pen rainbow

Monday, May 16, 2011

Monday—The Reading Corner—The Lincoln Lawyer & The Good Fight

The Lincoln Lawyer is on Kindle!
I just finished these 2 books!

The Lincoln Lawyer by Michael Connelly  ★★★★

I enjoy crime novels; the more complicated the plot, the better.  This was the first Michael Connelly novel I've read and the first one featuring the fictional character, defense attorney, Mickey Haller.  Before I go any further, I have to tell the lawyer joke that is in the book:

Q.  What's the difference between a catfish and a lawyer?  A.  One's a scum-sucking bottom dweller and the other's a fish.  (Yeah, it's funny until you need a good lawyer.)

The characters in this book have a sense of humor about their work in the legal system.  The story takes place in L.A., and Mick Haller is the kind of guy who will defend anybody as long as the defendant can afford his fee.

This book actually helped me understand why criminal defense lawyers defend people who are accused of heinous crimes.  The presumption of innocence is the foundation of a fair and just system of laws as defined by our founding fathers.  It is this system of laws based on the protection of the innocent and the wrongly accused that protects our individual freeedom.  The responsibility of a defense attorney is to the defendant, but in a broader sense, it is about protecting individuals against false imprisonment.  By forcing the prosecution to make its case with sound arguments, solid evidence, and reliable testimony, a defense attorney is ensuring that when the verdict is read, it is carefully considered and thoroughly justified.

It doesn't always work, but if the prosecution can't convince a jury beyond a reasonable doubt that someone is guilty (People v. Simpson comes to mind), then they have not done their job and the defense has.

The Lincoln Lawyer is a courtroom drama/crime novel about guilt and innocence, relationships, ethics, and justice.  It's a smart read, and you can look forward to a satisfying twist at the end.  I read the book after the movie was out of the theaters, but will catch it when it comes out on DVD. Fwiw, I heard that the movie (click here to watch a trailer), starring Mathew McConaughey as Mickey Haller and Ryan Phillippe as the wealthy client accused of murder, is really good.        

Harry Reid, Senate candidate—Boulder City—1974
The Good Fight, Hard Lessons from Searchlight to Washington by Harry Reid & Mark Warren  ★★★★

This book was recommended to me by my mom's cousin during a conversation we were having about family history and genealogy.

It's an interesting read in contrast to the family stories that I've heard all of my life as told by my grandmother (Harry's aunt), my mom, her cousins, and various aunts and uncles.  The chapters written by Esquire's political editor, Mark Warren, are detailed (and not surprisingly) partisan insider accounts of more recent Congressional battles.  Social Security, the Nuclear Option, Cheney and Rumsfeld, Abu Ghraib, the war in Iraq, the Global War on Terror, Yucca Mountain, and the interchangability of legislative allies was a lot to take in, but fascinating reading!

Me & my pickle—1974 campaigning for Harry
I am always surprised that Harry is so honest about his past.  I found that his personal stories were meaningful and often hard to imagine, like the chapter where Harry described where he was on 9-11 and how events unfolded for him on that day.  He would have been the Senate Majority Whip and one of the top leaders in the United States Senate. While I sat on my unmade bed that morning with my husband and kids watching the twin towers collapse, Harry and other government leaders were being moved to safe locations around Washington, D.C.  My mother's quiet and unassuming cousin from Searchlight  had more than likely been part of the Continuity of Government Plan.  One thing I know for sure about the Reids is that they are stone-cold and steely-eyed in the face of danger.  Harry would have been a real asset to those around him that day.

There were many parts of the book that I enjoyed.  It is well-written and interesting, particularly from the perspective of a native Nevadan.  Vegas is rich with stories, and many of the principal players are still hanging around.  It's a good read for anyone who follows national politics, as well.  Mark Warren's excellent writing combined with Harry's personal accounts of Searchlight and Vegas keep it moving and engaging.  I would have given it 5 stars, but Harry gets a little too religious at the end of the book for my taste.  I am the sole member of my own faith, the Church of Dogs Who Wear Bandanas...(real dogs, that is...).  ;o)