THE LAW OF INNOCENCE by Michael Connelly

November 10, 2020

The Lincoln Lawyer is back! No worries, Harry Bosch makes a few appearances as well, but this is Mickey Haller’s story. And it is personal.

Haller is pulled over by a cop for a missing rear license plate. When the cop approaches, he sees what looks like blood dripping from the trunk of the car. He puts Haller in the back of his squad car and opens the trunk to find a dead man dripping blood from gunshot wounds.

Haller is arrested and bail set for $5 million so he remains in prison, separated from the other prisoners. He decides to defend himself and his partner, ex-wives/girlfriend, private investigator Cisco, and Harry Bosch step up to help. His daughter, Maddie, is also around. Now a law student, she takes some time off to learn from her dad, and of course to support him.

Haller knows he’s been framed but the evidence is all pointing his way and he has no idea who would have done it. Luckily, he is shrewd and smart and fighting for his life, with a team equally committed to securing his freedom. He wants the “NG”, not guilty verdict but more than that, he wants to be proved innocent. Interestingly, there is no law of innocence, but Haller knows finding the actual murderer will go a long way towards proving his innocence.

The ins and outs of a murder case are illustrated in the most interesting way as we are invested in Haller’s innocence. He has a formidable opponent in the D.A. but feels a kinship for the judge, a former defense attorney. Lots of legal action here and with the twists and turns of the case, the pages fly by.

This was a one night read for me as I couldn’t stop turning the pages. Connelly keeps getting better, and I didn’t really think that was possible. If you haven’t read him, you can easily start here. Don’t miss it.

NOTE: This is the first book I’ve read that has touched on the pandemic. It is set in the fall of 2019 through the end of February 2020, just as we were starting to understand that the coronavirus was going to be a major problem. I wouldn’t call it a plotline, but rather it lurks insidiously in the background, just as it did while we were living it. I’m mentioning it because I believe it means Connelly went back to his manuscript to update it. Most books are turned in about a year prior to publication, which would put the finished manuscript submitted to the publisher in late 2019. Kudos to Connelly and Little, Brown for being flexible enough to make these changes. I really think it added to the tension, probably more for the reader than the characters. It was incredibly well done.

11/2020 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch

From Paul Lane:

This novel featuring “Lincoln Lawyer” Mickey Haller is the prolific Michael Connelly’s 31st published book. Similarly, to his previous works, it incorporates his gifted sense of plot, and his ability to frame events in a manner that keeps his readers glued to the pages unable to put the book down until finished.

Mickey has just successfully concluded a trial and has joined his staff and friends in a celebration of the win at a local club. He pays the tab and leaves by himself to drive home. On the trip home (in one of his three Lincolns of course) he is stopped by a police officer who checks his documents and then gets him to open the trunk of the car. In a totally unexpected occurrence, a body is found in the trunk; a man that has been shot to death. The police begin an investigation and proceed in charging Mickey with murder.

The main part of the novel is devoted to the trial and Mickey’s defense. For a good part of the time, he is incarcerated when he is not in court and has to work with his associates with the disadvantage of not being able to meet during the evening or weekends.

The machinations of the prosecution working to convict Mickey are well documented as are the defense rebuttals and strategy. Connelly brings out the psychology of a trial, the attempts to color any evidence based on who is presenting it, and on the other side who is in opposition to it. Mickey has elected to use his right to demand a speedy trial. He knows that he not only must convince a jury to exonerate him but even more important has to get a clear not-guilty verdict to forever remove any cloud accruing to him and clear his reputation as a defense attorney in order to continue trying cases.

As in any real-life situation, the court action is always accompanied by personal events occurring outside of the trial. In Mickey’s case his daughter, a law student, comes to court to cheer her father on. His partner in his law firm experiences her father passing away and must leave to attend his funeral. One of his two ex-wives arrives to help out in the trial by taking over for his partner and Mickey finds that he still is in love with her.
Engrossing, yes, an all-nighter, of course. The only question is how soon can we have the pleasure of getting Connelly’s next book.

THE LAW OF INNOCENCE by Michael Connelly. Little, Brown and Company (November 10, 2020). ISBN 978-0316485623. 432 pages.



THE BEST FRIEND by Adam Mitzner

April 16, 2020


Broden Legal  Series, Book 3

From the publisher:

From the author of Dead Certain comes a twisting novel of friendship, love, and marriage—and all their cunning and deadly betrayals.

Back in 1986, Clint Broden was a novice New York defense attorney building a family with his wife, Anne, and impatient for his career to take off. That’s when his defense of his closest friend, Nick Zamora, made headlines. In spite of his lingering suspicions that his soul mate since childhood had a secret, Clint was dedicated to believing Nick hadn’t murdered his new bride.

Three decades later, Clint is now the celebrated go-to attorney for the rich and famous. Nick is a lauded literary superstar living his dreams in Los Angeles. Though separated by thirty years and three thousand miles, they’re still bound by one thing—the trial that tested the limits of their friendship.

After all these years, the last thing Clint expects is to be pulled back into Nick’s disruptive life. But this time, his motives for getting involved might be different from proving his old friend’s innocence. It could be Clint’s last chance to force a reckoning with the sins of the past.

It is very gratifying to read and enjoy an almost perfect book, and I have just finished Adam Mitzner’s latest novel, which fits the bill. The format is first-person dialogue by each of the four protagonists involved in the story. These dialogues are not different interpretations of the same situations but descriptions of a separate part of the novel that complete a brilliant whole.

Clint Broden is a novice defense attorney in 1986 starting out trying to build a practice. His lifelong best friend, Nick Zamora, on his part is attempting to start off a career as an author with the normal problems of getting noticed and producing interesting literature that will sell. Both are married with wives they seem compatible with.

A sudden crisis develops when Nick’s wife seemingly drowns in her bathtub. The feeling, especially by the police investigating the death, is that how is it possible for someone to drown in what is really a shallow basin of water. Nick is eventually accused of murder, brought to trial with Clint acting as his defense attorney.

Adam Mitzner is actually a practicing attorney and his description of the trial and the back and forth actions of both the prosecution and the defense has the sensation of really being how it would play out. There are no brilliant flashes on the part of any of the participants but rather the gradual and logical proceeding to the end of the trial. Nick is found not guilty and the cause of his wife’s death, if it is murder, is not discovered.

The novel then flashes forward 30 years at a point that Clint is now at the apex of his career with a great practice under his control and Nick a very successful author with several bestsellers under his belt. A second crisis erupts at this point in the lives of the two men that results in an ending that is in every way perfect for the novel.

That this is a novel that will keep the reader glued to the pages until the end goes without saying. And while the books I have read by Mitzner are generally five stars, this one is that step beyond that is not found in many novels and demands that the reader keep a careful eye out for the author’s succeeding work.

4/2020 Paul Lane

THE BEST FRIEND by Adam Mitzner. Thomas & Mercer (April 14, 2020). ISBN: 978-1542005753. 319p.


NOTE: This book is published by an Amazon imprint. Amazon refuses to sell their ebooks to libraries.


A CRIMINAL JUSTICE by William L Myers, Jr.

March 23, 2020


Philadelphia Legal series

From the publisher:

A man in prison for murder. One woman wants him freed. One woman wants him dead.

Mick McFarland is stunned when he’s arrested for murdering business tycoon Edwin Hanson, brother to David Hanson—one of Mick’s former clients. Mick is even more shocked when he’s confronted with the incriminating evidence: surveillance footage of him stalking the victim and pulling the trigger.

As Mick’s legal team fights against windmills trying to beat the prosecution in court, his wife, Piper, journeys across the country, trying to win her husband’s freedom by going after the man she is convinced is out to destroy Mick and David both. What she doesn’t anticipate is that David’s wife, Marcie, is on a similar mission to shelter her own husband. And the two women may not be on the same side.

Piper has it all right…and all wrong. And her time is running out. Will she be able to save her husband from conviction and clear his name?

William Myers sets up a well done and complete novel touching upon the jury trial of a man facing murder charges, the love of his family, the loyalty of an individual’s coworkers and a fascinating look at the incredible future of computers and computing.

Mick McFarland is an attorney just coming off an important case when he is arrested for murder. Astonished, he is faced with actual video of him walking in front of an individual and then clearly walking back and shooting that man to death. The proof of the crime seems irrefutable; it is shown in a video taken by surveillance cameras with dated impression data and no question of the time is that of the murder.

Going to trial Mick is represented by another lawyer from his own firm. But the evidence brought by the District Attorney filing the case against Mick just continues to pile up with no way open to contest the adverse testimony.

Mick’s wife Piper finally must take it upon herself to go after the party that may have committed the murder and placed the blame on her husband. The final section of the novel is a must-read and involves an explanation of what looks like the future of computing. Some of the technique coming out in the book is available in applications in today’s digital world and the author describes an end product currently available in some areas which are well on their way to making our world a much different place than we think.

A mesmerizing novel that will grab the reader’s attention and open doors that are unheard of by most people. The book is beyond being an all-nighter and could very well be the first written description of a wonderful, but perhaps frightening world opening now.

3/2020 Paul Lane

A CRIMINAL JUSTICE by William L Myers, Jr. Thomas & Mercer (March 17, 2020). ISBN: 978-1542005531. 395p.



THE BIG LIE by James Grippando

February 25, 2020


 Jack Swyteck Novel, Book 16

From the publisher:

As the Electoral College battle for the White House lands in a Florida courtroom, Miami attorney Jack Swyteck has never felt farther from the truth, fighting for a “faithless elector,” caught between a corrupt president and his manipulative opponent—with each revelation more explosive than the next.

The country is reeling. For the sixth time in American history, the winner of the popular vote will not occupy the Oval Office. President Malcolm MacLeod, the Machiavellian incumbent, was spared from impeachment only because his political foes were certain they would oust him at the ballot box. Now, he appears to have secured a second term, thanks to a narrow victory in the Electoral College.

His opponent, Florida Senator Evan Stahl, saw his campaign rocked by allegations of an extramarital affair—with another man. Despite the salacious headline-making scandal and the surrounding media frenzy, most Americans chose Stahl to lead the politically polarized nation. But Stahl is refusing to concede. Backed by millions of supporters, he looks to individual members of the Electoral College to cross party lines.

Gun lobbyist Charlotte Holmes is one of Florida’s twenty-nine electors who is bound by law and by oath to cast her vote for MacLeod, who won Florida by the thinnest of margins. When Charlotte announces that she intends to vote her conscience and throw the Electoral College to Stahl, the president and his Florida machine haul her into court on felony charges—which, for some, isn’t nearly punishment enough.

Miami attorney Jack Swyteck is going to use every legal maneuver he can to keep his new client free—and alive. MacLeod’s hand-picked prosecutor is determined to prove Charlotte is unfit to cast a vote. Dredging through her past, he’s looking for skeletons to humiliate and discredit her, while others with far deadlier intentions have begun acting on their threats.

As the pressure mounts, Charlotte and Jack must decide how far they’ll go to stand their ground in the stand-your-ground state.

In James Grippando’s latest novel featuring attorney Jack Swyteck, he touches upon present 2019 conditions in the United States. There is a division in the country, with one party maintaining that the current president did not win the election that put him in office. The opposing party did win the majority of the popular vote but lost when the electoral college result put the current president into office.

Grippando explains that the electoral college was put into place by the U.S. founding fathers as a means of assuring that large population centers would not be able to crush the wishes of other areas of the country. The current U.S. system has the electors in each state asked to vote for the candidate that gained the most votes in that state. In that system, it becomes possible for one candidate to gain more of the popular vote but lose when electors in less populous areas vote for the majority candidate and have the same effect as the electors in the other more populated area with the overall election decided by the overall majority of electoral votes. The author makes the point that it is possible that one of the electors may decide to vote his or her conscience even if it doesn’t coincide with the constraint to vote for the winner of the majority vote in that state.

The novel is about an elector deciding to vote her conscience and not for the candidate that the state majority dictated. Charlotte Holmes is one of the 29 appointed electors in the state of Florida and during the presidential election has decided not to follow custom. That would have placed her vote for the opposition candidate and not for the president who did win the majority of the state’s popular votes.

The book places two scandalous candidates in juxtaposition but the president has been elected by a narrow margin. There are underlying facts and interests in play making the outcome of Charlotte’s choice important beyond the one electoral vote lost, and we have another mesmerizing novel by James Grippando guaranteed to keep his readers up and reading until it is finished. The author attempts to keep his personal views out of the plot but this is not 100% accomplished. Any personal bias encountered will certainly not have any effect on the enjoyment of the book. Chalk up another five-star encounter with Jack Swyteck and his defense of Charlotte Holmes and her decision not to follow normal elector procedure.

2/2020 Paul Lane

THE BIG LIE by James Grippando. Harper (February 25, 2020). ISBN: 978-0062915047. 368p.



THE HOLDOUT by Graham Moore

February 19, 2020


From the publisher:

One juror changed the verdict. What if she was wrong? From the Academy Award–winning screenwriter of The Imitation Game and bestselling author of The Last Days of Night. . . .

“Exhilarating . . . a fiendishly slippery game of cat-and-mouse suspense and a provocative, urgent inquiry into American justice (and injustice) in the twenty-first century.”—A. J. Finn, #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Woman in the Window

It’s the most sensational case of the decade. Fifteen-year-old Jessica Silver, heiress to a billion-dollar real estate fortune, vanishes on her way home from school, and her teacher, Bobby Nock, a twenty-five-year-old African American man, is the prime suspect. The subsequent trial taps straight into America’s most pressing preoccupations: race, class, sex, law enforcement, and the lurid sins of the rich and famous. It’s an open-and-shut case for the prosecution, and a quick conviction seems all but guaranteed—until Maya Seale, a young woman on the jury, convinced of Nock’s innocence, persuades the rest of the jurors to return the verdict of not guilty, a controversial decision that will change all their lives forever.

Flash forward ten years. A true-crime docuseries reassembles the jury, with particular focus on Maya, now a defense attorney herself. When one of the jurors is found dead in Maya’s hotel room, all evidence points to her as the killer. Now, she must prove her own innocence—by getting to the bottom of a case that is far from closed.

As the present-day murder investigation weaves together with the story of what really happened during their deliberation, told by each of the jurors in turn, the secrets they have all been keeping threaten to come out—with drastic consequences for all involved.

Maya Seale is a rapidly rising attorney working for a top legal firm. We meet her as she concludes a case that involves proving that a killing by her client was, in reality, Justifiable Homicide. Her actions sum up her attitude towards the law. She evolved her leanings after serving as a juror on a murder trial ten years before the beginning of the novel. At that time an African American substitute teacher was accused of killing Jessica Silver, a girl in his class with whom he had been having an affair. The case was brought to trial with public opinion heavily on the side of convicting Bobby Nock, the man in question. When the trial concluded and the jury began its deliberations, eleven of the twelve voted quickly to find Bobby guilty. It was Maya that fought to acquit the accused and eventually convinced the others to change their votes. While serving on the jury Maya had had an affair with one of her fellow jurors. An affair that looked like it was leading to marriage but ended when the two disagreed on the outcome.

Fast forward ten years when one of the jurors on the Bobby Nock case sent notes around suggesting a 10-year reunion. The case had been so dominant in the country and the jurors’ lives that the idea of a reunion found all in agreement. On the first day at the meeting hotel, Maya got together with her lover from the jury that she hadn’t seen in 10 years. They met in her room, but Maya needed a break from the raw emotion involved in seeing him again and went outside walking around for a while. When she returned she found that the man had been killed by a blunt force blow to his head. Maya is suspected of the murder while the ensuing events open up vivid memories of the Nock trial and the fact that no killer had ever been caught.

The plot, the writing, and the descriptions flow onto the pages of the book dragging the reader into an extraordinarily vivid story. Moore’s views are apparent, issuing from the talks of the participants in the novel. His views are that simply put, the present American justice system is flawed; both stacked against the poor and favoring the rich. The opinion is there, but beyond that is an exceptionally well done novel that will certainly draw all to looking for Graham Moore’s future writings.

2/2020 Paul Lane

THE HOLDOUT by Graham Moore. Random House (February 18, 2020). ISBN: 978-0399591778. 336p.



THE HALLOWS by Victor Methos

July 20, 2019

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An absolutely grabbing novel that will not allow the reader to put it down until finished. The book deals with a high powered and very successful lawyer practicing in Miami that suddenly finds himself dissatisfied with his work when a client that he had successfully defended on a charge of murder walks out and immediately kills someone else.

Tatum Graham the lawyer just decides to give up the big bucks in Miami and go home to small town Utah where his roots are. Arriving there he meets an old flame of his who is working at the county attorney’s office and asks him as a favor to take on the role of a prosecutor in a murder case. Tatum knows the people involved and most importantly the girl killed and her father who is a friend of his father. In addition he visits his father with whom he has been estranged from for many years and who isnow suffering from cancer.

To round out a fascinating group of characters one of the two boys accused of the murder comes from a wealthy family and his father hires a top tier attorney to defend him. Not surprisingly Tatum has gone against that lawyer several times in court and the trial shapes up as a battle between titans. The depiction of the trial is just that; one expert attorney versus another as gifted as he is. The maneuvers between the two become a fascinating study of the reality of a trial where one man and than the other come out with twists and turns.

On the side is the rekindling of the romance between Tatum and his old girlfriend and the feelings each has harbored for many years. A very well done portrait of Tatum’s dad who is fighting his disease and trying to explain his attitude towards the son that he has kept at bay for a long time. This is one of the better handlings of a flawed individual and the treatment of the man adds to the story and what transpires. A very well done novel and without doubt a five star story.

7/19 Paul Lane

THE HALLOWS by Victor Methos. Thomas & Mercer (July 1, 2019). ISBN 978-1542042741. 350p.



THE RECKONING by John Grisham

October 25, 2018

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The novel opens with Pete Banning going over to the Methodist Church he and his family attended and shooting and killing his friend the Reverend Dexter Bell. We immediately know what happened and basically what Grisham’s novel revolves around;  it says so on the book’s flap as well as on any description written about it. 

The why becomes a fascinating study in human relations and what factors can cause one man to kill another. The book is centered in a small town in the state of Mississippi just shortly after the end of World War II. Pete Banning has returned home a decorated hero, wanting only to resume his life with his beautiful wife and two children.  His is important enough to the story for Grisham to detail the facts behind his bravery. 

This is a well researched look at the events unfolding in the Philippinesat the time of the Bataan death march. A portrait of the horrid conditions in the internment camp in which Pete is held coupled with his heroic actions later in fighting the Japanese upon his escape is extremely well done. His character is molded by this phase of his life and may supply clues to his motivation in committing murder.

Pete’s children, his wife and his sister are effected by his actions. They are completely surprised at his lack of interest in defending himself at the trial convened to try him for murder. 

The novel is John Grisham at his peak exercising a literary talent second to none.  When is the next book coming out is the only question remaining for the reader and I second that opinion. 

10/18 Paul Lane

THE RECKONING by John Grisham. Doubleday (October 23, 2018).  ISBN 978-0385544153. 432p.



THE OUTSIDER by Anthony Franze

March 29, 2017

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Anthony Franze debut novel, The Advocate’s Daughter, was so good that it made my best books of 2016 list. I always worry about the so-called “sophomore slump” – writers generally have years to work on their first novel and a much, much tighter timeline for the second. I’m happy to report that The Outsider is a terrific legal thriller as well. And with the Supreme Court in the news, it’s also timely.

Franze is an attorney who has argued before the Supreme Court, and that’s where he sets his thrillers. He offers a wonderful backstage tour of our highest court, complete with notes at the end so you know what is true and what is made up. Plus his stories are riveting, as is the case here.

The “outsider” is Grayson Hernandez, a young man who graduated from a non-Ivy League law school and is working as a messenger in the Supreme Court building. Hernandez grew up in a poor part of D.C., and his best friends really related with S.E. Hinton’s Outsider. In fact, Hernandez’s nickname was Pony Boy.

The day he stumbles onto an assault against the Chief Justice in the parking lot changes his life – in more ways than is at first obvious. Hernandez saves the Chief Justice but the attacker escapes. Shaken, the Chief Justice decides to offer Hernandez a clerkship, the most sought after position for law school graduates.

Most, if not all, the clerks are from top tier law schools, the brightest of the brightest. Hernandez is bright, but had to stay home to help run his family business so those opportunities didn’t come his way. And then the Justice offers him some perks along with the job; his apartment in Georgetown, which comes with a new Audi. Hernandez is overwhelmed but the justice convinces him to accept the offer.

Hernandez loves his new job, discussing law with these brilliant scholars and the smartest one of all, the beautiful Lauren Hart. He has a hard time fitting in, of course, but the Justice offers advice from time to time and eventually he finds his place.

Meanwhile, it appears a serial killer is at work in the D.C. area, and the murder sites all have one thing in common; a feather quill pen, a gift that the justices present to all attorneys who come before them, is found at all the crime scenes. Hernandez is approached by the FBI to help, and he quickly gets in over his head.

There are enough plot twists to keep the pages turning and the suspense just keeps ratcheting up until the final denouement. If you’re a fan of legal thrillers, or just fast paced adrenaline reads, you won’t want to miss this one.

3/17 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch™

THE OUTSIDER by Anthony Franze. Minotaur Books (March 21, 2017). ISBN 978-1250071668. 320p.


DAMAGED by Lisa Scottoline

September 5, 2016

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A Rosato & DiNunzio Novel, Book 4

This is the fourth entry into the rebranded Rosata & DiNunzio series, and the story focuses on Mary DiNunzio.

Her wedding to Anthony is just weeks away when a heartbreaking case drops into her lap. A janitor is suing Patrick O’Brien, a ten-year-old boy who is small for his age, severely dyslexic, and suffering from anxiety disorder. His grandfather, his guardian, hires Mary to put on his defense.

Opposing counsel is the reviled Nick Machiavelli, who is trying his damnedest to live up to his namesake. The boy is accused of coming after the janitor with scissors, but it quickly becomes apparent that the janitor has abused the boy.

When his grandfather dies of an insulin overdose, Patrick is the prime suspect. Mary wants to foster the boy but Anthony is in California, and neither of them is consulting the other about major life changes, which does not bode well for the couple.

Scottoline seems to be merging her family driven standalones with her legal series, and doing a fine job of it. She continues to be one of my go-to authors, I just love all her books.

Copyright ©2016 Booklist, a division of the American Library Association.

9/16 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch™

DAMAGED by Lisa Scottoline. St. Martin’s Press; First Edition edition (August 16, 2016).  ISBN 978-1250099624. 416p.


NOBLE CHASE by Michael Rudolph

April 19, 2016


Beth Swahn has won her first big settlement for her client, Sloane, to the tune of over a hundred-million-dollars. But when Sloane’s boss, C.J. Leung, flies in from China to take her out to celebrate, she realizes that something is very wrong. He is under the impression that the settlement was just $30 million dollars.

Sloane has disappeared along with his banker girlfriend and the rest of the money. After a frantic Mayday call, both are presumed dead when their yacht supposedly sinks.

Furious and embarrassed, Beth is determined to find the money, and ends up working with Sloane’s son but isn’t at all sure he can be trusted, despite their mutual attraction. Meanwhile the law firm may be on the hook for the money, but Leung seems more interested in getting his files than in the money.

International money laundering, corruption, violence and a horrific tropical storm all combine to make this a breathless race to the finish line – and the money. Readers who enjoy John Grisham and Scott Turow will be satisfied.

Copyright ©2016 Booklist, a division of the American Library Association.

04/16 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch™

NOBLE CHASE by Michael Rudolph. Ballantine Books (April 19, 2016). ISBN 978-1101884379. 320p.