Blood Defense by Marcia Clark.
This is the author’s first novel of a series involving a criminal defense attorney named Samantha Brinkman. You can read her Rachel Knight prosecutor series here.
What I liked:
The protagonist. Samantha’s not so law abiding approach to the world was so refreshing. I also appreciated her professional approach to her vocation, it wasn’t about money, it was about doing the right thing the right way. This is also a no nonsense, courageous protagonist. That is the way I prefer them to be when I see them as the ‘hero’. The interesting aspect of Samantha is that her personal life is non-existent. Under the circumstances her work absorbs all of her life. The intriguing part is that this missing piece does not detract from the story. I imagine later tomes will add that dimension. She is unmarried, and as such the only personal interaction she has is with her parents, and those are priceless.
The plot twist. I found the twist to be unique and compelling – no spoiler though, find out for yourself, it is worth it. I will say this, the description of the emotional impact of the revelation pulls the reader into the story and holds you. That’s a major reason why we read novels, and this one delivers. Could you imagine yourself in that situation? What would you think? How would you react under the circumstances?
The mystery. This, of course like many of the genre, is a who done it. There is a very delicate balance every mystery author must maintain in order for the mystery to both drive the story and keep up a plausible enough level of suspense to engage readers. And this works only to the degree that there is an investment of interest made validating the notion that anyone cares what happens. This is not an easy task. It is in my opinion the element that separates the real mystery authors from the pretenders. Clark demonstrates her chops in this regard.
What I didn’t like:
I am one of those nitpickers. I confess! So I’ll ask. How does a violent crime victim who has never gotten justice become a criminal defense attorney? Why? So she can sandbag all her cases and get her clients convicted? I think not. I just cannot reconcile the contradiction. There is more to be mined on this subject but that the author only skims the surface. I say ‘no go’. Why touch so lightly on something so worthy of proper focus? Samantha has nightmares. Well? I don’t think it can be mentioned, as often as it is, without going into detail about the cause and effect.
What you should know:
Amateur psychologists will revel in this smorgasbord of mental disorders – narcissism, sociopaths, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, while seeing them play out in the lives of the people who are forced to live with them. The scene is Los Angeles, and pop culture is a main character. Kudos to making reference to the current political upheaval involving the presidential election.
Recommendation: Must Read