Marcia Clarke’s first foray into fiction has all the ingredients of a big success: as the lead prosecutor in the OJ Simpson murder case, Clarke has first-hand experience of the inner workings of LA law enforcement and the grimy and sordid crime scene that goes with it.
The book begins promisingly (if a little predictably): Rachael Knight, a workaholic DA, addicted to truth, justice and (possibly) booze finds herself immersed in a trial involving her equally committed, handsome young colleague, Jake, who is found dead in a seedy hotel room with a teenage boy in what appears to be a sex-related murder-suicide. Banking on gut feeling, Knight and her sassy, sexy cop friend Bailey Keller break all the rules in the book and ignore protocol to embark on disentangling this mystery and clearing Jake’s name. In the mean time, the two must solve a rape case left over from Jake’s case load.
So far, so fascinating. But what proceeds is a confused and unsatisfying narrative that fails to deliver on the promises it makes at the beginning. The narrative is heaving with frequent and unnecessarily detailed descriptions of meals and wardrobe selection and of nuggets of Knight’s petty and often boring thoughts. And Graden? The sex interest that promises to offer so much at the start? After a few uneventful dates, Clarke completely drops the subject until a brief reference at the very end of the book.
The novel predominantly focuses on the rape case which, although it ends up being tied up with Jake’s murder, means that for chapters on end the reader gets nothing to build their suspense or intrigue relating to the case that they had initially invested in. There are just too many factors of the narrative that do not add up, that fizzle-out and die or that are left dangling like damp squibs to give the reader the juicy (if basic) satisfaction they are after in an LA crime fiction novel such as this.
That being the case, there is reason to believe that if the calorie counting Knight and Co return in a sequel they may count on Clark’s ambition to fatten up the story. If she follows the trend in Guilt by Association and puts more meat on the bones of her courtroom dramas, she might soon entice more fans of early John Grisham into her dog eat dog world.