Guilt by Association
Marcia Clark
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Buy *Guilt by Association* by Marcia Clark online

Guilt by Association
Marcia Clark
Mulholland Books
384 pages
March 2012
rated 4 1/2 of 5 possible stars

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In the preface to this novel, Marcia Clark talks about the trials of getting her book written while also “finding the true voice” of her intrepid heroine, Deputy DA Rachel Knight. Never one to disappoint, the Los Angeles trial lawyer has written a remarkably dark drama of murder with an edge-of-your-seat plot that circles around the rich who live behind protected estates, unwittingly becoming tempting targets for violent rapists.

Rachel is plunged into an ever-deepening murder investigation when Jake Pahlmeyer, her office soul mate, is found dead in a seedy pay-by-the-hour motel on South Broadway, just around the corner from Pershing Square. A kindred workaholic spirit, Rachel can’t imagine why anyone in the world who would want to harm Jake. Jake - along with Rachel and Rachel’s colleague Toni - had been part of the special trials elite unit, a group that handles the most complex high-profile legal cases.

As Lieutenant Graden Hales tries to guide Rachel through the initial fog of denial and disbelief, he tells her that Jake wasn’t alone in the motel room. There was also a seventeen-year-old boy by the name of Kit Chalmers present, and  Kit’s nude picture was found in Jake’s jacket. At first the crime looks like murder-suicide - Jake shot the boy and then himself. Rachel, however, is postive that the crime foreshadows something far darker. More than just the dumping of a prostitution case in her lap, Rachel discovers that Kit Chalmers was unlikely to have kept his nose clean for the past two years.

A low hum of suspicion reverberates as Rachel balances her new caseloads with an investigation into Jake’s murder. Of all the new cases, most pressing is the one-count rape of Susan Densmore, the sheltered daughter of Frank Densmore, a high profile Los Angeles doctor who owns a series of upper-end health clinics throughout the city. With no defendant in custody, it’s time for Bailey Keller, one of the best detectives in the force, to accompany Rachel to the Densmore home at Pacific Palisades.

A perfectly groomed, rigorously fit-looking man, Densmore refuses to listen to Susan’s incessant pleadings that she can’t have been raped by Luis Revelo, a known gang-banger who lives on the wrong side of the tracks and who Susan had been tutoring. Densmore is convinced Luis committed the act, but Bailey and Rachel are bugged by Frank‘s “control-freak know-it-all” sensibilities and his stubborn refusal to debate over who committed the crime.

When Luis turns up loudly declaring his innocence, Rachel realizes that something about the case doesn’t read right. The perpetrator was definitely someone who knew the family, but it just seems a dumb move to do a rape in a place like the Palisades with its heavy police presence. Meanwhile, Rachel's new and feisty relationship with Bailey takes center stage. A gutsy, no-nonsense woman, Keller watches over Rachel with a sisterly eye. Even though they’re armed with all of the modern technological tools of the trade, both crimes truly test Rachel and Bailey’s perseverance.

The jagged outline of downtown Los Angeles hangs over the action while Clark meshes her extensive legal experience into a detailed expose of her heroine's personal and professional life. The murderer slips further away as Rachel plummets into the sleazy, gutter world of meth freaks, blackmailers and pedophiles, the lawyer more determined than ever to find a measure of justice for Jake and for Susan.

Originally published on Curled Up With A Good Book at © Michael Leonard, 2011

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