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the gods of guilt

18 august 2016

The Gods of Guilt has a good story idea, and some appealing characters and interactions among them, but the plot mechanism bogs down, and the whole contraption shuts up with a bang and a clatter at the end in an unsatisfying way.

Mickey Haller, the Lincoln Lawyer, is one one of the downturns of his oscillating career. Defeated in a campaign for the office of District Attorney, he has no money in the bank and is down to one Lincoln. His daughter isn't speaking to him, he's single as usual, and in fact all he really has going for him is that Matthew McConaughey has played him in a movie – but since every other male lawyer in a Lincoln claims that he's the real model for the character, even that isn't getting him much of anywhere.

Mickey takes on the defense of a man accused of murder. Mickey was recommended to the defendant by the victim. Perhaps not so unusual – the dead woman was a prostitute and former client of Mickey's, and the defendant was her pimp – but Mickey eventually realizes that the referral was not a general testament to his legal skills, but a message from beyond the grave: a signal not only that his client is innocent, but that even greater wrongs than the false accusation need redressing.

As I said, this promising premise bogs down – in meetings, actually, the bane of quite a few crime novels. Meeting succeeds meeting and even Mickey realizes at one point "the possibility that I had simply lost everyone on one of the turns of the convoluted tale I was spinning" (154). Add to this a dramatic twist surprise courtroom finale that would strain the credulity of Perry Mason, and you've got … well, even at their weakest, you've got an acceptable airplane read in one of Michael Connelly's novels.

Connelly, Michael. The Gods of Guilt. New York: Little, Brown, 2013. PS 3553 .O51165G83