Thursday, May 24, 2018
Books

Review: Defense attorney Mickey Haller faces consequences in Michael Connelly's "The Gods of Guilt"

The opening pages of The Gods of Guilt find Mickey Haller up to his old tricks — trying to undermine a witness' credibility on the stand and, when that doesn't work, staging a courtroom stunt aimed at getting a mistrial.

But Mickey, whom bestselling author Michael Connelly introduced in The Lincoln Lawyer in 2005, is not just a stereotypical ethics-challenged criminal defense attorney. In The Gods of Guilt, the fifth novel in the series about him (the first became a movie in 2011), he's grappling with the consequences of his actions in all kinds of ways.

One of them involves the case at the center of the book's plot, the murder of a prostitute named Gloria Dayton, a.k.a. Glory Days (and many other names). Dayton last appeared in The Lincoln Lawyer as a repeat client of Mickey's who became a special project of his: "For the last seven years I thought she had gotten away and that I had helped. She had taken the money I gave her and flown off to Hawaii, where she claimed there was a longtime client who wanted to take her in and help her start over."

No such luck. Dayton was back in Los Angeles working through an online escort service, and the man who wants to hire Mickey to defend him is her pimp, Andre La Cosse, who has been charged with killing her. Any hesitation Mickey might have about taking the case is quieted when La Cosse makes his first payment with a gold ingot worth more than $50,000.

Mickey gathers his team to dig into the case: Lorna, his sensible second ex-wife; Lorna's current husband, biker and crack investigator Cisco; Mickey's promising new associate, Jennifer Aronson; and Earl Briggs, his trusted driver. (The nickname "Lincoln lawyer" comes from Mickey's habit of running his practice out of his Lincoln Town Car instead of an office.)

Soon they focus on Dayton's ominous connections to a ruthless Sinaloa cartel drug dealer, Hector Moya, whom Dayton helped put in prison, and to James Marco, a high-powered DEA agent involved in Moya's case. And as their investigation gets closer to its mark, someone on Mickey's team pays a shocking toll.

Dayton's murder isn't the only death weighing on Mickey's mind. His teenage daughter, Hayley, has cut him out of her life after Mickey got a client who had been arrested for DUI out of jail on a technicality — and the client caused another accident in which Hayley's close friend and the friend's mother died. Connelly likes to construct titles for his books that can have several meanings, and those two victims are among the "gods of guilt" in this book.

The phrase was coined, though, by Mickey's father, a legendary defense attorney, to describe the jury, the ones who decide a criminal's fate. The Gods of Guilt moves swiftly to the courtroom, where, as in all of the Haller books, Connelly does a masterful job of creating and sustaining drama. Mickey narrates the books in first person, but he keeps some secrets even from the reader, so that there are surprises at every turn, not to mention a few major shocks even Mickey doesn't expect.

Mickey, as fans will know, is the half-brother of Connelly's greatest creation, homicide investigator Harry Bosch (who makes a very brief appearance in this book). Bosch's sense of justice is unbending, the driving force in his life — his personal credo is "Everybody counts or nobody counts." Mickey has a way to go before he develops his big brother's sense of integrity, but The Gods of Guilt is a fascinating step in that direction.

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Review: Family matters in David Sedaris’ ‘Calypso’

Review: Family matters in David Sedaris’ ‘Calypso’

David Sedaris gets right to the point in the opening of the first essay in his new book, Calypso: "Though there’s an industry built on telling you otherwise, there are few real joys to middle age. The only perk I can see is that, with luck, you’ll ac...
Published: 05/24/18
Review: Strait-laced writer Michael Pollan explores psychedelics, and leaves the door of perception ajar

Review: Strait-laced writer Michael Pollan explores psychedelics, and leaves the door of perception ajar

Microdosing is hot. If you haven’t heard — but you probably have, from reports of its use at Silicon Valley workplaces, from Ayelet Waldman’s memoir A Really Good Day, from dozens of news stories — to microdose is to take small amounts of LSD, which ...
Published: 05/24/18
Bancroft: Philip Roth deftly explored male lust, Jewish identity, American history and politics

Bancroft: Philip Roth deftly explored male lust, Jewish identity, American history and politics

Philip Roth, one of the most potent voices in American fiction, died Tuesday night of congestive heart failure in a New York City hospital. He was 85.Mr. Roth was the last man standing of a generation of fiction writers sometimes called "the great wh...
Published: 05/23/18

Events: Tarbell.org founder Wendell Potter to discuss, sign book

Book TalkTarbell.org founder Wendell Potter (Nation on the Take: How Big Money Corrupts Our Democracy and What We Can Do About It) will discuss and sign his book at 4 p.m. May 23 at the St. Petersburg Main Library, 3745 Ninth Ave. N.Applications are ...
Published: 05/21/18
The real stuff is how Tom Wolfe best used his write stuff

The real stuff is how Tom Wolfe best used his write stuff

Tom Wolfe’s best writing lifted real people into legend: car designers and astronauts and disciples of LSD. With that writing, Wolfe lifted himself into legend as well. The author of 16 books, including such bestsellers as The Right Stuff and ...
Published: 05/18/18
Review: In Stephen King’s ‘The Outsider,’ evil can’t be true but must be true

Review: In Stephen King’s ‘The Outsider,’ evil can’t be true but must be true

On a July day, Terry Maitland, one of the most popular men in Flint City, Okla. — high school English teacher, Little League coach, husband and father, recently named the town’s man of the year — attends a teachers convention in a city over an hour’s...
Published: 05/17/18

Events: Gilbert King to discuss ‘Beneath a Ruthless Sun’ at Inkwood in Tampa

Book TalkCutter Wood (Love and Death in the Sunshine State: The Story of a Crime) will discuss and sign his nonfiction book about a murder on Anna Maria Island at 6 p.m. May 14 at Bookstore1, 12 S Palm Ave., Sarasota.The Gulfport Historical Society p...
Published: 05/11/18
Notable: As Mother’s Day nears, these new books are timely

Notable: As Mother’s Day nears, these new books are timely

NotableMore about mothersFor Mother’s Day, three new books offer a range of takes on motherhood.Beauty in the Broken Places: A Memoir of Love, Faith, and Resilience (Random House) by Allison Pataki is a memoir by a novelist whose 30-year-old husband ...
Published: 05/11/18
Review: A criminal’s confession is just the beginning in Michael Koryta’s compelling ‘How It Happened’

Review: A criminal’s confession is just the beginning in Michael Koryta’s compelling ‘How It Happened’

It’s what every investigator hopes for: a tough case finally solved when one of the criminals confesses, providing solid details and even describing where the bodies are buried.Or, in Michael Koryta’s compelling new psychological thriller How It Happ...
Published: 05/10/18
Anthony Award nominees include Tampa’s Michael Connelly, Down & Out Books

Anthony Award nominees include Tampa’s Michael Connelly, Down & Out Books

When the World Mystery Convention, a.k.a. Bouchercon, takes place in St. Petersburg in September and hands out its coveted Anthony Awards, the Tampa Bay Area will be well represented among the nominees.The award nominees, announced May 9, include Tam...
Published: 05/09/18
Updated: 05/10/18