“The Gods of Guilt” by Michael Connelly (Little, Brown & Co., 400 pages, in stores)
Things are not going well for sedan-riding defense attorney Mickey Haller in Michael Connelly's latest, “The Gods of Guilt.” Haller's ambitious run for district attorney of Los Angeles ended poorly, as did his relationship with his ex-wife and teenage daughter. That means Haller (“The Lincoln Lawyer”) has nothing to do but focus on his career as a struggling defense attorney. The always hustling Haller gets a tip about a murder case, with a surprise. The victim turns out to be a former client, a prostitute whom Haller had helped relocate to Hawaii to start a new life. Haller quickly learns his memories of the woman he knew as Gloria Dayton do not match up to reality, but he is certain his new client is not guilty of killing her. In the end though, Haller must trust his client's fate to the gods of guilt, his nickname for the jury that will decide the murder case.
“The October List” by Jeffrey Deaver (Grand Central Publishing, 320 pages, in stores)
This cannot have been an easy book to write, even for a consummate professional like Jeffrey Deaver. “The October List” — one of Kirkus Reviews' Best Books of 2013 — starts where most books end, then moves through time to the beginning of the story. It takes a while to get drawn into Gabriela McKenzie's frenzied quest to recover her kidnapped daughter because the format is so unfamiliar, but Deaver skillfully patches together a compelling story that is filled with his trademark twists. The novel-in-reverse model doesn't leave room to flesh out a lot of the story's details, but it is nonetheless an absorbing read.
“Never Go Back: A Jack Reacher Novel” by Lee Child (Delacorte Press, 416 pages, in stores)
Jack Reacher spent the better part of three books traveling cross country to ask a woman he's never met to go to dinner with him. The woman is the commanding officer of Reacher's old military police unit, but she isn't in her office when he arrives in this novel at the unit's headquarters outside Washington, D.C. Instead Reacher finds she's been arrested on unknown charges. He soon finds himself behind bars, accused of fatally injuring a suspect in a long-ago confrontation he doesn't even remember. Reacher also learns he may have a teenage daughter with a woman he knew when he was stationed in South Korea. Reacher, fiction's ultimate alpha male, is not the type to sit around and wait for his two appointed lawyers to sort things out, so he engineers a jail break to embark on a cross-country search for the truth. The conspiracy at the heart of Reacher's plight is not exactly memorable, but Reacher's methodical march through every obstacle in his path is well worth your time.