Guilt by Association: A Novel by Marcia Clark (Mulholland Books, $14.99, 384 pages)
It may be a shame that Marcia Clark spent so many years as a prosecutor for the County of Los Angeles. I say this because she’s such a talented writer, as is made clear by this fun romp of a criminal justice novel. Because the book’s protagonist, Rachel Knight, just happens to be a Deputy District Attorney (DDA) who works in the L. A. County Criminal Courts Building (the beloved CCB) one would guess that there’s a bit of Ms. Clark in the character. Maybe, maybe not… Rachel Knight may be slightly more daring than Clark was in her real professional life.
One surprise will be noted up front. This is not a courtroom novel. No scenes take place inside of a courtroom, so this is not a Scott Turow-style read. Basically, this is the story of a prosecutor who decides to become a covert criminal investigator, off of the time sheets and without the knowledge or approval of her supervisors. As Guilt by Association begins, Knight is celebrating a victory with fellow DDA Jake Pahlmeyer and LAPD Detective Bailey Keller. It’s not long before Pahlmeyer is found dead downtown, in a very seedy hotel room with a 17-year-old boy; and there’s a nude photo of the boy in his suit jacket pocket. Rachel’s supervisors very quickly instruct her to keep her “hands off” of the murder investigation involving her best friend in the criminal justice system.
Being a bit of a rogue, Knight brings Bailey into her effort to clear the late Pahlmeyer’s name in a city where scandals are less than a dime a dozen. And as she does so, she also has to take over one of Jake’s cases – one that involves the rape of a 15-year-old girl, the daughter of a very prominent physician. Could the two cases somehow be related? Maybe, maybe not… You’ll have to read this criminal justice system mystery to find out and to learn the meaning of the rather intriguing title.
You never know what’s coming around the curve with this one… Reading Guilt by Association is like taking a ride down the virtually mythical Mulholland Drive in a new Porsche Cayman S.
I would like to offer a bold or not-so-bold prediction for the future of this protagonist. My money is on Rachel Knight’s getting fired from the D.A.’s office, and going on to become an embittered and newly licensed private investigator – one who uses every contact in her old address book to solve some of the county’s toughest and meanest crimes. Not only will it make a series of great reads, but quite possibly a new hit TV show. Rachel Knight, PI – it somehow sounds just right!
A review copy was provided by the publisher. Guilt by Association was released as a trade paperback book on March 1, 2012.