by Christopher Lewis
If you like James Patterson’s Women’s Murder Club series, you’ll love Guilt by Association by Marcia Clark. Marcia, who was the lead prosecutor in the O.J. Simpson murder trial, has a lot of inside knowledge of the criminal justice system from her 14 years of experience in the District Attorney’s office in Los Angeles County. She wrote a non-fiction book, Without a Doubt, in 1997 about the O.J. Simpson trial and has now branched out into the world of fiction. Marcia doesn’t wander too far away from home, however, as her lead character is a female District Attorney, but she shows a great ability in this novel to combine her real-life knowledge of the legal system with an excellent piece of crime fiction.
The story is narrated by Rachel Knight, an Assistant District Attorney in Los Angeles. Feisty and independent, while at the same time fiercely loyal to her friends, she devotes her life to the cause of justice and proves to be very good at her job. As the story begins, she has just gotten a guilty verdict on an important case and is celebrating her success with her colleagues. Celebration soon gives way to mourning, however, when one of those colleagues is murdered.
A workaholic, she stays in the office later than her colleagues, and as she is walking home she comes across a crime scene. One victim is a 17 year old boy she’s never met, but the other is her friend and colleague, Assistant D.A. Jake Pahlmeyer. The police soon determine that it was a murder-suicide. Apparently, Jake was a pedophile, and he killed the teenager before killing himself. Rachel, however, is convinced that the police has it wrong because she feels she knows Jake well enough to know that the scenario doesn’t fit his character at all.
Together with her friends, Toni (a fellow A.D.A.) and Bailey (a police detective), she pursues her own investigation. When she soon becomes the focus of an escalating campaign of violence and intimidation, she discovers that there definitely is more going on than meets the eye. Will she discover that she didn’t really know her friend, Jake, at all? What had he gotten himself into? Will she be able to clear his name? And, even if she can, will she be able to keep her own career in tact in the process?
For a first novel, this book is very well written. The plot is intricate and includes the perfect mixture of mystery, action and intrigue. For those who like a more tender touch, it also includes some romance between two initially unlikely people. That’s enough information for this review, however. To find out more, pick up a copy and read it for yourself. It will be more than worth the while.