Los Angeles criminal defense attorney Mickey Haller regularly represents lowlifes, but he's no slickster trolling for loopholes in the ethics laws. He's haunted by how he mishandled the case of (probably innocent) Jesus Menendez, and, though twice divorced, he's on good terms with his ex-wives; one of them manages his office, and the other, an ambitious assistant DA, occasionally tumbles back into bed with him. When Mickey signs on to defend young real estate agent Louis Roulet against charges of assault, he can't help seeing dollar signs: Roulet's imperious mother will spend any amount to prove her beloved son's innocence. But probing the details of the case, Mickey and private investigator Raul Levin dig up a far darker picture of Roulet's personality and his past. Levin's murder and a new connection to the Menendez case make Mickey wonder if he's in over his head, and his defense of Roulet becomes a question of morality as well as a test of his own survival.