Friday, January 3, 2014


The Gods of Guilt by Michael Connelly (Allen & Unwin, 2013)

Reviewed by Craig Sisterson

I've been a fan of Connelly for a long time, since first reading THE POET more than a decade ago, and believe he is consistently one of the better crime writers out there, with his excellent and ever-evolving Harry Bosch series. However, I am not such a fan I wouldn't note his lesser offerings (eg I thought NINE DRAGONS, while intriguing with its new Hong Kong setting etc, wasn't up to his usual top-quality standards in terms of dialogue etc. An enjoyable read, rather than an example of him at his best, as I said in a review). 

One of the many great things about Connelly as an author is the way he continually looks to push himself, and evolve his characters over time. After establishing his credentials with the Harry Bosch series, he dove into legal thrillers when in THE LINCOLN LAWYER he introduced Mickey Haller - a low-flying defence lawyer who games the system to advantage his petty criminal clients (you can read more about the creation of Haller in my New Zealand Herald interview with Connelly here).

In recent years, Connelly has switched between Haller and Bosch as protagonists, and his latest tale, THE GODS OF GUILT, sees the return of the defence attorney. This time Haller is hauled into a new murder case by a personal connection: the victim, a working girl Haller thought he’d saved from the life years ago, gave the attorney’s details to the accused killer, her online pimp, who contacts Haller when he's arrested.

Conflicted by his own guilt over prior cases and a broken relationship with his teenage daughter, Haller strives to prove his client’s innocence. Or at least raise reasonable doubt in the minds of the jury, the ‘gods of guilt’. The case gets darker and more complex as Haller strives to save himself as well as his client - can he do so, or are they both doomed by their prior acts? 

Connelly weaves a compelling tale that is as much about the fascinating figure of Haller as its twisting plotline. A courtroom thriller that engages and makes you think, not just about whodunit. There are some nice surprises, in character and plot, and the pacing is very good. A great read. Highly recommended. 


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