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Guilt by Association    by Marcia Clark order for
Guilt by Association
by Marcia Clark
Order:  USA  Can
Mulholland, 2011 (2011)
Hardcover, CD

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* *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

Marcia Clark is famed for her role as lead prosecutor in the O. J. Simpson trial. Her fiction debut in Guilt by Association introduces Los Angeles DA Rachel Knight, a tough talking, hard drinking heroine with the requisite vulnerabilities - a fear of loss, triggered by the disappearance of her sister Romy when they were children makes her commitment challenged. Rachel has an exotic home situation - she lives at the Biltmore hotel.

Rachel and fellow workaholic Jake Pahlmeyer compete constantly. They, and another friend and colleague, Toni, are in Special Trials, 'a small, elite unit that handled the most complex and high-profile cases.' Returning home late one night (after an earlier celebratory drink with Jake and Toni) Rachel stumbles on a crime scene and has a run-in with lean and handsome Lieutenant Graden Hales. Then she's shocked to see Jake's corpse being carried from a 'rat hole' of a seedy motel.

Rachel is even more shocked to find that Jake was found in the motel room with a seventeen-year-old boy (whose nude picture was in his jacket). It's seen as a murder-suicide. She can't believe it and keeps digging (with the help of her LAPD Major Crimes friend Bailey Keller) despite being repeatedly warned off the investigation. Of course she has her normal workload as well, with one of Jake's cases added to it - the rape of the teen daughter of a very influential pediatrician. Daddy Densmore believes he knows whodunit and presses for a quick arrest - his daughter Susan disagrees.

Rachel has more than one brush with death as the investigations progress. But she's nothing if not committed and persistent. Guilt by Association makes an appealing start to a new legal mystery series, written by someone who knows her stuff. The supportive relationships between Rachel, Toni and Bailey reminded me of Patterson's Women's Murder Club - they celebrate accomplishments, bemoan failures and empathize over relationship problems together. I hope we'll read more of all of them - and soon.

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