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on 19 April 2011
In this, the fourth book in the Mickey Haller series, the credit crunch is hitting everybody. Haller isn't getting too many criminal cases so his business is now handling civil cases where banks are imposing foreclosures - sometimes illegally - on the poor individuals who can't keep up their mortgage repayments. Haller has one such client, Lisa Trammel, and he's managed to keep the bank at bay for eight months while he assembles a case against both them and ALOFT - the company handling the foreclosure on behalf of the bank.

Then comes the hammer blow: the bank's CEO, Mitchell Bondurant is found murdered in the company car park, and Lisa has been arrested for the offence. Haller now has a new criminal case on his hands...

Much of the ensuing action, naturally, takes place in court as Haller brilliantly conducts the defence while simultaneously trying to win back one of his ex-wives, Maggie 'McFierce' McPherson. All the characters, for me, are as well-drawn as they can be in genre fiction, where the emphasis is necessarily on the plot. And boy, what a plot this has. The one weakness lies in the fact that the case against Trammel goes to court with the prosecution initially armed with no more than circumstantial evidence. Would that really happen? But this is a minor quibble; the book is fantastic entertainment.

A plot development involving the sale of the trial rights to Hollywood allows Mickey to hire an office from which he and his legal team can conduct their defence. And Connelly inserts a superb in-joke relating to Matthew McConaughey into the mix.

The author has written this in the first person and it's Haller's voice we hear, outlining his strategies, explaining his moves, but crucially still managing to shield some of his thoughts so that we are regularly supplied with surprises.

The pay off to this brilliantly written legal thriller is well worth waiting for, with, if I'm stretching a point, no less than three twists. All in all, I would not be putting it too strongly in comparing this favourably with John Grisham's early stuff, when he was still in his prime and producing great novels. Indeed, Connelly is perhaps even better than Grisham in this genre now.

I found this more satisfying than the last Haller novel - `The Reversal' - which, although an excellent mix of legal thriller and police investigation, didn't tie up some loose ends to my satisfaction. No such charge can be levelled against this volume.

The Harry Bosch series may soon be drawing to a close (although the first two chapters of the next Bosch novel - 'The Drop' - due in October, are teasingly appended here), with Harry now close to retirement age. But in Mickey Haller the author has created a great new character, and the series also cleverly allows room for the occasional cameo appearance by Bosch - as is the case in `The Fifth Witness'.

The cover claims Connelly is `The Greatest Living American Crime Writer' (a quote from the `Daily Mirror') and on this form it's hard to argue with that statement.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 30 July 2012
Although the courtroom drama is all too familiar a theme, Michael Connolly uses his legal knowledge as a former police reporter to great effect in this tense and compelling blow-by-blow, endlessly twisting account of a murder trial.

The underlying theme is very topical. His business hit by the "down economy", "Lincoln" lawyer Mickey Haller, so-called after the car he uses as an office, makes a good living by defending people obliged to foreclose on their mortgages in the aftermath of the collapsed housing boom. When one of his clients, the volatile Lisa, is charged with killing Bondurant, a senior official in the home loan company pursuing her, Haller steps in to take her case. I enjoyed the highly competitive, wily but basically decent lawyer's keen observation of others and his use of psychology to manipulate the police, prosecution, defendant,witnesses, colleagues and the judge alike, with varying degrees of success.

There is an interesting contrast between Haller's pragmatic approach, playing games and pushing rules to the limit in order to sow in the jurors' minds the seeds of doubt as to the defendant's innocence, and his inexperienced assistant's mixture of shock over his tactics, and concern that they might in fact be defending a guilty person. The continual sparring between Heller and the female prosecutor Freeman, together with the minefield of his exchanges with the judge, make for an absorbing drama. The book is more than a wisecracking thriller, but raises the moral dilemma of achieving "natural justice" and "the need to act fairly" versus the visceral desire for revenge, not to mention the pros and cons of the US plea bargaining system.

I was first drawn to Connolly's "Harry Bosch" detective thrillers by his striking descriptions of the American way of life and of the Los Angeles cityscape, sprawling into the desert, with the freeways, "All six lanes..clogged with metal, moving at a steady but slow pace. I wouldn't have it any other way. This was my city and this was the way it was supposed to run."

I like Connolly's careful plotting, in which every detail has significance, usually with a twist at the end, and the rounded development of the main characters. In "Nine Dragons", featuring Bosch (who turns out to be Haller's half-brother) I felt Connolly had run out of steam and descended to a mere pot-boiler, but this, the fourth in the Haller series, I believe, is back on form. Hard to fault, apart from the over-sentimental scenes with his idealised (but probably a bit of a pain) ex-wife Maggie and pampered daughter (at 14, shouldn't she be a babysitter rather than needing one?) plus one of the two last-minute twists seems a bit implausible.
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on 2 December 2011
I have been a follower of all the Mickey Haller books by Michael Connelly and have to say this is another great read in this series. Vintage Connelly hear, with the Haller we have all come to know and love. Great plot development, dialogue and also a book which reflects the times we are living in, " the credit crunch" and all that. Also for the first time, Facebook has a big bearing on the case. The characters are engaging, this is a real page turner with a twist which I didnt see coming, probably the best in the Haller series. Also the books ends on a inviting note, leading on to future novels undoubtedly . If crime fiction is your thing, and even if it isnt I can't recommend this book highly enough. Connelly, you truly are a treasure
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on 14 April 2011
Late last night I switched my Kindle on to read a few paragraphs of a book before getting some sleep - imagine my delight when I discovered the latest Michael Connelly book, The Fifth Witness which I had pre-ordered had been downloaded!

I then made the mistake of "just having a quick read of the first few pages". This resulted in me getting no sleep whatsoever until I'd finished it as it drew me in from the first page.

Mickey Haller, who was first introduced to readers as the Lincoln Lawyer, provides excellent court room drama. The recession means lawyers are having to diversify and criminal defense lawyers like Haller are turning to foreclosures. One of Haller's clients, Lisa Trammel, is accused of murdering a mortgage banker, Mitchell Bondurant, and the tale has many twists and turns along the way.

I have long been a Connelly aficionado and feel he is truly a Master at his craft. The plot, characters and dialogue are worked to the quality standard you would expect from an author of this calibre.

This review is on the book itself and if you have read this far you will realise I thoroughly enjoyed this latest offering from Michael Connelly. However, part and parcel of any review is the price and I do feel justified in stating I personally feel disappointed the publishers decided to charge a premium price for the electronic edition; it is more expensive than the hard cover version. I do feel a key element to Kindle owners is the environment and we should reasonably expect to pay certainly the equivalent of the hard cover - or better still, somewhat lower.

Against my better judgement, my desire to read the latest offering by this author did overcome my re-action to the pricing policy - so I'll now climb off my soapbox and emphatically state the book would be worth every penny of the "proper price" and feel whoever has decided the pricing policy is doing this author a serious injustice!

I thoroughly recommend this book - despite the price of the electronic version! My other complaint is of course that it's so captivating I read it too quickly and will now have to find something else to read.
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on 20 May 2011
I always enjoy Michael Connelly's books, he never ceases to surprise me and this is important in a mystery story. I like the character Micky Haller, but I prefer the Los Angeles Police Detective - Harry Bosh. I have all his books and I am anxiously awaiting a new Harry Bosch story. I lived in Los Angeles for
four years and San Francisco for 43, so I know California and all the places he writes about, so it is like a visit home. I am 87 and now live in England.
J. H. Franklyn
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This is a review of the first-edition hardback, which I pre-ordered before its release in April 2011 and mistakenly left on my to-be-read shelf for six months!

Number four in the series about LA defence attorney Mickey Haller, this one starts off with a contemporary and relevant feel to it, showing that the recession has hit even those who represent people charged with murder. These days Haller has an office - as well as a chauffered Lincoln or two - but most of his time is spent defending clients with mortgage arrears threatened with home repossessions. One of these clients, a woman who has a restraining order imposed against her by her bank for publicly campaigning against what she views as fraudulent foreclosure claims, is suddenly catapaulted into the TV headlines for the murder of the bank's CEO - and Haller is appointed to defend her. Nearly all of the story takes place in the courtroom, and that's fine by me because Connelly's very good at it and knows his way around the judges, prosecutors and juries.

One of the challenges facing an author in tales such as this is that fundamentally there's not a great deal more to it for the reader than the question 'Did she do it or not?', but instead of padding things out with sub-threads and sub-plots, Connelly's confident enough to focus almost entirely on the defence case itself, as acted out mainly in the courtroom, and still deliver a story that for once I found hard to put down at any point. Thankfully there's more than one ending but it's not dragged out in the slightest; far from it, as all three 'endings' cover just a handful of pages. And it was full of surprises.

If there is a sub-plot, it's the backdrop of Haller's relationship with his (first) ex-wife Maggie and their teenage daughter Hayley; to his credit this element is low-profile in context which is good because in my opinion romance isn't one of Connelly's strongest talents even if he's more than capable of it.

Connelly's working hard these days with new offerings coming out every six months or so, but I can't accuse him of diluting his appeal at all. I don't think it's quite the best Haller outing - for me The Lincoln Lawyer remains the best so far - but this is still very good indeed and I am only sorry I left it lying around for six months before reading it. It's one of the best books I've read this year, and it has prompted me to pre-order Connelly's forthcoming The Drop which is released later this month (and which I will read immediately!) Give this man his fair dues - he's still pretty much at the top of his game.
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on 3 November 2012
i am a great fan of michael connelly and have read all of his books,but the mike haller series are all very much alike with a twist at the end,but this one you could see coming while only halfway through the book and i find his relationship with his x wife and daughter a bit tedious
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on 24 December 2012
Sorry to many distractions from the main story. Don't want to read about the hero's personal life; just get on with the story. Lot's of irrelevant material which only pads the book out. Read it unwillingly after the first two chapters. Hard work.
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on 29 April 2011
This is a great book as the Lincoln Lawyer, Haller, defends a woman against foreclosure action and then as she becomes the prime suspect in the murder of the loan supervisor at her local bank. She is a real piece of work, I can tell you.

Of course the summary above does little justice to the story as a whole as not all is as it seems. This is a courtroom drama rather than a police procedural and Connelly handles it with aplomb. It is well-written and well-plotted and races forward at even pace from the very first pages. Connelly installs new developments at appropriate and interesting points and, of course, this includes a couple of good twists.

I'm sure he's on to a winner here as the ingredients of a great crime thriller are there. That, and there is no nonsense. I kept turning the pages and at no stage was I disappointed (I read it on a Kindle).

P.S. - At the time of writing, on the amazon.com site there were 100 Five Star reviews and 156 One Star reviews - a great number of the latter were in respect of the book's pricing. I hate to raise this issue here, but feel compelled to. The book price is visible and thus known to me and I look to these pages to find out whether reviewers regard books as good, bad or mediocre. It may be far more helpful if reviewers wishing to air negative views on pricing simply pressed the "Yes" or "Like"-equivalent button of the first or best existing review reflecting their views. Not only would the targets (presumably Amazon and/or the publishers) still note the numbers, but great books and authors would not be savaged unfairly.
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on 25 January 2016
Michal Connelly seemingly moved effortlessly from police procedural specialist to law court dramatist when he introduced the character of Mickey Haller. ‘The Lincoln Lawyer’ was a much needed injection of life into the work of an author who had begun to feel stale. However, by the 4th Haller outing, the sequel fatigue has already begun to set in. ‘The Fifth Witness’ is a perfectly passable book, but that means it is a decent enough read, but also one that you could happily pass on. Haller is now representing clients who have gone into foreclosure and when one of them is arrested for murder, he finds himself with an opportunity to make it back into the big time.

The issues with ‘Fifth’ is that it is the most courtroom procedural book you can imagine. The entire book seems to be designed to wait for who the fifth witness is and it does not provide the level of satisfaction that you would hope. In fact, the book seems to suggest that justice can be found on a technicality. Like the fictional people on the jury, the reader will end the court case thinking that it was pretty irrelevant and a waste of time.

The book remains readable because of Connelly’s breezy and informed writing. It does feel like it could be real, but there is enough action and intrigue just to keep you going. This is not the author’s best work in the court genre and it cannot shine a light on the best of Grisham or even some of Martini. The books feels a little like a writer on autopilot who found an interesting legal loophole and then built a book around it. Great for them, but a little lacking for the reader.
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