Mrs. Pena looked across the seat at me and held her hands up in a beseeching manner. She spoke in a heavy accent, choosing English to make her final pitch directly to me.
“Please, you help me, Mr. Mickey?”
I looked at Rojas, who was turned around in the front seat even though I didn’t need him to translate. I then looked past Mrs. Pena, over her shoulder and through the car window, to the home she desperately wanted to hold on to. It was a bleached pink, two-bedroom house with a hardscrabble yard behind a wire fence. The concrete step to the front stoop had graffiti sprayed across it, indecipherable except for the number 13. It wasn’t the address. It was a pledge of allegiance.
My eyes finally came back to her. She was forty-four years old and attractive in a worn sort of way. She was the single mother of three teenage boys and had not paid her mortgage in nine months. Now the bank had foreclosed and was moving in to sell the house out from under her.
The auction would take place in three days. It didn’t matter that the house was worth little or that it sat in a gang-infested neighborhood in South L.A. Somebody would buy it, and Mrs. Pena would become a renter instead of an owner — that is, if the new owner didn’t evict her. For years she had relied on the protection of the Florencia 13. But times were different. No gang allegiance could help her now. She needed a lawyer. She needed me.
“Tell her I will try my best,” I said. “Tell her I am pretty certain I will be able to stop the auction and challenge the validity of the foreclosure. It will at least slow things down. It will give us time to work up a long-range plan. Maybe get her back on her feet.”
I nodded and waited while Rojas translated. I had been using Rojas as my driver and interpreter ever since I had bought the advertising package on the Spanish radio stations.
I felt the cell phone in my pocket vibrate. My upper thigh read this as a text message as opposed to an actual phone call, which had a longer vibration. Either way I ignored it. When Rojas completed the translation, I jumped in before Mrs. Pena could respond.
“Tell her that she has to understand that this isn’t a solution to her problems. I can delay things and we can negotiate with her bank. But I am not promising that she won’t lose the house. In fact, she’s already lost the house. I’m going to get it back but then she’ll still have to face the bank.”
Rojas translated, making hand gestures where I had not. The truth was that Mrs. Pena would have to leave eventually. It was just a question of how far she wanted me to take it. Personal bankruptcy would tack another year onto foreclosure defense. But she didn’t have to decide that now.
Excerpted from the book The Fifth Witness by Michael Connelly. Copyright © 2011 by Hieronymus, Inc. Reprinted with permission of Little, Brown and Company, New York, NY. All rights reserved.
L.A. defense attorney Mickey Haller has fallen on tough times. Now he’s trying something new: expanding his business into foreclosure defense. He never expects that one of his clients will be charged with murder!
Lisa Trammel is accused of killing her banker for trying to take away her home, and even though the evidence and his own suspicions tell him his client is guilty, Mickey throws his team into high gear to exonerate her. But soon after he learns that the victim had black-market dealings of his own, Haller is assaulted, too—and he’s certain he’s on the right trail.
Despite the danger and uncertainty, Haller mounts the best defense of his career. But this case is full of surprises—the last of which comes after the verdict is in!
Hardcover Book : 432 pages
Publisher: Hachette Book Group Usa ( April 05, 2011 )
Item #: 13-349429
Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 8.25 x 0.97inches
Product Weight: 16.0 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
Very well-written and that is why Connelly remains one of my favorite authors. A definite must-read. Great plot, great twists and turns and a... good ending! What else could you want?
I've read them all, Lescroart, Patterson, Deaver, Kellerman but Connelly tops them all. He's unbelievably believable and consistent with suspense and twists. A great read, too, as usual. You can depend on Connelly to make a page turner out of you. My favorite is The Brass Verdict, but this one's definitely a winner.
This book is so well written, the suspense is mind blowing.....I enjoyed every page!!!!!
Reviewer: Avid R
This is one of Patterson's better books. But wait till you read some of his 'Harry Bosch' novels! Guess who's Harry's biological father is? I won't tell you, but his initials are M.H.!!!
While the story starts off a little slow, this book more than makes up for it by adding unexpected changes in direction. The legal proceedings, especially involving the courtroom dialogue got me to wonder where he got his legal training. He's a former journalist who has picked up so much about the law and the subtleties of the system that make me think he went back to law school. It's that good.
All in all, a delightful read. I look always look forward to all of Connelly's books and will now really look forward to whether or not Mickey actually pursues a new career opportunity.