03 April 2014

The Gods of Guilt, Michael Connelly

I do enjoy courtroom drama, particularly if it is as accurately observed as the Mickey Haller series by Michael Connelly. Of course to detect accuracy you first have to be familiar with the US judicial system. It is based on the British adversarial method but without the wigs, gowns and general pomp. Procedures are the same, examination, cross, redirect, re-examination, objections etc. Penalties can be a tad harsher though!

Connelly's ease at describing the subtle maneuvering within court scenes brings authenticity. He knows how many looks, facial expressions, nudges and even secret text messages don't catch the judge's attention. Despite what TV would have us believe, witnesses don't make uninterrupted speeches, lawyers can't bring unexpected witnesses or suddenly produced undisclosed evidence. It's his adherence to this realism yet ability to spring surprises which lifts Connelly's dramas well above the ordinary procedural.

The titular Gods of Guilt are the jury and here, while sitting on a murder case, they have to learn how it is connected to an earlier wrongful conviction. Defence Lawyer Haller expertly dismantles and connects both cases while simultaneously repairing his damaged home life, chasing a new girlfriend and trying to recover from a failed run for District Attorney. To be frank, the plot is somewhat weaker than previous outings and if not for the distractions, would have barely carried the book.
I love how Peter Giles reads the audiobook. His Mickey Haller is sincere, earnest, hardworking and utterly dependable. I might be in a minority but I disliked McConaughey in the title role of the Lincoln Lawyer. Too self opinionated, too brazen. I wanted to see the humility with which Connelly endows his character. So, I was delighted to hear 'my' Mickey Haller again even if this case wasn't his toughest.


Russell Duffy said...

Apart from Rumpole, I have read little in the courtroom drama genre. Very impressed by this review particularly for the depth of knowledge you have on the subject but also the integrity you maintain in summary.

Perfect Virgo said...

Thanks Russell. British TV allows too much licence with court drama. Real life trials can be mesmerising; lifting the lid on people's lives, secrets and motives within a tight framework of rules and etiquette.

As for knowledge, well I sat as a juror on a ten week case in the UK plus I've watched a few lengthy American cases online - they invariably televise their high-profile trials.

My recomendation would be Connelly's "The Lincoln Lawyer," a cleverly plotted story.