Friday, September 19, 2014

book review: The Gods of Guilt by Michael Connelly

this review may contain spoilers from previous Mickey Haller novels

The backstory: The Gods of Guilt is the fifth Michael Connelly mystery to feature Los Angeles criminal defense attorney Mickey Haller. For my reviews of the previous novels (and all of Michael Connelly's novels), please see my Review Database.

The basics: Mickey Haller gets called to defend a man accused of murder. The victim, Gloria, a prostitute and former client of Mickey's, told him if anything ever happened to her, he should call Mickey. Gloria's death haunts Mickey, and as he prepares to defend her accused murdered, he also investigates her death and fears his own actions defending Gloria many years ago may have played a role in her death.

My thoughts: I've raced through all of Michael Connelly's novels this year. While I enjoy the Harry Bosch novels more than the Mickey Haller novels, Haller, like Bosch, is a fascinatingly flawed character. When we last left Haller, he was planning to run for D.A. Between books, his campaign crashed and burned when a drunk driver he got off on a technicality again drove drunk and killed a mother and daughter. To further complicate matters, the daughter went to school with Mickey's daughter, and his relationship with her, and her mother, is once again fractured. Mickey himself seems more broken.

The case at the center of this novel is a fascinating one. The story jumps several months at several times, to keep pace with the timing of the trial itself. I appreciated this insight into the pace of justice, but it meant that other storylines not related to the case were mostly absent. As is typical in Haller novels, there is a lot of time spent at trial and in the details of the trial, along with Mickey's explanations for why he's strategizing the way he is. While I enjoy the legal strategy, it makes the pace seem somewhat slow for a mystery.

Favorite passage:  "Your father always called the jurors the ‘gods of guilt.’ You remember that?” “Yep. Because they decide guilty or not guilty."

The verdict: The Gods of Guilt is a fascinating murder mystery combined with a compelling legal thriller. This combination works well, but the emphasis on the trial slows down the pace of the novel before the climax. Haller once again shines as a complicated, flawed antihero of sorts.

Rating: 4 out of 5
Length: 401 pages
Publication date: December 2, 2013
Source: library

Convinced? Treat yourself! Buy The Gods of Guilt from Amazon (Kindle edition.)

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