I have always enjoyed the Mickey Haller series in spite of itself. I am not especially endeared to defense attorneys philosophically, so it’s been a bit of a leap for me to cheer for one. Michael Connelly’s talent is such that he bridges the chasm without sacrificing any of the realistic elements that go with the territory. Yes, I said “realistic” in describing a series about an attorney whose office is the back seat of a Lincoln. I’ve known attorneys who operated out of motor homes and one gent who, in the 1970s, ran his personal injury practice out of his hat. True.
Accordingly, Connelly’s “Lincoln Lawyer” isn’t much of a stretch, a state of affairs to which Haller himself gives a wink and a nod near the beginning of THE GODS OF GUILT when he notes that he has picked up a couple of imitators as the result of a hit movie about his practice. It’s a rare moment of levity in a book full of dark moments.
"THE GODS OF GUILT certainly stands tall on its own merits as one of Connelly’s better books, full of twists and turns and one VERY unexpected incident that will reverberate in readers’ thoughts long after the last page is read."
Things get rolling when Haller receives a text that connects him with a client accused of murder. Those cases are potentially Haller’s most lucrative, and the client --- Andre La Cosse, an Internet pimp (I kid you not) --- actually has the ability to pay Haller’s considerable retainer against his even more considerable hourly rate. La Cosse is accused of murdering a prostitute named Giselle Dallinger and robustly maintains his innocence. Haller has been there before, but this one is a bit different. First of all, La Cosse appears to be the victim of a frame-up, one that has far-reaching repercussions on both sides of the law. For another, the case has some painful and personal repercussions as well. Dallinger turns out to be a former client of Haller’s, someone who he thought he had assisted in successfully rehabilitating and moving to Hawaii to begin a new life.
As Haller’s investigation follows the twists and turns of Dallinger’s life, from when he represented her --- several years before, when she used the name Gloria Dayton --- to her violent death in a La Brea apartment, Haller comes to the realization that he had been played, both during and after his representation of the woman, and that his current representation of La Cosse may be putting him in the crosshairs of significant danger.
As readers of the Lincoln Lawyer books well know, Haller is successful in part because of his brashness and boldness. Perhaps, however, he takes his tendencies in this regard a step too far, and tragic consequences result that have a permanent effect upon him and his team. If anything, the loss makes him more determined than ever to see La Cosse’s case through to the end. During the course of an electrifying trial, he experiences a series of twists and turns that break new ground for him and may well take the series in a different direction.
Long-time fans of Connelly’s work will be pleased to know that Harry Bosch makes a cameo appearance that highlights, however briefly, the similarities and differences between Haller and his formerly long-lost half-brother. There is also a mystery that remains unsolved at the close of the book that, at some point down the literary road, may give the siblings cause to pool their respective skill sets, if not join forces. However, THE GODS OF GUILT certainly stands tall on its own merits as one of Connelly’s better books, full of twists and turns and one VERY unexpected incident that will reverberate in readers’ thoughts long after the last page is read.
Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub on December 6, 2013