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The Fifth Witness by Michael Connelly


The Fifth Witness Reviewed by Allen Hott

Yep, the recession hurt everyone. And that includes Mickey Haller, the criminal defense lawyer in Los Angeles. So much so did the recession hurt that Haller began chasing down wrongful foreclosures. At least in his mind and in his methodology Haller felt that many foreclosures were definitely illegal. With that in mind he began defending many of these folks so that they could keep their homes at least for a spell while either they earned more to be able to make their payments or the bank figured out some other way to fight Haller’s methods.

Strangely enough one of his foreclosure clients quickly became one of his criminal defense clients when the lady was accused of murder. Lisa Trammel, the client, was arrested rather quickly when one of the top men at the bank who foreclosed upon her was shot and killed in the bank’s parking garage.

Trammel had built quite a reputation for herself somewhat similar to the Occupy “Whatever” folks have done. In her case she built a tremendous following by picketing outside the bank, appearing on every type of media broadcast that she was able to, and she even had put together a website extolling the good things about the poor people that the bad banks were foreclosing upon. Lisa had been a high school teacher and her husband was a BMW salesman. However when their loan (which had been sold back and forth several times by banks and financial wizards) ballooned and then went into default her husband left her and headed to Mexico.

Although Trammel had supposedly never had any one on one contact with the murder victim she was quickly arrested based on her rantings against the bank and also because another bank employee claimed to have seen Trammel on the street near the garage right after the time of the shooting.

Haller didn’t feel he had much of a chance in defending her and then he became even more irritated when he found that her bond had been put up by a Hollywood “filmmaker” who specialized in not top rated but more like “sleazy” films. Haller does manage to get out of a contract that Trammel had signed with Herbert Dahl, the filmmaker. However Dahl does continue to hang around and get very cozy with Trammel.

Another major obstacle for Haller pops up when the prosecuting attorney assigned to the case is one whom he has run up against several times and has yet to win against. Not only that. It also turns out she is also a friend of his ex-wife who works in the District Attorney’s office. Everything appears to be heading down hill in a hurry for Haller and his defense.

But as usual Michael Connelly has put together not only a great read but he has also provided various twists and turns that make the reader even more cognizant of how great Connelly builds his stories. For those of you who are unfamiliar with the term “The Fifth Witness” this book will clue you into that answer also!



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