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Guilt by Association (A Rachel Knight Novel) Hardcover – April 20, 2011
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But she can't stop herself from digging deeper into Jake's death, a decision that exposes a world of power and violence and will have her risking her reputation--and her life--to find the truth.
With her tremendous expertise in the nuances of L.A. courts and crime, and with a vibrant ensemble cast of characters, Marcia Clark combines intimate detail, riotous humor, and visceral action in a debut thriller that marks the launch of a major new figure on the crime-writing scene.
Alafair Burke is the bestselling author of six novels, including 212, Angel’s Tip, and Dead Connection in the Ellie Hatcher series. A former prosecutor, she now teaches criminal Law and lives in Manhattan. Long Gone, her first stand-alone thriller, will be published by Harper in June 2011.
Not too many years ago, an influential friend in the literary world told me, “Legal thrillers are out.” Having just published my first two novels, both featuring Portland Deputy District Attorney Samantha Kincaid, I desperately needed this death announcement to be premature. The problem, I argued, was an overabundance of bad legal thrillers that had scarred the subgenre’s once-good name. Perhaps trying to replicate the success of groundbreaking novels like Scott Turow’s Presumed Innocent and John Grisham's A Time to Kill, publishers had overpurchased and overpromoted courtroom-centric novels by lawyers who managed to turn the term “legal thriller” into an oxymoron. Evidentiary objections, jury selection, and cross-examinations might be real goose bump inducers compared to the average lawyer’s workday, but as ingredients for a page-turner? No, thank you.
Well, I’m delighted to report that, despite my friend’s death knell, law-based crime fiction is alive and well thanks to authors who focus not on blue-in-the-face litigators hollering “Objection!” at one another, but on good old fashioned storytelling about characters who just happen to be lawyers. When the industry had all but written off the so-called “legal thriller” in favor of high concept novels in the spirit of The Da Vinci Code, Linda Fairstein and Lisa Scottoline continued to dominate bestsellers’ lists because they wrote damn good books. Today, Michael Connelly has put to rest any lingering questions about the viability of the subgenre by bringing Mickey Haller to every medium -- #1 in hardback and digital, and $46 million and counting at the box office. What makes these books irresistible aren’t the bells and whistles of the technical ins and outs of the legal system, but memorable characters and solid plotting in the hands of masterful storytellers.
With Guilt By Association, Marcia Clark joins the ranks of Scottoline, Fairstein, and Connelly. Her debut novel introduces us to Los Angeles prosecutor Rachel Knight, a member of the office’s elite Special Trials Unit. In the opening pages, Knight’s friend and colleague Jake Pahlmeyer is found dead at a seedy motel under even seedier circumstances. She inherits a high-profile rape case from his desk. While the victim’s father exerts political pressure for an arrest, the investigation takes Rachel into LA’s gang world and makes her a target. As if that weren’t enough to keep a gal busy, she can’t help poking around into Jake’s death, despite strict orders to mind her own bees’ wax.
Like the finest books in the legal thriller subgenre, very few pages of Guilt By Association take place in the courtroom. Instead, we see Rachel’s interactions with cops, contacts, and witnesses. We see the action as it unfolds, not as it is summarized later in the artificially sterile courtroom setting. We see Rachel at home with her friends. We get to know--and like--her.
Much attention will certainly be paid to Clark’s former career as a prosecutor in Los Angeles, most notably as the head prosecutor in OJ Simpson’s criminal trial. That platform will also undoubtedly bring extraordinary attention to a debut novel. But an unfortunate consequence of any emphasis upon her significant legal career might be an inaccurate perception of the book itself. Clark’s expertise about the criminal justice system leaps from the pages of Guilt By Association, but not because she shows off her knowledge of the law, rules of evidence, or courtroom procedure. Rather, her experience allows her to write with confidence rarely seen in a first novel--about Los Angeles, about Rachel Knight, about the secondary characters who occupy Knight’s world and become a part of ours. Guilt By Association succeeds because of Clark’s gifts as a writer, not as a lawyer. With those gifts, she has created a true legal thriller--emphasis on the thrill.
From Publishers Weekly
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Top Customer Reviews
After a brief prologue, Guilt by Association opens with colleagues toasting a legal victory at the end of the workday. The victor is ADA Rachel Knight, who was just handed a guilty verdict in record time. The wins are why she and her colleagues put in the long hours, and no one is a bigger workaholic than Rachel, except perhaps for Jake. When Jake and Toni head out for the night, Rachel promises she'll follow just as soon as she gets a little more work done... And, after all, home is only a six-block walk from the office. Once outside she hears sirens and quickly comes across an unfolding crime scene--a homicide by the looks of it. She's waiting around out of professional curiosity when a ranking cop tries to send her packing. Rachel is confounded and annoyed--until she sees the face of one of the two victims. It's Jake; hard-working, nice guy Jake.
The next morning, the news gets worse. The crime appears to be a murder-suicide. Jake was in a sleazy motel room with a 17-year-old boy, who he appears to have shot before then shooting himself. There was a naked photo of the kid in his pocket. Hung-over and still in shock, Rachel doesn't believe it. The facts are damning, and even though no one really knew about his personal life, she just knows Jake can't have done what they're saying. Unfortunately, she's warned off Jake's case in no uncertain terms.Read more ›
First I want to make a disclosure. I know Marcia Clark. In fact we are good friends. I was concerned when I first read the book because I worried, "What if I don't like it?" - and it's so hard to tell someone you like something like that. But there was no need for worry because this book exceeded my best expectations. This is my honest and heartfelt review.
The story - Rachel Knight is a Los Angeles County Deputy District Attorney assigned to the elite Special Trials Division, where the deputies take on the cases from the ground up. This means that they often will be part of the investigation before the case is even filed.
Rachel's best friends in the division are fellow prosecutors Toni and Jake. Whereas Rachel and Toni are friend's outside of the office and share stories about each other's lives- Jake is more private. In fact Rachel soon comes to realize she knows very little about Jake outside of his D.A. persona.
The book starts out with Rachel winning a case in court and going up to her office to share a drink with Toni and Jake. Jake gets up and leaves early, and Toni stays a while longer. After putting in her usual long hours, Rachel then leaves the Criminal Courts Building to walk home - which is for now the fabulous Biltmore (there's more about that in the book.) As she is walking, Rachel sees fire trucks and police cars by a seedy motel and when she goes over to check it out, is horrified when she sees Jake's body being taken out on a gurney. What is he doing there? And how did he die? And when it turns out a nude teenage boy's picture was in Jake's pocket, and the boy was found dead along with Jake, the police assume it was a murder suicide.Read more ›
Though Rachel would like to fully devote her time to finding Jake's killer, her job as DA continued. She is assigned one of his cases, the rape of Susan Densmore--the teenaged daughter of an extremely successful and wealthy doctor with strategic connections within the DA's office. As she investigates Susan's case, the threats against her life become very real as does the increasing danger of her secret probe into Jake's death. In an intelligent and highly enjoyable thriller, Guilt By Association features a sharp female lead character with a witty, sarcastic charm who makes this story leap off the pages.
Covers rarely catch my attention, but big kudos to the cover art designers at Mulholland Books. I'm not a huge fan of a character on the cover, but they really nailed it this time. I love the necklace with the gun charm. It helped set the tone of the book and enhanced Rachel's character. Great job!
Now on to the book. Since I read a lot of action, thriller, somewhat violent, type novels, the majority of the lead characters are men. As a result I usually struggle with strong female lead characters. Too many times they feel like men dressed up as women or powder puffs trying to act macho.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I was falling in love with the personalities of Rachel Knight and her team, Toni, and Jake Pahlmeyer, when shortly thereafter Jake was found dead in a sleazy motel together with... Read morePublished 2 months ago by D. Coto
Not too bad for what I think is Marcia Clark's maiden attempt at crime thrillers.One would have expected a legal thriller from the former prosecutor ,which this is not.Published 3 months ago by S.Nair
This is my first Marsha Clark book. A friend recommended Ms. Clarke's books. Thanks you, North Star!
I will be purchasing more!
Love her writings and now have just bought another of her novels...and will more too. Thanks. JanettePublished 5 months ago by ms Janette A Leaney
Rachel Knight is a boring, unlikeable "heroine" , who as an Assistant District Attorney, is supposed to uphold the law. Read more
Most entertaining. I like the characters and how they work so well as a team.Published 5 months ago by Betty B. Sharpe
I received an email from NetGalley asking if I'd be interested in reviewing a series by Marcia Clark. Read morePublished 5 months ago by acorley84