The Gods of Guilt

Gods of Guilt coverNovember is becoming one of my favorite times of the year because, here lately, it means a new Michael Connelly book. This year’s offering is The Gods of Guilt, a Mickey Haller novel (which I had to wait till recently—hence, this late reveiw).

For those of you who don’t know, Mickey Haller is a defense lawyer popularly known as The Lincoln Lawyer. If you’ve seen the movie, you know why, and if you haven’t, or haven’t read any of the books, here’s the dope: Mickey doesn’t have an office, per sé. He rides around in the back of a Lincoln Town Car, using a laptop, cell phone, and has a printer shelf rigged up on the front passenger seat. His reasoning for this is that it saves him overhead on an office building, and it saves him time. Mickey is a defense lawyer in Los Angeles, where court buildings are scattered over a large geographical area. So he needs a mobile office.

The Gods of Guilt is the fifth Mickey Haller novel, and they just keep getting better. The idea of the courtroom thriller doesn’t do much for me, as a rule. I’ve never read a John Grisham novel. I’ve had folks tell me I’m missing out, but I just can’t seem to drum up the interest in one. I’ve tried to start one several times, but none of them engage me when I pick them up to read the synopsis.

And, quite honestly, I was somewhat reluctant to start reading the Mickey Haller novels. But the second one, The Brass Verdict, also counts as a Harry Bosch novel, so I read it. But the main narrator is Mickey Haller (it gets a little confusing, as The Brass Verdict is apparently both a Mickey Haller and a Harry Bosch vehicle), with Bosch, Mr. Connelly’s LAPD homicide detective, working together. That got me interested in reading the rest of the Mickey Haller novels, and I’ve become a fan. They’re every bit as good as the Harry Bosch series, but from the other side of the coin.

The gods of guilt is the term Mickey’s lawyer father used to describe jurors—as they are the ones who decide innocence or guilt. The gods of guilt are also the ghosts Mickey carries around with him—but I’ll let you read the book(s) to know what that’s all about.

In The Gods of Guilt, Mickey gets a murder case. He likes murder cases because they tend to pay well. The client is a man name Andre La Cosse, and when Mickey asks how Andre got his name, he says he got it from a woman named Giselle Dallinger.

Here’s where things begin to get interesting. Andre says that Giselle told him if he ever got into trouble to call Mickey, because Mickey had gotten her out of trouble several times and he was the best. There are two problems here. One, Mickey doesn’t remember a client by that name and, two, Giselle is the person Andre is accused of murdering.

Turns out Andre is something of a digital pimp. He sets up clients for Giselle via a website called Since he’s not familiar with Giselle, after he has his initial meeting with Andre, Mickey looks up the website. Giselle turns out to be a woman he knew as Gloria Dayton—her working name back then was Glory Days—and he thought he’d gotten her out of the life.

The deeper he gets into the case, the more complicated—and dangerous—it becomes until it reaches all the way back ten years to the murders of a couple drug dealers in Glendale. Before it’s all over, the case will include the DEA and the LAPD, even a man who is part of the Sinaloa drug cartel and serving a life term in Victorville prison.

To be honest, the last Harry Bosch novel was a bit of a letdown for me, but Mr. Connelly has more than made up for it with The Gods of Guilt (in which Harry even has a cameo). If you like Grisham, pick up one of the Lincoln Lawyer novels—it’s a bit better if you read them in order to get the flow of Mickey’s life—and check them out. Critics say Mr. Connelly is better at this than Grisham, though I can’t judge that.

All I can say is The Gods of Guilt is a damn fine novel, and I recommend it highly.



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