My rating: 4 of 5 stars
For a while now, I’ve been squeezing into my meager reading time books Donald Maass used as examples in his writer’s manual The Fire in Fiction. Connelly’s The Brass Verdict served as an example of cutting a hero down to size, and it was a good choice for this illustration.
Part One of Connelly’s book shows the MC, defense attorney Micky Haller, twisting the knife in a prosecutor’s case and gaining freedom for a reprehensible client. Part Two opens several months later with a different Haller, on who’d been humbled by a gunshot wound. The exchange between him and the judge in the scene illustrates a more mature and reserved defense attorney. One that had been brought down to size. This is where he learns he’d just inherited a remarkable case load from another attorney who’d been murdered.
As the story progresses, Haller begins leaping buildings in single bounds, so to speak, as Connelly builds him up again, making his fall by the end of the book more dramatic. The secret to his fall is revealed in the first chapter:
Cops lie. Lawyers lie. Witnesses lie. The victims lie.
A trial is a contest of lies . . .
Even in the glory of figuring out the case, Haller is unwittingly entwined in a web of lies, and the web brings him down, not morally, but deep within his own heart, to the point he announces he’s quitting law. The descent was masterfully crafted, as was the final question: Will he bounce back?