Stranded in an airport waiting for a delayed flight, I instinctively reached for “The Fifth Witness” a Michael Connelly novel, because I knew I would like it as much as his other novels. I was right! I am convinced that Connelly’s easy, yet intricate writing can make any plot interesting. This time, attorney Mickey Haller is defending accused murder Lisa Trammell, who is sabotaging her trial by seeking too much media attention. Lisa is accused of killing a man responsible for foreclosing on her home, who works at an institution Haller is helping her sue for fraud. What Connelly has mastered is layering a plot that is well-timed and on point with the legal procedure. (I sometimes forget he isn’t a lawyer!) Some small detail on page 20 will reappear as a major focusing page 100, and something on page 40 will become important on page 180. This brilliant writing kept me glued to the book.
I found it humorous that there was a reference to Lisa’s life being made into a movie with Mathew McConaughey playing her lawyer. Who wouldn’t want to see the entire Lincoln Lawyer serious turned into movies with McConaughey in the starring role! I especially appreciated how Connelly used the legal system to showcase Haller’s tenacity. For example, when the District Attorney downplays her friendship with Haller’s ex-wife, Haller threatens to file a motion to have her removed from the case, but offers not to file it if the DA will provide him with the discovery she refused to give him a few pages before. This is brilliant lawyering that becomes accessible to all readers through an engaging plot. The courtroom scenes were very accurate, at times a little too accurate and slightly slow.
Overall, the novel was exciting. Connelly’s signature storytelling kept the plot fresh and packed with unexpected twists until the very last page. I look forward to more novels by Connelly.