Sunday, October 2, 2011

REVIEW: The Reversal by Michael Connelly


Longtime defense attorney Mickey Haller is recruited to change stripes and prosecute the high-profile retrial of a brutal child murder. After 24 years in prison, convicted killer Jason Jessup has been exonerated by new DNA evidence. Haller is convinced Jessup is guilty, and he takes the case on the condition that he gets to choose his investigator, LAPD Detective Harry Bosch.

Together, Bosch and Haller set off on a case fraught with political and personal danger. Opposing them is Jessup, now out on bail, a defense attorney who excels at manipulating the media, and a runaway eyewitness reluctant to testify after so many years.

With the odds and the evidence against them, Bosch and Haller must nail a sadistic killer once and for all. If Bosch is sure of anything, it is that Jason Jessup plans to kill again.

About the Author Michael Connelly
from Barnes and Noble

Best known for his dark police procedurals featuring the tough, complex and emotionally scarred LAPD detective, Hieronymous "Harry" Bosch, Michael Connelly has been called "infernally ingenious" (The New York Times), "one of those masters...who can keep driving the story forward in runaway locomotive style" (USA Today) and "the top rank of a new generation of crime writers" (The Los Angeles Times).

Consistently exquisite prose and engrossing storylines play an integral role in his swelling success. However, Connelly believes that solid character development is the most important key. As he explained to, "I think books with weak or translucent plots can survive if the character being drawn along the path is rich, interesting and multi-faceted. The opposite is not true."

A native of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Connelly attended the University of Florida; there he discovered the works of Raymond Chandler -- author of many classic Los Angeles-based noir dramas such as The Big Sleep, The Long Goodbye, and Farewell, My Lovely. The cases of Philip Marlowe inspired Connelly to be a crime novelist -- and by studying journalism, he put himself in the perfect position. "I went into journalism to learn the craft of writing and to get close to the world I wanted to write about -- police and criminals, the criminal justice system," he told

After graduation, Connelly worked the crime beat for two Florida newspapers. When a story he and a colleague wrote about the disastrous 1985 crash of Delta Flight 191 was short-listed for the Pulitzer, Connelly landed a gig in Marlowe's backyard, covering crime for one of the nation's largest newspapers -- The Los Angeles Times. Three years later, Harry Bosch was introduced in The Black Echo, which earned Connelly the Edgar Award for Best First Novel. Connelly has since won every major mystery honor, including the Anthony (The Poet, Blood Work) and the Macavity Award (Blood Work).

While Connelly has written stand-alone novels that don't feature his tragic protagonist Harry Bosch, he is best identified by his rigid, contentious and fiery -- but also immensely skilled and compassionate -- detective. According to The Boston Globe, the Bosch series "raises the hard-boiled detective novel to a new level...adding substance and depth to modern crime fiction."

Called "one of the most compelling, complex protagonists in recent crime fiction" (Newsweek) and "a terrific...wonderful, old-fashioned hero who isn't afraid to walk through the flames -- and suffer the pain for the rest of us" (The New York Times Book Review), Bosch faces unforgettable horrors every day -- either on the street or in his own mind. "Bosch is making up for wrongs done to him when he rights wrongs as a homicide detective," Connelly explained in an interview with his publisher. "In a way, he is an avenging angel."

Bosch is clearly a product of his deadly, unforgiving environment. "The philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche once wrote that when you look into the darkness of the abyss the abyss looks into you. Probably no other line or thought more inspires or informs my work," said Connelly in the same interview. With each passing novel, Bosch looks deeper and deeper into the abyss; and readers continue to return to see just how far he will gaze.

Good To Know
  • Michael Connelly received a huge career boost in 1994 when then President Bill Clinton was photographed walking out of a Washington bookstore with a copy of The Concrete Blonde under his arm. Connelly remarked to USA Today, "In the six years I've been writing books, that is the biggest thrill I've had."
  • Real events have always inspired Connelly's plots. His novel Blood Work was inspired by a friend who underwent transplant surgery and was coping with survivor's guilt, knowing someone had died in order for him to live. The book was later developed into a feature film starring Clint Eastwood, Angelica Huston, and Jeff Daniels.
  • One of Connelly's writing professors at the University of Florida was cult novelist Harry Crews.
  • Connelly named his most famous character after the 15th Century Dutch painter, Hieronymous Bosch. As he told Bookends UK in an interview, Bosch "created richly detailed landscapes of debauchery and violence and human defilement. There is a world gone mad' feel to many of his works, including one called Hell' -- of which a print hangs on the wall over the computer where I write."
My Thoughts
The last time I'd eaten at the Watermark Grill I sat across the table from a client who had coldly and calculatedly murdered his wife and her lover, shooting both of them in the face.

Los Angeles and Mulholland Drive. Also briefly in one of my favorite towns of Port Townsend, WA.

Jason Jessup was convicted 20+ years ago for the murder of a 12-year-old girl. Now new DNA evidence is braced to make him a free man. Michael “Mickey” Haller, normally a defense attorney, is brought in to prosecute Jessup and make sure that justice is served. Haller, an experienced defense attorney who has never worked the other side of the courtroom before, brings in his ex-wife Maggie “McFierce” McPherson, a well-respected prosecuting attorney, to play second chair for him. He also elicits the services of investigator Harry Bosch, his half-brother. The three of them make a great prosecutorial team, and they fight to make sure that Jessup stays in prison where they believe he belongs, despite new evidence.

This book plays dual roles, as #16 in the Harry Bosch series and #3 in the Mick Haller series.

I’ve dragged my feet for a few months on starting this book, and now I have no idea why! From the first few pages, it had me in its grip. Entertaining and engaging, it grabbed me and held me throughout the story, although the end was a little anti-climatic.

Mick Haller is an honest man and good at what he does, although he may at times allow himself to be caught up in the “game” that court trials have become and lose sight of what it is really supposed to be about-- justice.

Mick brings in his ex-wife Maggie to play second chair during the trial. Maggie pushes him and makes him better. The sexual tension between them adds a lot of nice energy. You feel that Mick is always trying to live up to his ex-wife’s expectations of him, and that he dreads ever letting her down. They have the quintessential love-hate relationship.

Mick also has an investigator working the case by the name of Harry Bosch. They didn’t really delve into the backstory on these guys, but it seems that perhaps Mick and Harry are half-brothers. There seems to be tension and an air of disapproval between them, but they work well together.

This is my first Connelly story, so I don’t know the history of Haller, McPherson and Bosch, but I enjoyed the familiarity that played out amongst them, and there was lots of tension-- sexual chemistry, resentment, old grudges-- along with mutual respect.

My final word: I don’t believe there was ever a moment in this story where I found myself bored, as there was plenty of suspense. It was very easy to read, with lots of dialogue, and great characters-- just the way I like it! The conclusion may have been slightly anti-climatic, but not enough to have detracted from the story at all. I normally don't read much crime fiction, but this one left me wanting to go back and read all of the others to precede it in the series.

My Rating: 8.5 out of 10


I received a copy of this book to review through GoodReads, in exchange for my honest opinion. I was not financially compensated in any way, and the opinions expressed are my own and based on my observations while reading this novel.

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