Last year I had the opportunity to meet Marcia Clark when I was asked to interview her for the Texas Book Festival. I had not read her debut, Guilt By Association, at that point even though it earned great reviews and many of my friends liked it. When I did, I ended up finding both the book and the author a very pleasant surprise.
I’m not always attracted to legal thrillers, but I discovered Guilt By Association to be much more than that. It has many of the conventions, following Rachel Knight, a driven special prosecutor with a dark past, through the inner workings and politics of the L. A. courts as she looks into the suspicious death of a colleague while taking over his last case that could be tied to his death. What sets it apart is Rachel’s actual job. As a special prosecutor, she starts a case at the scene of the crime, gathering as much evidence as she can. It gives her books more of a procedural element as Rachel works with the police, particularly her close friend Detective Bailey Keller. A fan of Conelly or Craise should be able to enjoy these books as a L. A. crime novel.
I also found out that Marcia is completely different from the person I had seen on TV. Most of us know her from her days as a prosecutor on the OJ Simpson trial and now as a CNN legal expert, giving her take on Casey Anthony and the Trayvon Martin shooting. None of these are subjects that demonstrate one’s lighter side. When I met her, we were at ease with each other immediately. She’s warm and charming with no pretense. She’s always looking for a reason to laugh or trying to get one out of you. Her interaction with the audience at the Book Festival was great, treating them all like old friends.
Her latest book, Guilt By Degrees, is a slightly grittier book than Association. Rachel takes on the possible murder of a homeless man, leading her through Skid Row, Beverly Hills, and even an Aryan Brotherhood compound. It’s not long before she discovers the crime could be linked to the death of a police officer. Bailey has a larger role this time, creating a great female buddy dynamic not often seen in the genre.
We will be getting copies of Guilt By Degrees early so that we have them in time for Marcia Clark’s reading and signing on Friday, April 20th, at 7PM. I hope you’ll come out and take advantage of this opportunity to meet a rising star in crime fiction. Take it from me, you won’t be disappointed.