The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

January 30, 2009

Book review: ‘Verdict’ offers surprise twist


‘The Brass Verdict’

By Michael Connelly (compact disc audiobook)

Criminal defense attorney Mickey Haller has been on a two-year hiatus from work since he was shot. He became addicted to painkillers during his recovery and eventually served a stint in rehab. Just as he is considering returning to work, a whole list of clients and an office lands in his lap.

Haller has never had a real office. His previous office and staff consisted of a driver for one his three Lincoln Towncars, with Haller working in the back seat and his ex-wife acting as his secretary from her home. His extended vacation unexpectedly ends when colleague Jerry Vincent is murdered. Vincent and Haller had mutual agreements drawn up that if anything happened to one of them the other would take over his law practice. With Vincent’s death, Haller suddenly inherits Vincent’s practice, including the high-profile murder trial of Walter Elliot, a Hollywood mogul accused of murdering his wife and her lover.

Harry Bosch, LAPD detective and main character in his own series, is assigned to be the lead detective on the Vincent murder case. Haller tries to work with Bosch within the ethical boundaries of the legal world, including protecting the identity of his clients. After all, a whole caseload of clients plus an office just landed in Haller’s lap, and he endeavors to clear his own name from the list of suspects with a motive for murder. Haller also discovers that he might just be the next victim if the murderer isn’t caught.

“The Brass Verdict” is a gripping legal thriller with complex and colorful characters and intricate plotting with a surprise twist at the end. I always thoroughly enjoy Connelly’s choice of words and his style of writing, and this novel is no different. Peter Giles lends his smooth narrative abilities to this excellent novel.

‘Crosscut’

By Meg Gardiner (compact disc audiobook)

Twenty years ago, Evan Delaney and her high-school classmates took a field trip to the naval base in China Lake. Evan and three other girls left the group only to witness a project being blown up in the desert. It wasn’t an accident, but a cleanup of an operation that was going wrong. The girls were interrogated by federal officials but returned to school and forgot about it.

Now, Evan with her lover, Jesse, returns to China Lake in California to attend her 15th high-school reunion. The gruesome murder of a classmate before the reunion and a second one that evening leads Evan to the realization that since graduation the mortality rate of her classmates is extremely high. In addition, most of her dead classmates were on the field trip that day.

Evan’s investigation takes several twists and turns as she races to discover the identity of the serial killer and his motivation for killing her classmates, armed with the knowledge that she will also be his victim if he is not stopped.

“Crosscut” has an action-packed plot, great characters and is an exciting thriller that keeps you on the edge of your seat. Although Gardiner describes the murders in grisly detail (so if you can’t stand gore you might want to pass on this), she delivers comic relief in the form of Evan’s cousin Tator and Evan’s one-liners.

Tanya Eby Sirois narrates “Crosscut,” the fourth in the Evan Delaney series. The Joplin Public Library owns most of the series in the audiobook format. Meg Gardiner is an American whose thrillers are published in and are bestsellers in Great Britain.

Phyllis Seesengood is the technical services librarian at Joplin Public Library.