This is my second review of one the works of Michael Connelly. The first was my recent review of his novel The Closers, featuring the main character detective Harry Bosch.
Bosch is now in production for its 6th season. All previous seasons are available on the Amazon Prime cable network.
In both the movie The Lincoln Lawyer, and Connelly’s novel by the same name, the main character is Michael (Mickey) Haller. It was Connelly’s 15th published novel, and introduced the Haller character who recurs in four more stand-alone novels and also makes appearances in a number of Harry Bosch novels. Bosch and Haller are actually half-brothers, their father having been a “customer” of Bosch’s mother who was a prostitute. They didn’t know about one another until much later in life.
In previous posts, I have mentioned my thoughts about the pros and cons of either reading a book first before seeing a movie, or seeing the movie first. I have had positive experiences both ways. In recent years, when books are brought to the big screen, they are typically much more true to the original novel content. That being the case, I think I now prefer to first read the book before seeing the movie.
Having read this novel first, and then having watched the movie, I like the order in which I did this. Because the book goes into a lot more depth than the movie, it was nice knowing the more intricate parts of the story that do not have enough time to flesh out in the movie. The movie was very true to the book, with only a few minor exceptions. In many cases it used the exact same dialog as in the book.
A few character exceptions in the movie which I noted were “Frank” Levin, instead of Raul, probably renamed because the movie cast William H. Macy in the role. Macy is not exactly someone whom you would expect to be named Raul.
The other character change I noted was the judge in the trial sequences. He is a black man in the movie, but the judge is a very no-nonsense woman in the book. Not sure why they felt this change was necessary.
Connelly relates in the following You Tube video (3:42) how his inspiration for this novel was one of the classic detective novels – The Long Goodbye, written by Raymond Chandler, and featuring Chandler’s iconic detective Phillip Marlowe.
The plot (no spoilers)
Mickey Haller is a very accomplished defense attorney in Los Angeles (where almost all of Connelly’s novels take place). Although one of his ex-wives, Lorna, is his office manager per se, Mickey works primarily out of the back of one of the Lincoln Towne Cars that he owns … hence the moniker The Lincoln Lawyer.
Mickey is very good at what he does and he will defend anyone who can afford him … but he much prefers those with really deep pockets. He has always pretty much assumed that everyone he defends is guilty but that makes no difference to him. His job is to defend them by using every advantage the law allows, and if the police and prosecutors don’t like it … well then, they had to be certain that they were doing their job better than Mickey does his.
Mickey’s father had always warned him that the most scary client was an innocent man, because if you could not get them off their charges, then that would haunt you. That’s kind of why Mickey always thought of everyone as being guilty, and never asked them the question of whether or not they were.
In this story, Mickey is told that a deep pockets client by the name of Louis Roulet (pronounced “rou LAY”, instead of like the casino game) has requested that Haller represent him. Roulet is accused of having assaulted and threatened a prostitute at knife point. Roulet’s mother is a very wealthy real estate agent, which is also Roulet’s profession.
During the course of his investigation and preparation to defend Roulet, Haller learns of potential prosecutorial misconduct which leads him to be confident that he will be able to either win an acquittal or get the charges dropped, since Roulet is insistent that he is innocent and will never settle for any guilty plea.
However, connections to a previous case of Haller’s from years before, when Haller had convinced a client to accept a guilty plea in order to avoid the death penalty, begin to cloud his investigation. There is a nice twist in the end that is contained both in the novel and movie, but with a few minor differences in the movie.
All in all, I found the novel to be excellent, and the movie well done, if not a bit formulaic. It is interesting that I never thought of the novel in that way but perhaps because the movie was much more condensed, it focused more on only the elements which could lead one to the forumulaic conclusion. Although the movie got an 84 rating from professional critics on Rotten Tomatoes, I did note that this was a fairly common complaint in those reviews that did not give it an overall favorable rating.
Perhaps Connelly learned from this experience and it led him to eventually wanting to have Bosch made into a made-for-TV series with each season delving much more into depth about elements of one or more of his novels. The following is a You Tube discussion with Connelly and Bosch star Titus Welliver where Connelly talks about his earlier difficulties with movie studios and his decision to have Bosch made into the series for Amazon.
Editor’s note (that would be ME): If you watched the previous You Tube video, you may note that Connelly seems much at ease in this more recent video. My guess is that the Lincoln Lawyer video was one of his first.)
Here is some information the main cast members from the movie.
Here is one more You Tube video of Connelly and McConaughey discussing the making of The Lincoln Lawyer.