Only time will tell.
Want more Mickey Haller? You can often find her rocking double denim with her nose in a book and a craft beer in her hand. Follow her on Twitter fuelldbyfiction. Here, Connelly discusses the perils of writing about a defense attorney, the source of his courtroom knowledge and the connection between Mikey and Matthew McConaughey. Question: Michael, in The Fifth Witness , we learn that times have been tough for criminal defense attorney Mickey Haller causing him to expand his law practice into foreclosure defense. One of his foreclosure clients gets accused of killing the banker she blames for trying to take her home.
Why did you decide to tackle the tricky subject of foreclosure in this book? Michael Connelly: Two reasons.
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First, I am always looking for a story that reflects a little bit of what is happening in society at the moment. And this, of course, is happening.
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Millions of homes have been foreclosed on in the last couple years and probably millions more to come. The second reason is that I sort of fell into it. Because the economic downturn has resulted in fewer clients being able to hire private defense counsel, he moved into foreclosure defense. He told me some stories about this side of the legal trade and I knew there was a story there.
MC: Absolutely. On one side there are readers who love watching a guy who is good at gaming the system. On the other, there are readers looking for a hero. So the difficulty is finding stories and situations where Mickey sort of speaks to both of these constituencies. Reading to me is about creating an empathic connection with a character.
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The challenge in accomplishing this as a writer is more difficult when that character, as you say, is often misunderstood and generalized as sleazy. It is so much easier to build a connection between the reader and a detective like Harry Bosch. Missed Chapter 1 or Chapter 2? Read them first.
In the hallway outside the courtroom I turned my cell phone back on and called my driver to tell him I was coming out. I then checked voicemail and found messages from Lorna Taylor and Fernando Valenzuela. I decided to wait until I was in the car to make the callbacks. Earl Briggs, my driver, had the Lincoln right out front. His deal was just to drive me while he worked off the fee he owed me for getting him probation on a cocaine sales conviction. I paid him twenty bucks an hour to drive me but then held half of it back to go against the fee. Earl said he wanted to go straight in life and I believed him.
I could hear the sound of hip-hop pulsing behind the closed windows of the Town Car as I approached.
But Earl killed the music as soon as I reached for the door handle. I slid into the back and told him to head toward Van Nuys. Over the years, I had become knowledgeable in the subtle distinctions, regional and otherwise, in rap and hip-hop.
Across the board, most of my clients listened to it, many of them developing their life strategies from it. Mulholland Books is excerpting the first three chapters from the book, accompanied by stills from the film, as well as some surprises along the way. Missed Chapter 1? Read it first. The courtroom in Department 2A was crowded with lawyers negotiating and socializing on both sides of the bar when I got there. I could tell the session was going to start on time because I saw the bailiff seated at his desk.
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This meant the judge was close to taking the bench. In Los Angeles County the bailiffs are actually sworn deputy sheriffs who are assigned to the jail division. I approached the bailiff, whose desk was right next to the bar railing so citizens could come up to ask questions without having to violate the space assigned to the lawyers, defendants and courtroom personnel. I saw the calendar on the clipboard in front of him. I checked the nameplate on his uniform—R. Rodriguez—before speaking. The bailiff used his finger to start down the list on the call sheet but stopped quickly.
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This meant I was in luck. I just called. The judge is coming out. I just smiled and went through the gate. I told him I was going to be quick. Over the next week, Mulholland Books will excerpt the first three chapters from the book, accompanied by stills from the film, as well as some surprises along the way. It carries the taste of promise on it. When it starts blowing in like that I like to keep a window open in my office. There are a few people who know this routine of mine, people like Fernando Valenzuela.
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