Book review: ‘The Gods of Guilt’

Michael Connelly, author of “The Gods of Guilt"

Mark DeLong

Michael Connelly, famed for his Harry Bosch LAPD procedurals, switches to his other ongoing series, centering on lawyer Mickey Haller.

Michael Connelly jumped genres in 2005. Best known, in fact revered, for his police procedurals starring LAPD Detective Harry Bosch, Connelly started writing legal thrillers right in John Grisham’s backyard.

“The Lincoln Lawyer” was a fabulous one-off, establishing Mickey Haller — a defense attorney who worked out of the back of his car — as a memorable character. Matthew McConaughey made fine work of the role in the same-name movie.

But a good book, and great character, doesn’t necessarily play long. In fact, a stellar debut can set the bar too high for a series. Grisham and Scott Turow usually change protagonists with each novel.

“The Gods of Guilt” focuses on Mickey Haller's defense of a cyber-pimp accused of murder.

“The Gods of Guilt” focuses on Mickey Haller’s defense of a cyber-pimp accused of murder.

So five novels into the Haller saga, with the new book, “The Gods of Guilt,” it’s fair to ask how the series is working out.

The answer is, really, really well.

Haller’s personal circumstances are as intriguing as ever. His run for Los Angeles District Attorney flamed out after a drunk driver he got off on a technicality killed a mother and daughter. The girl was a classmate of Haller’s 16-year-old daughter, who lives with her mother and no longer speaks to him. She has only disdain for her father’s clients and, now, for him.

David Letterman and satirist Bruce McCall collaborated on “This Land Was Made for You and Me (But Mostly Me): Billionaires in the Wild.”

David Letterman and satirist Bruce McCall collaborated on “This Land Was Made for You and Me (But Mostly Me): Billionaires in the Wild.”

Haller certainly represents the lower than low. One of his clients was arrested running a charity con, purporting to collect money for the funeral expenses of a child murdered in a Connecticut school tragedy. When cyber-pimp Andre La Cosse makes a jailhouse call demanding representation in a murder case, Haller seizes the opportunity to make a bold career move by defending an innocent man.

It’s a case that harks back to the first book. When the true identity of the victim is revealed, it turns out she is Gloria Dayton, a prostitute Haller tried to save from the life back when. In a series of stoked moves, Haller mounts a case that plays out in riveting courtroom drama.

The ultimate suspense, though, is whether Haller can finally become the kind of man he can live with. That’s a feat for anyone, but particularly so for a lawyer who’s reduced to looking for redemption by defending someone who facilitates hookups for whores online.

Legendary anchorman Ron Burgundy (aka Will Ferrell) tells all in “Let Me Off at the Top! My Classy Life and Other Musings.”

Legendary anchorman Ron Burgundy (aka Will Ferrell) tells all in “Let Me Off at the Top! My Classy Life and Other Musings.”

In this book, Connelly certainly sets himself a challenge. And he meets it.

FOR YOUR CONSIDERATION

Gillian Fetlocks spoofs the beloved PBS drama in “Downtrodden Abbey: The Interminable Saga of an Insufferable Family."

Gillian Fetlocks spoofs the beloved PBS drama in “Downtrodden Abbey: The Interminable Saga of an Insufferable Family.”

“This Land Was Made for You and Me (But Mostly Me): Billionaires in the Wild” by Bruce McCall and David Letterman
The New Yorker satirist and the CBS late-night host collaborate on a picture book with lots of words making wicked fun of the millennial breed of billionaires and their trophy projects. There’s the mogul who has the top on Mount Everest chopped off and planted on his Park Ave. terrace. And so on …

Let Me Off at the Top! My Classy Life and Other Musings” by Ron Burgundy
The, uh, intrepid San Diego newscaster played by Will Ferrell will return to the big screen Dec. 20 in “Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues.” But first comes this book in which Burgundy reveals, among other things, such thoughts as, “Our babies have gotten uglier,” and the sage words his father sent into him into the world with: “Ron, sometimes people don’t want the truth. They just want the news.”

“Downtrodden Abbey: The Interminable Saga of an Insufferable Family” by Gillian Fetlocks
In this “Downton Abbey” parody, Cousin Isabich and her son, Atchew, arrive at the manor after the legitimate heir to Downtrodden Abbey goes down with the Gigantic. The aristocratic Crawfishes and their three daughters, Marry, Supple and Enid, are greatly disturbed. Much melodrama ensues. At it should. (Season 4 of “Downton” debuts Sunday, Jan. 5.)

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