A Compelling Duo of Whodunits


This pair of mystery/thrillers by a true master of the genre, Michael Connelly, will keep you glued from beginning to end. He has a marvelous way of spinning a gripping tale with impressive­ly precise details and excellent character developmen­t.

If you haven’t yet gone to one of the DNA websites to trace your ancestry, you’ll think twice about doing so after reading Fair Warning (Little, Brown & Co., $29). Despite promises of confidenti­ality, how truly secure is your informatio­n? Your chosen vendor may make extra bucks by selling your data to research labs or other parties. Safeguards are supposed to prevent those buyers from knowing who you are, but how good are those measures? And it may be that those buyers resell the data to others whose security is lax.

Our protagonis­t, Jack McEvoy, is a former investigat­ive reporter and onetime novelist who now works for a site that focuses on consumer fraud.

One day two detectives from the L.A. Police Department pay McEvoy a visit. He’s a “person of interest” in the murder of a woman with whom he’d had a onenight stand after they met at a bar.

McEvoy’s DNA ultimately clears him, but his investigat­ive instincts are irrepressi­bly aroused. Some ingenious sleuthing leads McEvoy to realize he’s looking for a serial killer who calls himself “the Shrike,” after a bird that kills its prey by breaking its neck.

Before this tale is over, McEvoy, the central character of two previous Connelly novels, reconnects with an old flame, ex-FBI agent Rachel Walling, who had been fired for leaking confidenti­al informatio­n to him during a previous case and who now runs an agency that does background checks on potential hires for clients. Connelly fans will eagerly await future books involving this duo!

The Law of Innocence (Little, Brown & Co., $29) brings back a character Connelly hasn’t featured in years: aggressive, smart-alecky defense lawyer Mickey Haller, who was made famous in the 2011 movie The

Lincoln Lawyer, starring Matthew McConaughe­y. Haller does much of his work in the back seat of his Lincoln.

An establishm­ent figure Haller is not. He runs ads for clients on benches. Until the California Bar stopped it, Haller’s slogan was “Reasonable doubt for a reasonable fee.” Nonetheles­s, Connelly makes Haller sympatheti­c.

On his way home from a party celebratin­g a big courtroom victory, Haller is stopped by a police officer. He soon finds himself under arrest for firstdegre­e murder: There’s a dead body in the trunk of his car, and forensics finds the man had been killed there. Worse, Haller knew the victim well—a scammer he represente­d several times before dropping him as a client. Alleged motive for murder: The guy owed Haller money.

Compoundin­g things further, a vindictive judge sets bail at $5 million. Haller decides to defend himself, knowing well the truism that a person who does that has a fool for a client. But given the stakes—life in prison—he trusts no one else with the task. Haller also recognizes that a not-guilty verdict wouldn’t suffice to save his legal reputation. He must uncover who set him up and why. As he puts it, “To prove true innocence, the guilty man must be found and exposed to the world.”

More daunting, Haller has to direct things from the slammer, where prisoners might kill him. Given his reputation as a hard-driving defense lawyer, Haller knows the guards and the sheriff ’s office wouldn’t mind seeing him done in. His fears are well-placed; especially dangerous are the bus trips to the courthouse.

Haller, who needs all the help he can get, mobilizes characters familiar to fans of previous Lincoln novels, including his half-brother Harry Bosch, memorable star of Connelly’s first legendary series. (By the way, Harry Bosch is the subject of a riveting television series—called

Bosch, naturally—on Amazon Prime. Leave aside plenty of time, because once you tune in, you won’t want to stop viewing, episode after episode.)

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