There are a lot of book series built around defense lawyers, but few of the characters have resonated with readers in the same way as Michael Connelly’s Mickey Haller. This lawyer is written with a distinctive style that manages to successfully straddle the line between sentimental and hard-boiled.
Without an office, he works out of his Lincoln automobile, parking outside of various Starbucks in order to stay close to their coffee as well as their free wi-fi.
In the latest book, Haller gets pulled into a case when one of his former clients turns up dead. He is drawn into the case, even as he tackles personal problems difficult enough to distract anyone.
Twice-divorced, Heller is estranged from his 16-yr-old daughter Hayley, who refuses to talk to him after he successfully defended a drunk driver who killed a mother and daughter. That case also scuttled his campaign for Los Angeles District attorney. So, as he ponders the facts of this latest mystery, he’s also stuck secretly watching Hayley’s soccer practice through binoculars.
Haller is one of those defense lawyers who is unable to ignore an injustice, but is also not above doing whatever legal shenanigans it takes to defend his client. And some of his clients are not exactly the pillars of their community. His client list ranges from a cyber-pimp to a man accused of running a charity con, and those are some of his least objectionable cases.
But he tackles each case with the same vigor, and that moral ambiguity is what has made him such a compelling character. However, it’s also the part of his personality that gets him in trouble as The Gods of Guilt unfolds.
This time around he’s defending a murderer, and the victim turns out to be Gloria Dayton, a prostitute Haller tried to save from the life back in the first book of this series. How he handles that moral challenge is nearly as exciting as the series of courtroom tricks he rolls out in an effort to win at all costs.
There are a couple of nods in the book to Haller’s real-life notoriety. The 2011 Matthew McConaughey film, The Lincoln Lawyer, was based on this series of books, so it’s funny to hear him complain about the growing number of L.A. lawyers working out of their cars. He also has a brief scene with his half-brother Detective Harry Bosch, who is also featured in his own set of Connelly novels.
But as much as The Gods of Guilt is about the law and this specific case, it’s also about Haller’s efforts to become the man that he wants to be. He is self-aware enough to recognize his moral failings, even if he can’t always rise above them. So in this book – like the previous four in the series – Haller struggles to be a better man. Not just because he wouldn’t mind having a better quality of client, but because he wants his daughter to be proud of her father, despite his profession.
The Gods of Guilt is the latest in a string of wonderful books written by Connelly, and whether you’re already familiar with Mickey Haller and meeting him for the first time, you’re going to love this book.