In Michael Connelly's "The Gods of Guilt" (Little, Brown, 416 pages, $28, pub date Dec. 2), criminal defense lawyer Mickey Haller is not above courtroom theatrics. In fact, he embraces them. Haller spent years learning about how law was "like soft lead" — meant to be bent and molded. Most of his clients are probably guilty, but he doesn't much care. He'll do whatever it takes — staged courtroom fights, the "double-blind" move, a laundry list of old-school dirty tricks. This approach has left him beloved by few and detested by many, including most of the police force and, unfortunately, his family.

So when a case from his past returns to haunt him, and a defendant falls into his lap who might actually be innocent, Haller is initially at a loss. It takes sage advice from longtime advisor Legal Siegel to jolt him: "There is no more noble a cause on this planet than to stand for the wrongly accused," the old friend says, so don't screw up.

In the courtroom drama by bestselling author Michael Connelly, "The Gods of Guilt" are the jurors. But Heller is facing judgment from outside the courtroom, too. His relationship with his estranged daughter is so broken that he's reduced to watching her soccer practices from a trail-side overlook. In his daughter's eyes, the man who once defended "The Most Hated Man in America" has already been found guilty. Now, Haller can only wait for her to realize that the world isn't always black and white, that it is gray, "and the gray area was where her father dwelled."

"The Gods of Guilt" is Connelly's fifth legal thriller. The first, "The Lincoln Lawyer," was a smash hit that was turned into a popular movie starring Matthew McConaughey. Connelly has a gift for fast-paced drama, and isn't afraid to paint a warts-and-all portrait of his main character. When it comes to passing judgment on Haller's style of lawyering, Connelly will let the reader decide.

Event: Michael Connelly will speak at Talking Volumes at 7 p.m. Dec. 3 at the Fitzgerald Theater, 10 E. Exchange St., St. Paul. Tickets $25,

Colleen Kelly is the Star Tribune's mobile and social media editor.