eileen admits she skipped after watching him in the throes of being poisoned, Rachel knows she has a problem, especially since Eileen took along Andros’s briefcase that contained some rather explicit pictures of the two of them. But it turns out that Rachel’s sister is also in a photo album kept by the dead man and she is charged with his murder.
Rachel’s investigation begins to turn up all sorts of complications. Good mystery. Light on the legal side. Benny continues to amuse and delight. To wit: (pun intended)
“Probably because normal people believe that a bowel movement is a private act,” I said.
Benny clicked off the flashlight and closed his book. “And sex isn’t?”
“Yeah, but sex sells books.”
“I’m not just talking hot-sex junk fiction,” he said. “I’m talking front page of the New York Times Book Review fiction. I’m talking Saul Bellow, Philip Roth, John Updike, Alice Hoffman. You’ve got people shtupping like crazy in those books. Blow jobs, hand jobs, rim jobs—you name it.”
I shrugged. “Maybe the authors think that a sexual encounter is a way to reveal something about a character’s personality.”
He gave me an astounded look. “And taking a dump isn’t?”...more
Excellent story. I am becoming a big fan of Michael Kahn and Rachel Gold. In this second of the series, Rachel is again hired by her old firm to repreExcellent story. I am becoming a big fan of Michael Kahn and Rachel Gold. In this second of the series, Rachel is again hired by her old firm to represent one of their clients since they have a potential conflict of interest. The firm's St. Louis managing partner, Stoddard Anderson, committed suicide, his body having been found in a hotel near the airport following a four day period when he was completely missing.
There is a quirk in Missouri law that prevents an insurance company from not paying out a life insurance claim in case of suicide, but the insurance company need not pay an accidental death rider if the deceased was sane at the time of his death. If he was ruled insane, or not in his right mind, then the death could be ruled accidental so Rachel has the difficult task of deciding for the widow, her client, if Anderson was insane at the time when he slit his wrists. His firm certainly does not want the possibility that their managing partner was insane raised in the press. That might not go well with clients. The insurance policy had a triple indemnity rider in case of accidental death. “If he was insane at the time he committed suicide, then his death would be deemed an accident under Missouri law, and the carrier would have to pay an additional one-point-four million dollars in death benefits.” The case gets even more bizarre when Rachel discovers that Stoddard might have been instrumental in smuggling an ancient Mexican artifact worth millions.
I love Kahn’s cynical view of the law. Here’s his take on insurance law: “There are trial lawyers out there—thousands—who make their living litigating the meaning of terms in insurance policies. One of the mysteries of the law is the way that basic words—words as hard and precise as cut diamonds—become warm saltwater taffy when inserted at critical points in insurance policies. Because millions of dollars can hinge on a court's explication of one of the Four Horsemen of the Insuring Clause—“sudden,” “unexpected,” “occurrence,” and “loss”—entire law firms have been built on the legal fees paid by insurance companies, to say nothing of the cottage industry of legal publishers and law school professors that have been feasting at the insurance trough for years.”
Benny is a great character who adds a nice scatological and humorous touch, and Rachel has a wonderful no-nonsense view of things. The way she handles two guys in a Porsche who hit on her is priceless.
Interestingly, in each of the Rachel Gold books I have read so far, there is a code that Rachel must solve to get to the bottom of the mystery. My only complaint, and it’s a small one, is that there is more mystery than legal drama, but I quibble. Good series. ...more
Rachel is hired by the managing partner of her old firm to find out who or what is "Canaan." At issue is the execution the will of a recently deceasedRachel is hired by the managing partner of her old firm to find out who or what is "Canaan." At issue is the execution the will of a recently deceased (he died in flagrante) partner in the firm who had added a bizarre codicil to his will two years earlier. This addition provided for the maintenance of Canaan's grave, which happened to be in a pet cemetery, yet to the best of everyone's knowledge, he had never owned a pet.
Kahn has woven an intriguing plot related to a book written by someone who had attended Barrett College that purports to relate the story of a lottery in a town that ceased to exist. The story flows well and keeps the pages turning. My only quibble was Paul, Rachel’s erstwhile ex-boyfriend who happens along at a convenient time with a copy of the book (he was a Barrett graduate, also) even though his knowledge of it is explained adequately. I had hoped for a more satisfactory ending that might have involved some legal shenanigans rather than a moray eel. But it's Kahn's first and the legal end becomes more pronounced in later volumes.
Much like another of Kahn’s stories, this one also has a code as its key. It was hard to believe this was the first book by Kahn. Having read a couple out of order, I’m now going to read them all in the proper sequence. In this book, Rachel is still in Chicago, Benny has just been hired to teach, but Ozzie is still a presence. ...more
Having enjoyed Kahn's Trophy Widow, I poked around for some more Kahn books and downloaded this collection of three Rachel Gold stories. Nifty.
The firHaving enjoyed Kahn's Trophy Widow, I poked around for some more Kahn books and downloaded this collection of three Rachel Gold stories. Nifty.
The first involves a clever scheme by a Holocaust survivor, Mendel Sofer, to mimic a Jewish Seder custom involving breaking of the matzah. The larger piece of bread is known as the Afikomen and this piece is hidden. The smaller piece, the Lahma Anya, is also known as the Bread of Affliction. (I have to admit having forgotten all this stuff, but then I've only been to one seder, that of my high school buddy.) After dinner the children search for the hidden Afikomen and the finder gets a reward.
I won't say any more except that Sofer decided to hide an important part of his will. Without that part there was a chance the money would revert to some very distant relatives who, it just so happened, also happened to be Aryan Nation anti-semites. So Rachel has to puzzle out where the rest of the will might have been hidden.
The other two stories are equally compelling. The middle story has a prosaic subject. It’s a lawsuit between a dress designer and a rich matron who first bought and then returned a dress claiming she didn't like it. Words were exchanged and she is now suing for defamation. Rachel’s trick to get her client off was nifty but it also revealed the truth. The third story involves DNA, sperm deposits, a 26-year old wife and her 76 year-old husband, a blood-line trust, and mad relatives. How could you not be compelled to read that?
No murders, car chases, stabbings, airplane crashes or aliens. Just interesting characters and realistic legal stories. I liked them. I’ve bought all of the Rachel Gold books for my Kindle....more