jo's Reviews > The Lincoln Lawyer

The Lincoln Lawyer by Michael Connelly
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Aug 04, 09

bookshelves: mystery-thriller
Read in August, 2009

this is my michael connelly tally so far: i have read two harry bosch and two mickey haller. i barely remember the harry bosch. the mickey haller dug a hole in my mind. this is not how things should be. harry bosch is michael connelly's hero. harry and i, though, do not connect; mickey and i are two peas in a pod. if he were real, i would very much like to be friends with mickey, though i doubt he'd want to be friends with me -- not because he wouldn't like me, but because he's the loner type and doesn't seem to like to hang out, unless it's for work, and i would have nothing to offer him. unless i were a client, which i most definitely would not want to be (it would involve either being a criminal or being someone who's unjustly accused of being one).

the mickey haller legal thrillers read more like hardboiled noir than legal procedurals. even the courtroom scenes are hardboiled. hardboiled feature number one: even though he's exceedingly successful as a criminal defense lawyer, mickey is considered a sleazeball, even by himself. as he tells us repeatedly, the cops don't like him and he has incurred the wrath of judges and of the california bar more than once. we, however, see nothing of this. in the novels, mickey seems ethical to a fault. the air of bad boy lingers constantly around him and we all smell it, even if we don't know where it comes from.

hardboiled feature number two: he defends shady characters and his investigative work is a key part of the action, even though in both books he farms it out to proper investigators. mickey haller may be a lawyer, but for most of the book he plays private eye.

hardboiled feature number three: he's a terrible father and he apparently seriously pissed off his first wife and mother of his daughter, even though, just like in hardboiled feature number one, we have no idea what he could possibly have done to piss her off.

well, we do have some idea. because, hardboiled feature number four, mickey is entirely his own guy: he does what he thinks he should be doing regardless of hours and time and social obligations. like a true hardboiled sociopath, he's solely focused on his work. i suppose that would make him an asshole if you were married to him. he'd be the husband you never see, who stands you up, who comes home at 3 AM but cannot tell you where he was.

also: mickey likes to drink alone. he drinks in bars and only when life is so sucky that you really have to. he drinks a lot of coffee and has breakfasts in cafes and sandwiches in his car. and here's the clincher: mickey doesn't have an office. he spends his workdays in the back of a lincoln driven by one of his deadbeat clients who is paying off a debt by being mickey's driver, or having meetings with clients in prisons, restaurants, bars, and, rarely, homes. never his.

mickey is intensely about the money. his one and only reason to practice the law is to make money. unfortunately, he's remarkably unsuccessful at it because he's, you know, nice. and ethical. and his own man.

i find mickey haller one of the most simpatico characters i have encountered in mystery fiction. i never remember what simpatico means in english but in italian it means charming and fetching and cool. likeable. i like that mickey has all these theories about the law and the practice of the law and the conduct of the lawyer and, of course, life and people in general, but at the end of the day it's also a lot of facade and the guy is always treading the thin path between the "what is right" and the "what i would like to be the case." he's a big teddy bear who likes to talk big and make himself look cool, but he can take it on the chin when things go wrong and turn his failures into jokes (though he knows how to be pathetic, too, and feel sorry for himself). i like that he is so blustery and self-assured and cocky while knowing all along that he's also a big fat loser. i like that being a big fat loser and knowing it doesn't put the slightest dent in his cockiness and self-assuredness. that's the way it should be.
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Comments (showing 1-3 of 3) (3 new)

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message 1: by Jeff (new)

Jeff Nice. I very much appreciated the primer on "hardboiled" detectives. Now I'm going to have to figure out which Connelly novels I've read (and which books I have not) and get out there and get all up in some Mickey Haller (short the hardboiled sociopath, there are elements of the man as you describe him to which I can relate).


message 2: by jo (new) - rated it 5 stars

jo me too. most of all, i think, the sense of having already lost a million times but the enthusiasm i feel before each fight (which i know i'll lose, not because i'm bad, but because it's me). he's a cheerfully sad sonofabitch, just like me. and a loner, just like me. i only wish i were up to drinking as much guiness as he drinks. once i totally was.

here , it's a short list, unfortunately.


Mike                                              Great review!


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