"You're a sleazy defense lawyer with two ex-wifes and an eight-year-old daughter and we all love you."
That's not writing, it's a regurgitating a clich"You're a sleazy defense lawyer with two ex-wifes and an eight-year-old daughter and we all love you."
That's not writing, it's a regurgitating a cliche, and this book is litter with them, like confetti at New Year's Eve. The trouble is that the over use of cliched speeches and actions obscure a page turner, a novel decked out with top flight characters and scenes place it on the top shelf of its genre. Overall, the book is worth reading, but you'll have to fight the cliche gag reflex at least a few times.
Connelly pushes the novel along at a brisk pace, unfurling a solid mystery and introducing of to a goodly number of minor characters, who are well drawn and captivating. Even if the minor characters don't add to the plot, they fill in the details of what life must be like for a criminal defense lawyer who dreams of living the good life but finds himself stuck cutting deals for drug dealers. Those characters have a way of grounding the novel, setting it in seamy L.A., a subculture hopefully far away from most people's lives. In this, etchings from the justice scene in L.A., Connelly gets the details right, largely due to his ability to make the minor characters and their actions reflect the time and place, and more importantly give some depth to the main character. Well done there Connelly, well done.
Telling of Connelly's strength as a writer is his ability to make his leading character, criminal defense attorney Mickey Haller, seem likable even in the face of so many cops pointing out how Haller perverts the loopholes in the system to free clients, most of whom are guilty, guilty, guilty. Of course, Connelly does this by refusing to shine the good light on anyone who draws their salary from the state, the sole exception there being his ex-wife, a prosecutor who plays by the rules and pays for it by losing promotions to lesser qualified colleagues. There's a lesson there and you don't have to look hard to figure out what it is.
Connelly uses the framework of a court room procedural to background his story, a similar to the police procedural formula that's worked well for Ed McBain and his 87th Precinct series. Yes, the story does build up to a big a courtroom trial, and yes Virginia, there are couple nice twists at end that reward the reader for putting up with a phrase or two that's a stale as yesterday's meatloaf.
These more than enough here to mark me down as a Connelly fan, even if he falls into that "nobody understands how important defense lawyers are for the wheels of justice to turn evenly and fairly" claptrap. It's the only thing that drags the book down, but if crime is your genre, don't let this one get away. ...more
He's no Ray Chandler, but who is? In this novella the characters are thinly, but fully sketched. But the characters don't matter, it's plot, the overwHe's no Ray Chandler, but who is? In this novella the characters are thinly, but fully sketched. But the characters don't matter, it's plot, the overwhelming sense of doom. Of course, the main characters' lack lack of a moral rudder is what pushes the story along. For them, there is nothing wrong with murder, as long as it serves your purposes -- and provided you don't get caught. But no one gets away free. Everyone's playing a game. You can't trust criminals. Or anyone in the criminal justice system, can you?
What sets Cain's novel apart from Chandler or even Elmore Leonard is the absence of a likable main character. Let's forget about Chandler's Marlowe for a second. You might invite other characters in his novels over for dinner, though there's no guarantee they'd accept, and for that you'd probably be grateful. Leonard manages to draw criminals who you can root for, even if you know they are headed to the hoosegow in the end, and that's okay, because by the end of the book you realize that the outlaw should have played by the rules. Their character hasn't arc, yours has.
Cain doesn't give us that release. But he does have characters who pick the wrong game to play then play bad hands poorly. They are slaves to the plot and the inevitable, and Cain hands us few extraneous details, pushed horses with blinders lead like lambs. ...more