Review of ‘The Gods of Guilt’ by Michael Connelly

The-Gods-of-GuiltMichael Connelly, The Gods of Guilt: A Lincoln Lawyer Novel (New York: Little Brown, 2013). Hardcover | Paperback | Kindle

Jurors are the gods of guilt in Mickey Haller’s world. They decree the fate of the accused. As this story opens, Haller feels as if his personal jurors have tried him in the balance and found him wanting. When his daughter’s friend is killed by a drunk driver—a client of Haller’s—she cuts off all contact with him. His burgeoning relationship with his ex-wife implodes. And he loses the election for Los Angeles district attorney.

When a murder case comes his way, Haller takes it. (What else is he supposed to do?) What begins as a relationship with paying client quickly becomes a desperate attempt to clear a wrongly accused man, get justice for a dead friend (who happens to be his client’s alleged victim, and put the real killer on the stand.

The Gods of Guilt is not the best novel in the Lincoln Lawyer series. That’s a bit like saying someone’s the second tallest starter on an NBA team, however. Michael Connelly is a great mystery writer, and I turned the pages on this one like I have on the previous ones—just not as fast. Still, this novel goes deeper in the psyche of Mickey Haller, giving us a window on his hopes and dreams, as well as his doubts and failures. What the story lacks in narrative punch, compared to the other novels, it makes up for in emotional pathos. The reader feels sorry for the downturn in Haller’s personal life, even as it cheers him on in the courtroom.


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Review of ‘The Reversal’ by Michael Connelly

The-ReversalMichael Connelly, The Reversal: A Lincoln Lawyer Novel (New York: Little Brown, 2009). Hardcover | Paperback | Kindle

When convicted child killer Jason Jessup’s life sentence is overturned by the California Supreme Court, Los Angeles criminal defense attorney Mickey Haller is recruited for the retrial of the case. This time, however, he’ll serve as an independent prosecutor trying to put Jessup back behind bars.

Joining Haller are Assistant District Attorney Margaret “Maggie McFierce” McPherson (his ex-wife) and Detective Hieronymous “Harry” Bosch (his half-brother). Twenty-four years after the killing, they have to track down reluctant witnesses and reconstruct the prosecution’s case in the face of DNA evidence that seems to exonerate Jessup. And they have to do it before Jessup—who’s out on bail—murders again.

There’s no whodunit here. We know who’s guilty. The only mystery is whether Haller, McPherson, and Bosch will be able to convict Jessup…and Michael Connelly keeps you guessing till the very end. Connelly is a great story-teller, and The Reversal is told in two voices. Haller’s story is told in the first person, while Bosch’s and McPherson’s are told in the third person. The chapter-by-chapter switch in point of view keeps readers engrossed and turning pages to see what’s happening next.

“Haller for the People.” It’s got a nice ring to it…


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Review of ‘The Lincoln Lawyer’ by Michael Connelly

The-Lincoln-LawyerMichael Connelly, The Lincoln Lawyer (New York: Grand Central, 2005). Hardcover | Paperback | Kindle

Michael “Mickey” Haller is a Los Angeles criminal defense lawyer who gives his clients the best defense they can afford…and he’d rather not know if they’re actually innocent of the crimes they’ve been accused of. He works out of the backseat of a Lincoln Town Car, chauffeured by a former client still working off his legal debts. Like his chauffeur, many of his clients are behind on payments or on payment programs that keep a steady but low stream of income flowing.

So, when Fernando Valenzuela—a bail bondsman, not the pitcher—tells Haller about a possible “franchise,” Haller’s interest is piqued. A franchise, in Haller’s world, is a client whose case goes to trial and results in large fees. In this case, the client is Louis Roulet, a wealthy Beverly Hills realtor who’s been accused of attempted murder. As Haller prepares Roulet’s defense, he comes face to face with actual innocence…and pure evil. To the very last pages, Michael Connelly keeps readers guessing whether Haller can clear his client and get the real criminal in the process.

Most people probably know this story from the movie staring Matthew McConaughey. The Lincoln Lawyer is a good movie, but trust me, it’s a better book. Connelly narrates the plot through Haller’s eyes and in his voice, giving us a window into our protagonist’s beliefs, doubts, hopes, and fears. Connelly is a world-class storyteller, so even the courtroom back-and-forthing is a page-turner. If you’ve ever sat on a jury, you’ll know how difficult a trick this is to pull off. If you’re anything like me, you’ll close the cover of this book ready to start the next book in this series. In case you’re wondering, it’s The Brass Verdict


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