Emma Cunningham's Reviews > Guilt by Degrees

Guilt by Degrees by Marcia Clark
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May 20, 2012

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Read from March 08 to 12, 2012

When Spe­cial Tri­als Deputy D.A. Rachel Knight wit­nesses a pros­e­cu­tor screw up the case for a mur­dered home­less man, she’s furi­ous — so furi­ous that she takes over the case her­self. But when she learns that the home­less man is actu­ally Simon Bayer, the brother of a police offi­cer who was axe-​murdered two years ear­lier, the stakes are raised, since his accused mur­derer was his wife Leila — who walked on a jury deci­sion of Not Guilty. Not even just that there had been rea­son­able doubt as to her guilt, but that the jury had hon­estly believed she was inno­cent. And nobody has seen Leila since the trial.

What Rachel and her best friend, Detec­tive Bai­ley Keller, find, is that not every case boils down to a guilty party and a vic­tim. And that psy­chopaths really will do any­thing to avoid being caught.

I’ve reviewed Mar­cia Clark before, and hon­estly think that she gets bet­ter with each book. I think the best mark of an “author to watch” is one who makes a point of improv­ing her writ­ing and sto­ry­telling skills with each book, and Clark absolutely makes each book top the last. Although I don’t par­tic­u­larly like Rachel (which says noth­ing about Clark’s char­ac­ter devel­op­ment and every­thing to do with my taste in peo­ple), I do love the insight scoop on what it’s really like to work on a high-​profile case.

I don’t want to post any spoil­ers here, so I’m just going to say that this is one of the coolest ideas I’ve seen in a mys­tery novel in a long time. There are twists and turns I never guessed and I’m still not quite sure who the bad guy really is. I also like that there were a few loose ends left dan­gling, so another Rachel Knight tale seems likely.

One thing that was miss­ing for me was the love story. Rachel had been on the verge of patch­ing up a bro­ken heart in Guilt By Asso­ci­a­tion and I didn’t really feel that this book con­tin­ued the story of her heal­ing and mov­ing on. I would have liked to see more per­sonal devel­op­ment there.

All in all, Guilt By Degrees is a great novel. Since it’s set in the Spe­cial Tri­als divi­sion, it reads a bit more like a police pro­ce­dural than a legal thriller since Spe­cial Tri­als pros­e­cu­tors inves­ti­gate cases along with the detec­tives from the moment the body is found. How­ever, if you like police pro­ce­du­rals, Mar­cia Clark is one of the best to read.
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