Guest Blogger: Michael Connelly Tells the Back Story of The Lincoln Lawyer
Michael Connelly is the best-selling author of numerous crime novels, including the #1 New York Times bestsellers The Scarecrow and The Lincoln Lawyer. He has won almost every major award offered in the mystery/crime/thriller genres. Publishers Weekly has called him "today's Dostoevsky of crime literature."
Ten years ago I went to a baseball game in Los Angeles to watch the start of another season of Dodgers baseball. I came away from the game with an idea for a book that has now become the equivalent for me of a grand slam. I feel like I am rounding the bases, wondering, “Did I really hit that out, or is this just a dream?”
At that game in April 2001 I was sat next to a man I didn’t know. But it being the beginning of the season and hope for our team was still thick in the air, I was cordial. He was cordial. Between pitches we talked. Who are you, where do you come from, what do you do?
He was a lawyer. A criminal defense lawyer. When I asked him where his office was, he gave me an answer that I can now say changed my life. He said he worked out of his car.
He was quick to add to that response that he did so by choice and necessity, not because he was a threadbare lawyer who could not afford an office. No, he insisted that this was the best way to practice the law in L.A. In the land of freeways and cars and horizontal urban spread, mobility was king. There are forty courthouses in L.A. County and he wasn’t anchored by an office to any of them. He could go anywhere. Have case, will travel. He offered a client a discount on his fees if the client did the driving. And he did his work while they moved from courthouse to courthouse.
I don’t remember the score of the game. I don’t even remember who the Dodgers played or who won or lost. I just remember that I had been struck by the lightning of inspiration. Serendipity had dropped an idea into my lap like a homerun ball. I instinctively knew that this was a character and a book. At least one book, maybe more.
From that chance meeting and conversation came The Lincoln Lawyer in 2005, a novel that introduced Mickey Haller, the scrambling criminal defense specialist who works out of the back seat of a Lincoln Town Car (license plate: NT GLTY). That book was followed by The Brass Verdict in 2008 and The Reversal last year. In the next few weeks the film of The Lincoln Lawyer will premier followed by the fourth Haller book, The Fifth Witness (license plate: IWALKEM).
The film is very well done with Matthew McConaughey as Mickey Haller. I could not be happier with it. The filmmakers have captured the essence of Haller, his cohorts and the gritty world he glides through in his Lincoln. I’m pretty happy with The Fifth Witness, too. It puts Mickey back in the Lincoln and at his scrambling and scheming best.
It’s been a ten-year journey, riding in the Lincoln with this character. I’ve grown to love the way he looks at the world and his own sense of integrity and right and wrong. I’m hoping there is plenty of gas in the Lincoln’s tank and we have many more journeys to go.
-- Michael Connelly