THE FIFTH WITNESS by Michael Connelly


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Just in time for his movie debut this spring, Connelly brings back the Lincoln Lawyer for a satisfying case that pits him against a real-estate foreclosure mill.

Lisa Trammel never met Mitchell Bondurant, but the two of them had reason to loathe each other. As senior vice president at WestLand National Bank, Bondurant made the call to foreclose on Trammel’s house after her husband left her and their 9-year-old son and her mortgage went underwater. Nothing daunted, Trammel started a grassroots organization called Foreclosure Litigants Against Greed (FLAG) to fight WestLand and its allies in the media, and hired Mickey Haller (The Reversal, 2010, etc.) to fight WestLand in court. Both the legal battle and the media circus take a dramatic new turn when Bondurant is found bashed to death in a parking garage and a witness places Trammel half a block away within a few minutes of the bashing. Det. Howard Kurlen, LAPD, immediately picks up Trammel, questions her and then arrests her for murder. Digging in her heels, she insists that she didn’t kill Bondurant; she never even met Bondurant; she’s never changed her story one bit; and every bit of forensic evidence against her—and by the end, there’s plenty—can be explained as part of a frame-up. It’s the job of Mickey, his investigator Dennis (“Cisco”) Wojciechowski and his new associate Jennifer (“Bullocks”) Aronson to dig up someone who could plausibly have framed her. As the evidence piles up against Trammel, evidence casting suspicion on Bondurant’s other associates piles up alongside it. Mickey is beaten up by two guys who clearly don’t like the questions he’s been asking. The mountain of paperwork prosecutor Andrea Freeman reluctantly shares with Mickey discloses an unsavory connection that could well point to another killer. And the third-party suspect Mickey zeroes in on obligingly behaves exactly like a guilty party.

“With me, it’s don’t ask, don’t tell,” Mickey tells the starry-eyed Bullock, who wonders why this junkyard dog never asks his client if she’s innocent. Though the answer isn’t as mysterious as you might like, the courtroom scenes—thrust, parry, struggle for every possible advantage—are grueling enough for the most exacting connoisseur of legal intrigue.

Pub Date: April 5th, 2011
ISBN: 978-0-3160-6935-9
Page count: 416pp
Publisher: Little, Brown
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1st, 2011


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