Connelly does what he does best, combining excellent courtroom drama with personal stories that go beneath the surface and bring his characters to life. Mickey Haller is still doing business out of the back seat of his Lincoln Town Car, and his employees include an ex-wife, her new husband, a chauffeur who owes him favors, and a newly-hired young lawyer with ambition. Haller himself is still that odd mixture of half selfish and half heart-of-gold that makes him an interesting character—the reader keeps rooting for the heart of gold side to win out.
Haller needs cases to pay the bills while he passes sleepless nights guilt-ridden over the deaths of two innocent people killed by a man Haller got acquitted on an earlier case. His daughter will have nothing to do with him, and he is feeling pretty low. He is hired to defend a man who has been running an on-line “escort” service, and was just arrested for the murder of one of his escorts. The dead woman turns out to be a prostitute for whom Haller had gone out on a limb years before, and whom he thought he had helped to leave the life behind and start anew. So Haller takes the case, as much for the victim as for the defendant, but the deeper he digs for evidence, the wider the dirt seems to extend into rather dangerous arenas involving prostitution, drugs and law-enforcement.
As usual, Connelly gives us very complicated plots which take concentration to follow in all their intricacies. He also offers us the kind of flawed personalities that draw us into their dramas, and he gives us brilliant courtroom drama, depicting everyone—the defense lawyers, the prosecutors, even the judges—as all too human. And he gives us “The Gods of Guilt,” as he dubs the 12-person jury which determines the fate of those on trial.
A negative note here: I have read a lot of Connelly’s novels, and this is the first one in which a few discordant notes were struck for me. His handling of Haller’s relationship to his daughter just didn’t work well, and Haller’s remorse over the death of Earl rang hollow. I got the sense that Connelly still hasn’t figured out just how damaged Haller’s personality is supposed to be. When he does, I think the series will get even better.