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Guilt by Association (A Rachel Knight Novel) Paperback – Bargain Price, March 1, 2012
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Los Angeles D.A. Rachel Knight is a tenacious, wise-cracking, and fiercely intelligent prosecutor in the city's most elite division. When her colleague, Jake, is found dead at a grisly crime scene, Rachel is shaken to the core. She must take over his toughest case: the assault of a young woman from a prominent family.
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.--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From Publishers Weekly
Starred Review. Clark, the lead prosecutor in the O.J. Simpson trial, makes a triumphant fiction debut that catapults her to the same level as Linda Fairstein, her fellow assistant DA turned legal thriller novelist. Clark's alter ego, L.A. deputy DA Rachel Knight, suffers a shocking loss when a close colleague is suspected of committing a murder-suicide. Unable to reconcile her view of the accused with the official investigation, Knight persists in digging on her own, even though her office has been recused from the case. The workaholic also has her hands full with a case she inherited from the dead prosecutor—the rape of a 15-year-old girl, Susan Densmore, whose doctor father, a prominent financial backer of Knight's boss, is convinced that he knows who the assailant is. Clark (Without a Doubt with Teresa Carpenter) deftly handles the multiple plot lines. Readers will want to see a lot more of Knight, who combines strength of character and compassion with all-too-human foibles. (Apr.)
(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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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. Rather, she's asked to take over one of the cases that Jake had been working on, that of the rape of affluent 15-year-old Susan Densmore. Rachel, with the help of her detective friend Bailey and a host of other allies, launches herself into both cases, constantly fearing she's about to be fired for insubordination. "I took another sip of my drink and pondered what I could do on my own. Being a prosecutor, I was not, as they say, without resources." True that.
It's a strong debut, no doubt. Right from the opening, you just can't help thinking as you read, "Wow, this woman REALLY knows what she's writing about!" So much of the novel has the ring of verisimilitude. It may be the greatest strength. Even so, this novel really wasn't what I was expecting. It's been described as a legal thriller, but truthfully, it was far more a police procedural. There wasn't a single scene in a courtroom. Rather, Rachel was frequently out in the field, partnering Bailey, gun literally in hand, as they investigated the cases. She's not a lawyer content to sit behind a desk while the cops do their job, and I have to wonder how realistic the depiction is. It's not that it was unbelievable, but it was surprising. Either way, it's fiction, and I was willing to go along for the ride.
Rachel Knight is a strong, likable protagonist. Ms. Clark has imbued her with enough idiosyncratic detail that she, too, has the ring of verisimilitude. For instance, Rachel's obsessed with every calorie she puts in her mouth, unless it's in an alcoholic beverage or eaten off someone else's plate. While this is a stand alone novel, it's easy to image that Rachel and the various supporting characters may be back in future novels. If so, Guilt by Association serves as a good introduction. The novel is not perfect. There were times when Clark told instead of showing. Another time Rachel took an unbelievably stupid risk. And the plot did suffer one big fictional cliché, but I can't mention it without spoilers. Still, those are relatively minor complaints.
Clark keeps things moving along briskly, and while the pace never lags, about midway through things really pick up and stay up straight through the novel's end. It's a nice, tight, coherent plot with plenty of surprises and a satisfying conclusion. Looks like you've racked up another win, Ms. Clark.
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.
Realizing that she doesn't know much about Jake, Rachel still refuses to believe what seems to be the obvious, and through her determination, smarts and loyalty she is determined to find out what happened - even if it's just for her own peace of mind.
The next day, back at the office, Jake's cases are divvied up among the remaining attorneys and Rachel gets the case of a 16 year old girl raped in her home in the affluent city of Pacific Palisades. The girl's father is a big supporter of the current District Attorney, and Rachel is put under a lot of pressure to resolve the case and get a conviction.
Rachel is officially told to stay away from Jake's murder investigation which has now gone to the FBI due to a conflict with the DA's office. But it's not in Rachel's nature to back off anything, and when she is able to get her favorite police detective Bailey Keller to work with her on both the rape case and unofficially on Jake's case, the story takes off.
There are plenty of nifty twists and turns in this novel, as with any good mystery. But what makes this book a step above the rest is the spot on dialogue which has some of the funniest laugh out loud moments I've had while reading. The witty banter between Rachel and her detective Bailey are some of the best moments, but by all means not the only ones.
Rachel Knight is a terrific, one of a kind character, and she absolutely comes alive on these pages. You not only get to read a good mystery novel, but you also get an inside and intimate look at what it's like to be a Deputy District Attorney in these special units, from someone who was there. You've heard of police procedurals - and in this case I would say it's a D.A. procedural as well.
I really liked it. I'm thrilled to review it. And I'm recommending it to everyone I know.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
It just seemed for me that I could never loose myself in this book and...Read more