Thursday, August 14, 2014

The Reversal by Michael Connelly: A review

The Reversal (Mickey Haller, #3)The Reversal by Michael Connelly
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Twenty-four years earlier, Jason Jessup had been convicted of the murder of a young girl. He had always maintained his innocence and had spent all of his years in San Quentin trying to get the conviction overturned. Finally, new and improved DNA forensic procedures cast doubt on the earlier conviction and led an appeals court to finally reverse the conviction.

The LA district attorney, however, is convinced that the earlier verdict, even if flawed, was correct and that Jessup is a murderer. He determines to try him again, but he realizes that he needs someone who is untainted by any association with the old trial to lead the new prosecution. For that role, he reaches out to a man who has never prosecuted anybody, but has always been a thorn in the prosecution's side, criminal defense attorney Mickey Haller.

Haller is at first reluctant to take on the challenge, but he becomes convinced also that Jessup is guilty, and he agrees to accept the task if he is allowed to pick his team and if he can be an independent prosecutor. The DA agrees to his terms and Haller selects his ex-wife Maggie McPherson, who is an assistant district attorney, as his second attorney on the case. He also selects LAPD Detective Harry Bosch, who he has recently discovered is his half-brother, as his investigator. So the prosecution turns into a family affair and since all three have teenage daughters, they feel a special passion for this case.

The retrial becomes a very high-profile event. The media see Jessup as a man wronged and they play up that angle in their stories. Meantime, the defendant is released from custody and the media follow him around on his daily excursions. The LAPD is following him, too. He is under 24-hour surveillance.  

Soon, the man's nighttime activities raise red flags. An FBI profiler tells Bosch that Jessup may have killed not once but many times, and it looks as though he be may planning to do it again. Bosch learns that the man has gone to his own house on one of his nighttime trips and has sat and looked at the house. He becomes concerned that his troubled teenage daughter, who has just lost her mother, may be in danger from a sadistic killer. The investigation becomes a sprint to find incontrovertible proof that will convict him and put him away for good.

Once again, most of the best scenes of the book are in the courtroom where Mickey Haller must learn some new skills if he is to operate effectively as a prosecuting attorney. It goes against the grain, but he must outthink his media-savvy opponent and poke holes in his defense in order to convince the jury that the defendant is a murderer. And he must do that without ever referring to the earlier trial and conviction for that might prejudice the jury. He's very lucky to have Maggie on his team and at his side to keep him on the straight and narrow.

I really enjoy Michael Connelly's writing, both the Bosch police procedurals and the Haller legal thrillers and in The Reversal we get a two-for-one deal, both characters being represented. The chapters dealing with Haller are presented in first-person, but Bosch's activities are always reported in third-person. The narrative is weighted toward the Haller sections, since it is, in fact, the story of a trial. All in all, it is another winner in the Connelly oeuvre.


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