* Prices may differ from that shown
I'd consider myself a fan of Connelly so when I came across this in the library, one of his I hadn't already read, I was really looking forward to it. As expected, I wasn't disappointed; a court-room thriller with twists and great characters, The Fifth Witness is one to get hooked on from start to finish.
On the front of the cover is a quote from The Mirror to tempt us, telling us that Connelly is "The greatest living American crime writer". Those who are already familiar with his novels will know the usual suspects involved and how the novels are usually played out. We're introduced to Mickey Haller, the renowned defence attourney. This time he's dealing with foreclosures during a difficult economic time as people have taken up unrealistic mortgages all over the country only to find they have no way of keeping up with payments. His business is getting off the ground but one case in particular is causing a bit of a stir. Lisa Trammel has been his client for 8 months and has turned herself in to an activist for the cause, seeing the foreclosure and the whole situation as very unfair. She enlists a new sidekick, Herb Dahl, to 'help' with movie deals and putting Lisa under big lights to get her the big bucks, except that's what Haller should be getting as per their contract. Haller is therefore not so hot on Dahl, seeing him as a bit of a money-grabbing slimeball rather than someone actually wanting to help Trammel.
Things get worse for Trammel when Mitchell Bondurant, CEO of the bank whose fraudulent dealings led to Lisa seeking Mickey's help as her house was about to be taken away, is found dead in the bank's car park. The murder seems suspicious, but unfortunately all eyes are on Lisa for this one, despite her desperate cries of innocence. She turns to Mickey to defend her, but he's got a big job on his hands, especially with the media circus surrounding the case. The rest of the novel goes on to see the outplay of the trial, so I won't say any more as this is all that's really in the 'blurb', but I will say that there are some nice twists and turns that keep the story fresh.
We get to see other familiar names throughout the novel, including Maggie McFierce, Haller's daughter Haley, Rojas (the driver of Haller's Lincon, aka his thinking car when he does his best work), Cisco and Lorna, who form part of his team. It's good to see these characters when you already have some background info from previous books as it gives some familiarity and you look forward to reading about them. However, if you're new to Connelly it doesn't make a difference; you won't miss out on information or feel like you needed to have read previous books because Connelly re-caps well and builds the characters in each novel.
The Fifth Witness is very much courtroom-based and so there's a lot of legal terminology and criminology at play. I really like this aspect because it brings with it a sense of genuineness, bringing us in to the story as if it's really happening as it would in 'the real world' so to speak. It's also interesting seeing how it's done, the tactics involved, the way a case plays out and the details involved in defending and prosecuting. Connelly has a way of putting the technical bits in without overcomplicating things too, so I didn't feel lost or confused going along with the case.
The story is built up bit by bit and it was interesting to see how pieces of the story come together. We don't see the full story from the start, rather we see what the lawyer sees as he goes along, so there's an element of suspense and mystery built up that made me want to keep reading. The characters are also built up gradually and I liked that they seem quite three dimensional, making them more appealing to read about and to imagine as the scenes play out. Connelly is able to create the scenes and characters quite visually so you can picture what's happening, and that for me was what, in part, made it so enjoyable to read.
Not only is it well written, I also thought the premise was quite interesting. It seems fairly straight forward but is complicated by the specifics and courtroom terminology, but the twists and extra details, for instance in relation to individual characters and relationships between them, gives the plot more flavour.
On the back is further praise for the novel, including "Terrific" - The Times, "Impossible to put down" - Mail on Sunday and "The master storyteller" - Sunday Telegraph. I'd agree with these; The Fifth Witness is intelligently written, interesting, gripping to read and strangely easy to do so because Connelly makes you want to keep turning the pages.
54 chapters over 421 pages
Selling on Amazon for £4.18 (paperback)