”Everybody lies,” announces Mickey Haller, the narrator of Michael Connelly’s peachy new legal thriller, The Brass Verdict. ”Cops lie. Lawyers lie. Witnesses lie. The victims lie. A trial is a contest of lies.”

And Haller — the likable, morally challenged Los Angeles defense attorney Connelly introduced in his outstanding 2005 novel The Lincoln Lawyer — fancies himself an expert at manipulating such contests. Using the backseat of his Lincoln as a mobile legal office, he loves playing the game, finding that one lie ”you can grab onto and forge like hot iron into a sharpened blade” to break open a case.

Or at least he used to. As the novel begins, he’s just starting back to work, weary and fragile after a year spent kicking an addiction to pain pills, when a judge tells him he’s inherited all the cases left behind by a murdered colleague, Jerry Vincent. Among them: the splashy trial of Walter Elliot, a slimeball movie mogul accused of slaughtering his wife and her lover at a Malibu beach house. The case turns out to be even trickier than Mickey’s usual, as the accused remains unswervingly, mysteriously confident of his future acquittal.

While Mickey tries to figure out Elliot’s defense — as well as Elliot himself — his half brother Harry Bosch, the moody, difficult LAPD detective Connelly has been writing about since 1992, wants to track down Vincent’s shooter, who may now be gunning for Mickey. Distrustful of one another, and often working at cross purposes, Bosch and Mickey aren’t quite a team yet; the novel’s bifurcated action lacks the steamroller momentum that made Connelly?s previous books so compulsively readable. But there’s rich promise here for future collaborations: Although they present themselves as opposite numbers — Mickey’s a romantic, soulful sleazebag, Bosch a dour and abrasive loner — they’re brothers in more than just name. Each uses the tools of his trade, however unconventionally, to find the truth in Connelly’s Los Angeles, where everybody does, indeed, lie. B+

The Brass Verdict