About Me

My photo
Melfort, Saskatchewan, Canada
I am a lawyer in Melfort, Saskatchewan, Canada who enjoys reading, especially mysteries. Since 2000 I have been writing personal book reviews. This blog includes my reviews, information on and interviews with authors and descriptions of mystery bookstores I have visited. I strive to review all Saskatchewan mysteries. Other Canadian mysteries are listed under the Rest of Canada. As a lawyer I am always interested in legal mysteries. I have a separate page for legal mysteries. Occasionally my reviews of legal mysteries comment on the legal reality of the mystery. You can follow the progression of my favourite authors with up to 15 reviews. Each year I select my favourites in "Bill's Best of ----". As well as current reviews I am posting reviews from 2000 to 2011. Below my most recent couple of posts are the posts of Saskatchewan mysteries I have reviewed alphabetically by author. If you only want a sentence or two description of the book and my recommendation when deciding whether to read the book look at the bold portion of the review. If you would like to email me the link to my email is on the profile page.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

The Gods of Guilt by Michael Connelly

The Gods of Guilt by Michael Connelly – It is a brilliant title for a legal mystery. I had never heard the phrase in the almost 40 years I have been a lawyer. I will appropriate it for future real life discussions of the power of jurors. L.A. lawyer, Mickey Haller, calls the jurors in a criminal trial the Gods of Guilt as they alone decide guilt. The police gather evidence. The prosecution provides the evidence against the accused. The defence counters. They judge provides interim orders and keeps the trial moving in court. Yet it is the jury which holds the accused’s future in their hands. The expression reminded of the story famed American lawyer, Gerry Spence, used several times with jurors of a young man holding the power of life or death for a bird in his hands to illustrate to the jury that make the choice whether to set free or imprison, sometimes kill, an accused.

Mickey’s life is a mess. He has lost the election for D.A. because a client he had successfully defended on a DUI, while drinking and driving again, kills two women in a car accident. His teenager daughter has estranged herself from him over the same accident unable to accept her father represents the guilty as well as the innocent.

Financially his modest firm, he is still operating out of the back seat of his Lincoln Town Car, is struggling as mortgage foreclosure work as eased with the gradual improvement in the California economy.

Mickey’s spirits are lifted, as they are for any defence lawyer, when his office gets a call from Andre La Cosse is in serious trouble and needs their representation. La Cosse has called from Men’s Central as he has been charged with the murder of a female escort, Giselle Dallinger. Nothing gets a defence lawyer adrenaline flowing faster than a call saying I need your help.

Mickey rushes to the county jail where he learns the slightly built La Cosse is a gay man carrying on a new variation of the world’s second oldest known profession. He is a digital pimp for Dallinger. He set up social media including websites and email needed by Dallinger to ply her trade. In return he takes a cut of her earnings.

He is accused of murdering Dallinger by strangulation after he believes she is holding out on money she should have received from a client she was to meet at the Beverley Hills Wilshire.

The new case has the office scrambling to find the time needed to defend La Cosse. Mickey says:

There is never just one case. There are always many. I liken the practice of law to the craft of some of the premier buskers seen working the crowds on the Venice boardwalk. There’s the man who spins plates on sticks, keeping a forest of china spinning with momentum and aloft at the same time. And there’s the man who juggles gas-powered chain saws, spinning them in the air in a precise manner so that he never shakes hands with the business end of the blades.

I am very familiar with spinning plates but fortunately have few chain saws to deal with in my practice.

Mickey is convinced La Cosse is not merely guilty, he is innocent. Practical as always he demands a substantial retainer of $25,000. Double that sum is paid through the delivery by armored truck of a kilo of gold.

While he does not have a formal office, in exchange for legal services, Mickey has a conference room in the loft of a building undergoing foreclosure proceedings,

Mickey is puzzled when La Cosse advises that Dallinger recommended that he retain Mickey if he was in trouble. Mickey does not recognize Dallinger’s name. The case becomes far more personal and considerably more complex when he realizes that Dallinger is the new identity for a former client, Gloria Dayton, better known professionally as Glory Days.

They had an ongoing relationship that ended when Mickey gave her enough money to end her career as a prostitute 7 years earlier. Having not heard from her Mickey thought she had escaped the profession. He is deeply saddened to learn she returned to being an escort.

As Mickey and his investigator, Cisco Wojciechowski, examine what happened in the hours before Dayton’s death they find details supporting La Cosse’s contention he did not kill her.

Even more startling information emerges when Mickey probes her past. He is shaken to learn how he has been used.

Mickey, to defend La Cosse, must take on multiple police agencies.

Much of the book deals with the preparation for trial. The actual trial portion of the book skips over the State’s evidence. It is an example of a master storyteller determining how best to maintain the flow of the plot.

As the trial moves to its conclusion the pace accelerates and I could hardly put the book down.

The lonely Mickey finds an unlikely love interest.

Connelly has written an excellent legal thriller / mystery. I do have a major issue with the opening which I will address in my next post. (Mar. 8/14)
Connelly, Michael – (2000) - Void Moon; (2001) - A Darkness More than Night; (2001) - The Concrete Blonde (Third best fiction of 2001); (2002) - Blood Work (The Best);  (2002) - City of Bones; (2003) - Lost Light; (2004) - The Narrows; (2005) - The Closers (Tied for 3rd best fiction of 2005); (2005) - The Lincoln Lawyer; (2007) - Echo Park; (2007) - The Overlook; (2008) - The Brass Verdict; (2009) – The Scarecrow; (2009) – Nine Dragons; (2011) - The Reversal; (2011) - The Fifth Witness; (2012) - The Drop; (2012) - Black Echo; (2012) - Harry Bosch: The First 20 Years; (2012) - The Black Box; (2014) - The Gods of Guilt; Hardcover 


  1. I can see this would be interesting to you, but you have also made it sound interesting to non-lawyers! Will look out for the 2nd post....

    1. Moira: Thanks for the comment. Michael Connelly is the best writer of legal fiction who is not a lawyer.

  2. Bill - Trust Michael Connelly to keep you turning pages! I'm so glad you enjoyed this one, and I look forward to your next post about it. And I am really looking forward to reading it myself.

    1. Margot: Thanks for the comment. I hope you get to read The Gods of Guilt. It is one of the best in the Mickey Haller series. I am glad the focus is Mickey rather than trying to tie together in the plot Mickey and Harry.

  3. I can't wait to read this one! The library has so many holds I'll wait forever, it seems. But once I get this book, am turning off the phone, getting snacks and going nowhere until the last page is read.

    And, so glad to hear you've never had to handle chain saws in your legal practice.

    1. Kathy D.: Thanks for the comment. I hope you get to read it sooner than later. It is a good book. I have had chain saw cases but, thankfully, not a group at one time.