Gloria Feit's Reviews > Guilt by Degrees

Guilt by Degrees by Marcia Clark
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's review
Aug 02, 2012

really liked it

The opening pages of this new novel by Marcia Clark are attention-getting, to say the least: One ax murder [of an LAPD cop, no less], in the brief Prologue, immediately followed [albeit chronologically two years later] by the stabbing death of a homeless man on a busy LA street, in broad daylight. While the identity of the first victim is quite clear, there is no identification as to the second, nor are there any witnesses who saw the killer.

This is the second book featuring 34-year-old Special Trials deputy DA Rachel Knight, who takes a somewhat circuitous path to leading the investigation into the death of the homeless man. Also returning are her best buddies: Fellow ADA Toni LaCollier, and detective Bailey Keller. Together they make quite a team.

The reader is teased by interspersed chapters which switch from the 1st-person narrative of Rachel Knight to a third-person pov of a mysterious woman with extraordinary skills, whose part in the plot is not soon revealed. The novel unfolds in somewhat leisurely fashion, until the pace picks up in the second half. In addition to the police procedural, the reader does learn quite a lot about Rachel’s preferences in alcoholic beverages, and discovers that she possesses extensive knowledge of good jazz.

The author’s books have been compared to those of best-seller Linda Fairstein [who herself has a new book just recently released], for some obvious reasons: Each was a nationally well-known Federal prosecutor in two of the largest cities in the US [NY and LA], and the even more obvious fact that each was lead prosecutor in two of the highest-profile trials in modern criminal history. To this reader, although the author’s vast experience as a Federal prosecutor is much in evidence, she still has a while to go before achieving Ms. Fairstein’s high level of writing expertise, but the book is an interesting and well-plotted novel sure to keep the reader involved to the end, and I will look forward to the next entry in the Rachel Knight series.

I would recommend that the reader not read the flyleaf, which to me included much too much information. One further note: One cannot help but feel that the author’s observation that “no prosecutor likes to lose . . . the typical anger we all feel when a guilty defendant walks out the door . . . was much deeper, much more personal” seems very personal indeed.

[I would have given this 3-1/2 stars had I been able to do that]

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