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Literature / The Brass Verdict

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The Brass Verdict is a 2008 novel by Michael Connelly, featuring as protagonist the ethically dubious lawyer Mickey Haller.

It has been two years since the traumatic Louis Roulet case that was related in The Lincoln Lawyer. Mickey's recovery from a gunshot wound segued into an addiction to opiate painkillers and he hasn't seen a courtroom in nearly a year. He has managed to put his life back together, though, and is suddenly yanked back into the world of criminal law when he receives surprising news. It seems an old acquaintance of Haller's, Jerry Vincent, has been murdered. More importantly for Haller, he has been charged with the responsibility of taking Vincent's caseload.

By far the biggest trial on Vincent's docket is the murder trial of Walter Elliot, a Hollywood movie producer and the head of Archway Pictures. Elliot is due to stand trial in nine days for the murder of his wife and her lover. Haller accepts the challenge but is shocked when Elliot insists on having the trial go forward as scheduled rather than accept a delay so Haller can prepare. Haller's job is further complicated by the investigation into the Vincent murder, which is being conducted by none other than Michael Connelly's most frequent protagonist, LAPD homicide detective Harry Bosch.

In 2022 Netflix premiered a series, The Lincoln Lawyer, which despite the title is an adaptation of this novel and not the novel The Lincoln Lawyer.

Tropes present in this book:

  • Army of Lawyers: Discussed and averted. Elliot insists that Mickey Haller be his only lawyer, because, as Elliot believes, only guilty people have an Army of Lawyers.
  • Big Damn Heroes: McSweeney tries to kill Haller and make it look like a suicide. Bosch and the FBI surveillance team show up in the nick of time to stop him.
  • Blasting It Out of Their Hands: It’s not explicitly stated who took the shot, but this happens to McSweeney when Bosch and the FBI interrupt him trying to kill Haller.
  • Continuity Nod:
    • Yet another nod to fictional Archway Pictures, which has been mentioned in multiple Connelly books dating back to Trunk Music in 1997.
    • Jack McEvoy, protagonist of The Poet, pops up briefly, doing his Intrepid Reporter thing.
    • As Haller goes through his files preparing for the Elliot trial, he remembers an old client of his, a Classy Cat-Burglar who liked to rob rich dudes in hotel rooms, cracking their safes while they slept. The woman talked about the thrill she got when she pulled a job, how the rush was better than the money. It's never confirmed, but this sounds a lot like Cassie Black, the Classy Cat-Burglar heroine of Connelly novel Void Moon.
  • Dirty Cop: This book features a twist on the usual trope in the person of a Dirty Judge. It turns out that Judge Mary Holder, chief judge of the LA Superior Court, participated in the jury tampering scheme and arranged for Elliot's juror to be selected at a certain time.
  • Distant Prologue: The first couple of chapters recount how Haller beat Vincent in a trial back in 1993, before jumping fifteen years forward to find Haller inheriting Vincent's caseload.
  • Internal Reveal: For the entire Harry Bosch universe. Readers of Connelly novels found out about Harry's biological father, Michael Haller Sr., way back in Bosch's second novel The Black Ice. So readers of the series knew about Mickey's relationship to Harry as soon as Mickey was introduced in The Lincoln Lawyer. But Mickey does not figure it out for himself until the end of this book.
  • Jury and Witness Tampering: It turns out that the reason why Walter Elliot is so confident of acquittal and is so insistent on the trial proceeding forthwith is that he has paid someone to assume the identity of a juror. This guarantees him at least one Not Guilty vote no matter what.
  • Laser-Guided Karma: Haller mentions that Barnett Woodson, the drug dealer who was guilty of murder but got an acquittal thanks to Haller back in 1993, got killed in a drive-by two months later.
  • Long-Lost Relative: The novel ends with Mickey figuring out that Detective Harry Bosch is actually his half-brother, the love child of J. Michael Haller Sr. The revelation leaves both men feeling awkward. (In later novels they form more of a bond.)
  • Narrator: Mickey Haller, as is the case with all of his novels.
  • Politically Incorrect Villain: Walter Elliot is guilty of the crime he is accused of. He also occasionally says he thought Johan Rilz was a "faggot". Mickey Lampshades the fact that this will not make him popular with a jury, and tells him if it comes up, to say he thought Rilz was "gay".
  • Real-Person Cameo: Dan Daly, a real lawyer who's mentioned in the acknowledgements at the end, appears as a minor character. Ditto Judith Champagne, a real judge.
  • The Sociopath: Haller is horrified when Elliot finally confesses to him, not because Elliot is guilty of a double murder, but because he seems proud of having committed a double murder. Elliot fondly recalls, "You should have seen the looks on their faces when they saw that big gun."
    Haller: He was cold to the bone.
  • This Is the Part Where...:
    Elliot: Is this the meeting where I tell you I didn’t do it and then you tell me that it doesn’t matter to you whether I did it or not?
  • Title Drop: "The brass verdict" refers to justice delivered by a gun.
  • Vigilante Execution: When it starts to look like Haller is going to win an acquittal for Walter Elliot, but only after he drags victim Johan Rilz through the mud, the Rilz family has Elliot killed.
  • You Just Told Me: Mickey Haller uncovers information in this way, getting Harry Bosch to inadvertently reveal whom he was questioning over the Jerry Vincent murder.