Audiobook Review: The Fifth Witness by Michael Connelly

8 04 2011

The Fifth Witness by Michael Connelly (Mickey Haller, Book 4)

Read by Peter Giles

Hachette Audio

Genre: Courtroom Thriller

Quick Thoughts: Perhaps the best courtroom thriller since Scott Turow’s 1987 classic, Presumed Innocent.

Grade: A+

It’s hard to pinpoint the exact time where Michael Connelly transformed from “an author who I look forward to his new release every year or so” to one of my favorite authors. Yeah, I always enjoyed the Harry Bosch novels and thought The Poet was one of the best serial killer novels of all time, but until recently, Connelly was never the author that I was scanning websites, searching for news about his next release. If you held a gun to my head, and forced me to give you an answer, I would have to choose between two points. The first was when I began listening to more audiobooks. When I began listening to audiobooks, one of the first things I did was go back and fill in all the holes in my Michael Connelly Bibliography. The second point, if you still had that gun and began waving it menacingly, would be when The Lincoln Lawyer was released and Connelly introduced us to Defense Attorney Mickey Haller. You see, my two favorite sub-genres of books are Post Apocalyptic, and Courtroom Thrillers. Yeah, I know that’s sort of like saying your two favorite kinds of food are Pad Thai, and donuts, but, well it’s true. With the introduction of Mickey Haller, Connelly created a Courtroom Thriller series, better written and more realistic then most novels produced by Lawyers turned writers. The high point of the series, The Reversal, won my (not so) coveted Best Audiobook of 2010.

So, now, Connelly has released the fourth entry in the Mickey Haller series, The Fifth Witness. Mickey and company have fallen onto hard times, and now are specializing in Foreclosure Law. Of course, when one of his clients is accuse of killing the banker responsible for the foreclosure proceedings on her house, Mickey once again dons his Defense Attorney hat, and takes the case. Now, I am going to put this pretty simply, The Fifth Witness may possibly be the best Courtroom Thriller written in the past 10 years, maybe even longer. In fact, the only competition I can even reasonably put against it is Connelly’s own The Reversal, and Scott Turow’s 2010 novel Innocent. Even further, I would say that The Fifth Witness is the best Courtroom Thriller since Scott Turow’s 1987 classic Presumed Innocent (prequel to Innocent.) In The Fifth Witness you will not find any high speed chases, gun battles, or hand to hand combat. What you have is a systematic, yet intriguing step by step look at our legal system. Connelly brings you through the complex system of jurisprudence, examining each step through the eyes of jaded Defense Attorney Mickey Haller. Yet, Connelly also adds a human element, showing Haller’s evolving relationship with his ex-wife, as well as his legal staff. As in most legal thrillers, you have the conflicts, whether is be with his client, her shady benefactor, the prosecutor, and the judge, yet all of these are tempered by Haller’s own conscience, despite his advice against having one. Connelly ends the novel brilliantly, and prepares us for even more change in Mickey Haller’s life with the next novel.

It’s hard to judge Peter Giles as a narrator. The majority of his narrating work has been on Michael Connelly’s books. Giles brings a straight forward, even keeled reading to the novel. While in some works, this would come of as almost robotic, here it fits the rhythms of this novel perfectly. Giles finds just the right tone for each character, never overdoing it. His cadence, especially during Haller’s courtroom scenes, is dead on. I’m not sure if this is by choice, or just his limits as a narrator, but Giles simplistic approach to the reading of this novel allowed the story to shine on its own, needing no over the top performance to keep the listener interested. I would be quite interested to see how Giles would handle other work, where more of a performance is required. Yet, that is for another time. Here, Giles brings home this excellent novel, and hopefully will continue to do it in further installments of this series.



One response

15 12 2011
My Top 20 Audiobooks of 2011 « The Guilded Earlobe

[…] My Review […]

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