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July 4, 2012 / John Sheridan

Review: Guilt by Degrees by Marcia Clark

Marcia Clark’s second Rachel Knight novel, Guilt by Degrees (Amazon, Amazon UK, Book Depository UK) was published in May 2012. It was preceded by Guilt by Association (Amazon, Amazon UK, Book Depository UK) which I reviewed earlier this year here.

If you’ve read and liked the first novel then you’ll want to pick up the second one as well as it features many of the same aspects that worked well the first time around. I’ve seen comparisons made to John Grisham and Scott Turow which I can’t comment on as I haven’t read enough of those authors but when it comes to a “legal” thriller the comparison that comes to my mind is Michael Connelly’s Mickey Haller – maybe not quite as addictive yet but it is early in the series so there’s room to grow. What we do have is definite insight from a former prosecutor of how things actually do work plus mainly female protagonists in the form of Rachel Knight plus her friends on the police force and in the DA’s office.

In “Guilt By Degrees” Rachel stumbles into a much bigger case when she picks up a case that another ADA has dropped the ball on concerning an unidentified homeless man that was stabbed in the street and lay dying as people stepped over and around him. Outraged by the other attorney’s indifference and incompetence she steps in only to find that having identified the man that he is actually the brother of a murdered cop. Rather than falling in the line of duty however it was his wife that was prosecuted but acquitted which kicked off the sequence of events that ultimately resulted in the death of his brother on a city street while the world passed by oblivious. To unravel the case Rachel will have to track down the ex-wife who has vanished without a trace since her acquittal and piece together the truth of the original case regardless of the verdict. Interspersed nicely are additional details on Rachel’s backstory and the impact childhood events are still having on both her personal and professional life. While it doesn’t end on a cliffhanger there are unresolved issues which may come back to haunt Rachel.

Check out the Mulholland Books website here and here for a two-part interview with the author.

Finally, a quick word about “If I’m Dead” a short story available for Kindle and also featuring Rachel Knight. This is a quick read of about 30 minutes priced at about $1. The title is taken from the diary of the murder victim of a trial Rachel is about to commence, the accused being the husband of the victim. A difficult case as the victim is a globetrotting charity worker and if the body hasn’t been found it can be difficult to overcome the reasonable doubt supposition but leave it to Rachel to pull the trial out of the fire with a neat trick at the end just as it looked she was going down in flames.

I liked both Guilt by Degrees (Amazon, Amazon UK, Book Depository UK) and “If I’m Dead” and rated both at 4 out of 5.

Happy 4th July to all our US readers.

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