Written by Michael Connelly — Mickey Haller, the Lincoln Lawyer, gets a call. He’s been offered a case – defend a murder suspect who claims to be innocent. It couldn’t have come at a better time. Murders are revenue generators for lawyers and Mickey is down on his luck. The accused, Andre La Cosse is a ‘digital pimp’. He builds websites for prostitutes, then takes a cut of their earnings.
The victim is a Giselle Dallinger. The name is a mystery to Haller, but he soon learns that he used to know her. Eight years ago Haller thought he’d saved her from the life, successfully won a case and sent her from Los Angeles to Hawaii with some cash. As Haller begins to dig he realises quite how wrong he’d been. He becomes convinced that La Cosse has been set up and the guilty parties are the people who are supposed to be on the side of the angels. So Haller goes to court to prove wright from wrong.
The Gods of Guilt is the fifth in the Mickey Haller series, and an odd novel to assess. In parts it is excellent, and significant intrigue and tension are created by the author. The characters are strong, particularly Haller and his legal team. Haller himself approaches anti-hero status. He’s in a role the cops hate, defending the criminals they’re trying to put away. He has a bad reputation and his business has suffered. He’s estranged from his wife and daughter and lost a race for District Attorney. La Cosse is also good, particularly as the author puts him through the wringer and we see him shrivel up whilst in prison. The final chunk of the book is a court case where Haller draws the bad guys out whilst still learning the truth himself. It’s cleverly done.
However on several occasions the tempo just fizzles out, then has to be built up all over again. Although there’s no shortage of words some story strands feel under developed. For example Haller ends up in a relationship with an ex-prostitute which just happens, but then is of little relevance. Then there’s Haller. One minute he’s beating himself up over past events, then he’s positive and driven. Which is he?
There are other little niggles. There are a few references to the film The Lincoln Lawyer, based on the first book in the series, which seems a little indulgent. And surprisingly there are a number of mangled or jarring sentences. ‘I argued that what Forsythe called a stunt was merely a demonstration, not unlike the demonstration a week earlier when he asked the deputy medical examiner to demonstrate on Lankford,’ goes one. They say self-published books suffer bad editing, but a few things have slipped through here too. Finally, when Haller obtains some incredibly damning video evidence he doesn’t immediately reveal it. If he had done so the case would be closed, his client off the hook. This contrivance weakens the plot.
Overall the The Gods of Guilt is a decent book. In the parts where the plot is on form, it’s excellent, but unfortunately other issues drag it down, which is a pity.
CFL Rating: 3 Stars