"The Fifth Witness" by Michael Connelly

The Southeast Book Club met to discuss The Fifth Witness by Michael Connelly.

Michael Haller is a crime lawyer struggling in recession-hit California to defend foreclosure victims from losing their homes. Haller decides to defend one of his foreclosure clients, Lisa Trammel, in a criminal matter. Trammel, a dismissed school teacher and foreclosure activist whose husband has deserted her and her young son, spends her time protesting what she considers unfair bank practices.  When her case manager at the bank managing her mortgage loan, a senior bank partner, is found murdered in the bank’s parking garage, Trammel becomes a suspect.

Book Club members empathized with the bad mortgage victims in the The Fifth Witness.  They also related Trammel’s experience to the current U.S. mortgage scandal in which the bundling and reselling of mortgage loans by the first lenders to third parties, often in a less-than-legal manner, causes grief to the home owners--many of whom should never have received the loan in the first place under their financial circumstances.

One of Michael Connelly’s themes--jobs--was also discussed as another cause of foreclosure because when mortgage holders find themselves jobless, they are unable to pay back the shark-like creditors.