Moral Defense: A Samantha Brinkman Book by Marcia Clark (Thomas & Mercer, $24.95, 416 pages)
I quite enjoyed Marcia Clark’s first two criminal justice system novels, Guilt By Association and Guilt By Degrees. At that time Clark’s writing was biting but concise; somewhat in the vein of Michael Connelly. David Baldacci wrote, “Clark’s pace, plot and dialogue are as sharp as they come.” Well, those days seem to be over.
Moral Defense is not a terrible work, but it’s far too long at 416 pages, and Clark should have relied on the main story – about a young woman whose family members were brutally attacked – instead of loading the novel up with multiple crime stories. Defense attorney Sam Brinkman ties up so many loose ends in this tale that she might as well be a seamstress. Unlike prosecutor Rachel Knight, who seems to represent Clark’s alter ego, Brinkman is a Super Woman in a decidedly unlikeable package. She’s as mean – and perhaps as evil, as the dastardly criminals she represents.
The key problem is that Clark has devolved to a writing style that’s choppy and no longer crisp. This was especially true of the first 200 pages. By the time the second half speeds up, the reader has long passed the point of caring about the denouements. Not good. Not good at all.
A review copy was received from the publisher.
This book was released on November 8, 2016.