Book Reviews: Read It: Laying Down the Law

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(Orion pounds 17.99) HHHHH

W hat exactly is a Lincoln lawyer? According to the superb Michael Connelly, he's a criminal defence attorney with a rather dishevelled appearance and personal life who operates out of the back of a Lincoln Town Car.

Effectively, he's at the bottom of the legal food chain, scraping a living by dashing from courthouse to courthouse while representing pretty much the worst scum that, in this case, Los Angeles county has to chuck at him. The Lincoln lawyer in question is Mickey Haller. If Raymond Chandler's Philip Marlowe had been a lawyer rather than a gumshoe, and operating today, he would have had a lot in common with Mickey.

As the former police reporter for the Los Angeles Times, Connelly obviously knows his way around town. However, with Mickey he's created a character every bit as human, flawed and compelling as Harry. What's more, he's made the intricacies of criminal law and battling the so-called system seem like so much fun. But then Mickey skates on thin ice, too often blurring the line between being a criminal attorney and a criminal.

While dashing between two incarcerated clients - a biker on a drugs rap, and a hooker on drugs - Mickey gets a call from his second ex-wife Lorna informing him of a new job. …