Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Marcia Clark: Guilt By Association

In her debut novel former prosecutor Marcia Clark, brings to the front to age old question are things always what they seem and just because you know someone does that make you guilty too?

Rachel Knight is one of the top D.A. Prosecutors in the L.A. and she hates to loose a case. She has been in the D.A. office for years now and has formed friendships with her fellow prosecutors, but something tragic is about to happen to the office. One of Rachel's coworkers is dead and it looks like a murder suicide with her coworker looking like the murderer. If that is not enough, the event involves the victim being a young teen. Evidence is pointing towards Rachel's friend having a very shady side outside of work and taking advantage of disadvantage youth. Rachel finds herself questioning who her friend really was and if he was capable of such things. Rachel wants to get to bottom of her friend's death, but she is also handed his toughest case of the sexual assault of a young woman who is part of the prominent family. The father states he knows who the offender is, but Rachel has a funny feeling about this case too. Rachel struggles to focus on her cases and her friend's death, but there is someone who does not want Rachel to find the truth and as bullets start to fly, Rachel needs to figure which case someone is willing to kill her over.

Clark should know a thing or two about working as a district attorney as she was the prosecutor in the O.J. Simpson trail, therefore, when she writes about lawyers and case loads and what happens in the D.A. office I would say that she know what she is talking about. So we know that Clark has the background to write a mystery book (some people may classify this book as a thriller but i do not think it has the suspense and action that is associated with the thriller genre) but can she actually write? Yes she she can, for a debut novel, I felt that there were many of the key aspects needed within a mystery novel that Clark was able to hit. There were twist, turns and I really enjoyed how Clark had the plot unfold in this book. I think that she did a really good job in showing the actual process of an investigation and how evidence is discover and followed by an investigator. I like that evidence did not just fall into Rachel's lap and that she has set backs and dead ends through out the book.

I liked Rachel as a character, she has some attitude but I appreciated that she was able to keep some of her retorts and thoughts in her head and not always make some snappy or snide comment. There was actually a filter and it showed that she actually thought before she spoke, which is a change from some other strong female protagonists. This, to me, showed that Rachel to be a little bit more sophisticated and intelligence than those other typical female protagonists. I enjoyed that Rachel had the ability to ask for help when she needed it and was able to take advice from other. I also liked that Clark allowed Rachel to have access to her friends who are willing to help her as well as having her friends discover some of the evidence and not making Rachel out to be extra ordinary. I think all these aspects made Rachel a very real character.

The one aspect I questions in this book is the investigative powers of a DA. It seemed to me that Rachel was running a police investigation for Baily (her police friend). I think it would have been more believable if Baily had been the main character and relied on Rachel for law knowledge and contacts that she has made through being a lawyer. However, this fact did not detract from my overall enjoyment of the book. Additionally, I'm not normally one to critique covers, but this one is really lacking, there is nothing there to draw someone to pick the book up other that Clark's name and if you don't know who she is there is really nothing that says "Pick Me". I think that in the future Clark needs to rethink the cover art for her novel, especially because I enjoyed this book.

I really enjoyed Clark's venture into fiction writing and I think that those looking for a good mystery book (that is not littered with bodies and more about a more "typical" investigation) should pick up Clark's debut novel. This book is fairly fast past and was able to keep me entertained throughout and even guessing what was going to happen next. I think that Clark may have just found her second calling. I look forward to reading another book by Clark.

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  1. I love Connelly and your review has sparked my interest in Clark. Adding to my pile.

  2. Hi Kimba,
    When you get a chance to read it you will have to let me know what you think.
    Thanks for stopping by :)

  3. J-9
    Thank you so much for this great review. I really appreciate it! And you raise a valid point about the unusual fact that lead character, prosecutor Rachel Knight, is so involved in the guidance of the investigation. So I wanted to let you know that this is based on reality.

    Rachel is a prosecutor in the Special Trials Unit in the Los Angeles D.A.'s office. When I was a prosecutor, I spent ten years in that unit (which is much bigger and is now called Major Crimes). The Special Trials Unit was a small cadre of prosecutors who handled all of the most high profile, complex cases. The prosecutors in that unit usually get the cases very early on, frequently the day the body is found, and they do participate closely in the investigation with the detectives.

    It was very common for prosecutors in the Special Trials Unit to form close friendships with detectives - especially the detectives in the Robbery Homicide Division of LAPD, because that division handles all the high profile cases on the police end of things.

    Bailey is a detective in the Robbery Homicide Division, and she and Rachel are not just close friends, they handle most of their cases together. So by the time we meet them in Guilt by Association, they really are a team and work all aspects of the case together.

    You'll see this in the next book, Guilt by Degrees (which just came out in May) and in the third book, Guilt by Ambition, which will be out next year.

    Again, J-9, I'm so glad you liked Guilt by Association and I hope you'll give Guilt by Degrees a try!

    All best
    marcia clark (FB and Twitter: thatmarciaclark)

  4. Hi Marcia,
    Thank you for taking the time to read and respond to my review. I find it very interesting the partnership that they have, and I believe that now having this information I will enjoy the next book even more. I look forward to reading Guilt by Degrees. :)