What’s this? Mickey Haller throwing himself into a pro bono case?
Mickey, the high-flying defense attorney whom readers first met in Michael Connelly’s 2005 novel “The Lincoln Lawyer,” has been pretty much the dictionary definition of a smooth hustler. His nickname comes from his practice of working out of a chauffeured Lincoln, traveling among Los Angeles’ far-flung courthouses so he could pack more cases — and more billable hours — into the day.
Mickey cultivates an image of success, wearing Italian silk suits and treating his staff to pricey dinners at Musso & Frank and the Water Grill. His smiling face is plastered on bus benches all over LA. He’s a brilliant performer in court.
So why is he turning down $100,000 retainers from drug dealers to donate his time to helping a woman charged with killing her husband get out of prison?
As “Resurrection Walk” opens, Mickey has helped to free a wrongly convicted man, a case he was tipped to at the end of Connelly’s 2022 book, “Desert Star.” When Jorge Ochoa is freed, Mickey says, “I felt the hollow I had carried inside for a long time start to close.”
He wants more of what he feels “when the manacles come off and the last metal doors slide open like the gates of heaven, and a man or woman declared innocent walks into the waiting arms of family, resurrected in life and law.”
It’s quite a change in attitude, but “Resurrection Walk” isn’t just about Mickey. As fans know, Haller is the younger half brother of Connelly’s best-loved character, Harry Bosch.
The two characters have made appearances in each other’s books before, but “Resurrection Walk” comes closest to being a true duet, not just in terms of the two being almost equal players in the story but because it focuses on the changing relationship between the brothers.
Connelly is, as always, a master of the legal thriller and the mystery story, both solidly based in meticulous research. But what makes his books soar is characters we want to come back to, and in “Resurrection Walk,” even after writing 24 books about Bosch and six about Haller (not to mention three streaming TV series), he’s still got something fresh and moving to say about them.
Inspired (and encouraged by his daughter, Hayley), Mickey has started his own “in-house Innocence Project.” As word of the Ochoa case spreads, other prisoners ask for Mickey’s help, and he hires Harry to review their cases and determine whether they might really be innocent.
Although they’ve worked together before, Bosch has always been unhappy about it — as a retired homicide detective, he sees defense lawyers as his natural enemy.
But this project quiets that objection, because from Bosch’s point of view, if the wrong person was convicted, that means the real criminal is still out there and needs to be caught.
There’s another reason he takes the job. Mickey can provide him with generous health insurance, and Bosch needs it. Thanks to a long-ago encounter with radioactive material in “The Overlook” (2007), he has cancer, and his best hope is an experimental and very expensive treatment.
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Bosch rejects most of the cases he reviews, but one strikes him as a possibility. Lucinda Sanz is midway through an eight-year sentence after she pleaded no contest to manslaughter in the shooting death of her ex-husband after a dispute over child custody.
Lucinda has always insisted she didn’t do it. But her ex, Roberto, was a sheriff’s deputy, and the weight of law enforcement dropped on her like a ton of bricks. A sketchy attorney persuaded her to accept a no contest plea in the interest of getting out before her young son grows up.
But as Bosch, that bulldog researcher, looks through the case files, he sees the evidence doesn’t add up. And photos from the autopsy of Roberto Sanz reveal something that turns the case in another direction.
Bosch and Haller travel together to talk with Lucinda in prison and come away ready to work for her. As Mickey says, “I sensed that she might be that rarest of all creatures, an innocent client.”
But it won’t be easy. Mickey will get blindsided in the courtroom more than once, and Bosch, that longtime tough guy, will become ever more acutely aware of his physical limitations.
When someone breaks into his house, he assumes it’s intimidation because they don’t steal anything. When he reports it, a cop asks whether there was really a break-in, or did Harry just accidentally leave the door open?
The former Bosch would have snarled at him. This Bosch, at 73, wonders whether the cop might be right.
But Bosch is definitely on his game on the job — so much so that Mickey’s appreciation of his skills and his integrity deepens. The pair spend much of the book together in Mickey’s Lincoln Navigator. Bosch drives, but he insists Haller ride in the front seat, because he “would not play chauffeur to a defense lawyer.”
But his opinion of Mickey changes as well. As they battle through a case that grows increasingly dangerous, Bosch stops worrying and lets Mickey ride in the back. Bosch is still at the wheel.
By Michael Connelly
Little, Brown, 405 pages, $30