The Gods of Guilt Review
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Unabridged Audible Audiobook: 11 hours, 49 minutes
Read by Peter Giles

There’s no denying that Michael Connelly can write a crime novel—whether he’s pushing Harry Bosch up against the darkest that human nature can offer or edging Mickey Haller, his Lincoln Lawyer, closer and closer to that line where law and morality become somewhat blurred. With The Gods of Guilt, Connelly once again has Mickey Haller straddling a dangerous border, where he risks his soul and reputation with a client, digital pimp Andre LaCosse, who’s accused of killing a prostitute named Giselle Dallinger. Mickey knew Giselle as Gloria Dayton when, years ago, he got her a plea deal for testifying against a Mexican drug lord. Mickey gave her some money to help her start a new life in Hawaii, and now he finds that she’s been murdered, and he’s accepted the accused as his client.

As with all of Connelly’s courtroom narratives, twists and turns abound as Haller, the defender of the scum of the earth, must keep one step ahead of the state’s prosecutors. While Haller is smart—and he always seems to have a sharp-edged rhetorical trick up his sleeve—his private life is pretty much a shambles as his demons close in around him.

The Gods of Guilt of the title are the jury members in the courtroom, for they are the ones who will finally pass judgment on the accused. But the metaphor plays out in Haller’s life, too, as he faces his daughter, Hayley, who won’t talk to him because she believes that he defends the corrupt and allows them to go free.

Meanwhile, the author keeps his rebellious lawyer’s plate stacked, mixing in a corrupt DEA agent, a questionable private investigator who’s working for the prosecution, uncooperative witnesses, and even the tragic death of a team member. However, these charged events are tempered with some nice, human moments, too, as Haller watches his daughter play soccer and laments her absence from his life or waits impatiently for her to answer his texts. None of these episodes are too maudlin, thankfully, but they do allow the reader a respite before Haller is inevitably swept back into the case.

Connelly’s sharp yet unpretentious prose pulls the reader in, making sure that all of the narrative layers and lawyer-talk are presented in a fashion that both readers and the jury can understand and consider. My only grumble here is that sometimes this attempt to present complicated information is handled as repetition, with Mickey (or one of his team members) reiterating events or sequences as if talking to a child. But these moments are few and far between. I took them to represent the characters as they verbally try to work out complicated ideas. I do this all the time, so why not Haller and company?

Narrator Peter Giles, with his deep-toned voice, does a great job of capturing Haller’s world-weary attitude and contributes effectively to Connelly’ s storytelling. Voice and performance can make or break a good book, and here Giles makes it, pulling out Haller’s frustration and pathos with expert ease and rhythm.

The Lincoln Lawyer novels make for great reading—and, in this case, listening—but how long can they go on? I love Connelly’s books, but the formula is nothing new, and they’re starting to sound like any old John Grisham narrative. It’s the law of diminishing returns. Having said that, though, Connelly is an expert storyteller, and I’ll continue to read these novels for as long as I feel entertained.

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