Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Summer Reading Roundup

Capsule reviews of my most recent reads:

True Detectives, by Jonathan Kellerman. It's been a while since I've read a Kellerman book - I've enjoyed Kellerman's Alex Delaware books that I've read, but neither did I feel compelled to read every one of them - like I do with Coben, Connelly and Crais. This one features two new characters (though apparently they made a cameo appearance in the last Delaware novel), Private Detective Aaron Fox and Detective Moses Reed. The two are brothers, but couldn't be less alike - the only thing they have in common is their mother; their deceased fathers (one white, one black) had been LAPD partners, until the night that one of them was killed in the line of duty. Fox is flashy, Reed is dull. Fox bends the rules every chance he gets, Reed follows them to the letter of the law. The two come together, more or less against their will, when they find themselves working the same case - a young woman disappeared and presumed dead, months ago. They approach the case from different angles and with different styles, and eventually uncover a lot more than they had bargained for.

It's not a great book, but it's a good one, and well worth a summer read. Alex Delaware makes a cameo, as does Petra Connor, the protagonist of Kellerman's "Billy Straight."

The Brass Verdict, by Michael Connelly. This one brings back Mickey Haller, last seen in "The Lincoln Lawyer. " On Connelly's Web site, the book is billed as a "Mickey Haller and Harry Bosch book," but that's misleading. The entire book is told from Haller's point of view, and Bosch - though his role is important, if not critical - is simply part of the supporting cast.

The story picks up with Haller just beginning to get back into the legal game after taking a year off to battle a number of personal demons. An entire caseload literally falls into his lap when a fellow attorney is murdered, and Haller is named in the will as the designated pinch-hitter. Among the clients is a superstar film producer, accused of murdering his wife and her lover in a fit of rage after she demanded a divorce the day after the couple's pre-nuptial agreement had vested. As Haller gets deeper into the case, he begins to realize that little is as it seems. And while he's trying to focus on getting his client off, there's the little matter of the killer still being on the loose, and perhaps looking closely at him.

Overall, it's a fine return to form for Connelly after "The Overlook," the Bosch book which felt a bit rushed (not to mention short). Apparently, Connelly needed a little break from Bosch to recharge his batteries, and he succeeded with "The Brass Verdict." I'm now looking forward to "The Scarecrow," another non-Bosch book released last spring (and featuring Jack McEvoy, who last starred in "The Poet" and has made several cameo appearances since, including one in "Brass Verdict").

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