Connelly, Michael. The Gods of Guilt.

NY: Little Brown, 2013.

Connelly has generally been a very good writer of crime thrillers for several decades, but sometimes he seems to get a little lazy. It’s happened in a couple of the otherwise successful Harry Bosch novels, it happened in the two previous “Lincoln lawyer” episodes — The Reversal (2010) and The Fifth Witness (2011) — and, yes, it happens again here.

Los Angeles defense attorney Mickey Haller became famous for not bothering to maintain a law office, just doing all his work out of the back of a Lincoln town car while his chauffeur drives him from one courthouse to another around the county. (They even made a movie about that, he says, and now other lawyers are doing the same thing and he can’t tell which Lincoln at the curb is his anymore. That’s a weird sort of real-world crossover.) Finances are tight these days, so Haller is pleased to pick up a murder case on referral, because those are the ones that pay the bills. But then he discovers that the victim is a hooker whom he had befriended some years before and tried to help get out of the life. That’s a conflict of interest but, of course, that won’t stop Mickey. The accused is a sort of techie-pimp, the guy who designs and manages websites for a group of “escorts,” and while what he does is illegal, he’s simply not a violent person (besides being gay, which the author seems to have thrown in just for the hell of it). Haller and his investigator (who is married to his office manager — if he had an office — who was Haller’s own second wife) start digging into the case and evidence turns up that leads him to think the DEA is involved, plus a couple of other people who are supposed to be enforcing the law, not perverting it.

I can’t go much farther than that without giving away major plot points — but I will say that I considered several times just quitting partway through. Connelly seems to have padded the narrative by having Haller explain the case, in detail, to each person on his team, individually. This happens over and over. Like he wants to make sure the reader gets it. There’s also a subplot involving his daughter (who is living with her mother, his first wife, and whom he doesn’t see very often), who is presently not speaking to him because one of his previous DUI clients got off and then went out and killed someone while drunk. Connelly just tosses this out there in a way that suggests it was the meat of an earlier book — but I’ve never seen it, and I’ve read all of the author’s books. It gave me an uneasy feeling of having missed something when I’m pretty sure I haven’t. Anyway, simply referring offhandedly to a thread of the plot without actually developing it is the lazy way out. I think maybe it’s time for Connelly to retire before he does real damage to his reputation.

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Published in: on 11 May 2014 at 4:07 am  Leave a Comment  
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