Orion £18.99 Order for £17.09 from the Independent Bookshop: 08430 600 030

The Reversal, By Michael Connelly

A novel that meddles with morals

For years, Michael Connelly was a name for cognoscenti to bring up when far less accomplished – but more successful – authors were mentioned. Not any more: this immensely capable American crime novelist has rocketed to bestseller status via a TV book club recommendation for The Lincoln Lawyer. That fact may stymie those who want to flourish their credentials as aficionados – but it's no doubt good news for Connelly and his bank manager.

His new book, The Reversal, is further proof of his proficiency. Connelly's protagonist, lawyer Mickey Haller, knows his reputation is in need of a little finessing as (despite his skills) his low-rent, bottom-feeding days are fresh in various memories. So he is on his best behaviour when dining with the Machiavellian district attorney of Los Angeles County.

Mickey is suspicious when invited to prosecute a case which would involve switching sides with the DA, who is keen to retry a convicted child killer, Jason Jessup. He had languished on death row for several decades before DNA evidence brought about his release. Mickey is unable to say no – and at least he has the help of Detective Harry Bosch, who is to be his lead investigator.

But as Bosch and Haller unearth grim facts about the Jessup case, they become convinced that the original trial verdict had been correct: Jessup is guilty. The DA, for his own reasons, is presenting Jessup as the innocent pawn in a case of judicial corruption. Mickey is aware that this is a case he cannot lose – even though his client, once released, is likely to murder again.

Bernard Shaw said that the ability to take liberties was the secret of success. Connelly is fully aware that taking liberties with both his characters and the conventions of the crime novel can have some impressive results. In The Reversal, he manipulates our positive response to his two signature characters (Haller and Bosch) by forcing us to change our minds about the ethics of their behaviour – and their juggling with the queasy gradations of right and wrong.

This moral balancing act obliges us frequently to re-jig our attitude to his characters. It makes the novel more complex than genre fiction usually allows, and we end up destabilised. This, though, is quite an achievement for a piece of accessible popular fiction – and a salutary reminder of why we need to go on reading Michael Connelly.

Arts and Entertainment

Will Poulter will play the shape-shifting monsterfilm
Arts and Entertainment

books
Arts and Entertainment
Paul Hollywood

'Whether he left is almost immaterial'TV
Arts and Entertainment

game of thrones reviewWarning: spoilers

Arts and Entertainment
The original Star Wars trio of Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher and Mark Hamill

George Osborne confirms Star Wars 8 will film at Pinewood Studios in time for 4 May

film

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

    Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

    Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
    Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

    Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

    Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
    China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

    China's influence on fashion

    At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
    Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

    The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

    Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
    Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

    Rainbow shades

    It's all bright on the night
    'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

    Bread from heaven

    Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
    Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

    How 'the Axe' helped Labour

    UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
    Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

    The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

    A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
    Welcome to the world of Megagames

    Welcome to the world of Megagames

    300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
    'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

    Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

    Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
    Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

    Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

    The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
    Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

    Vince Cable exclusive interview

    Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
    Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

    Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

    Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
    Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

    It's time for my close-up

    Meet the man who films great whites for a living
    Increasing numbers of homeless people in America keep their mobile phones on the streets

    Homeless people keep mobile phones

    A homeless person with a smartphone is a common sight in the US. And that's creating a network where the 'hobo' community can share information - and fight stigma - like never before