Friday, September 28, 2012
Guilt by Degrees by Marcia Clark
I see all the rave reviews for this title and I credit Clark for being able to create creditable characters in a thoroughly authentic law environment. That is the thing Clark does best: how does a special prosecutor's office sound, what do people actually do, and how do crimes actually get prosecuted successfully? What are the snags? I wouldn’t, however, call it “gritty.”
Clark is a rare creature, and so is her creation, Rachel Knight. Knight manages to get up (late) every day in her suite at fancy L.A. hotel where she lives with its closets of designer outfits that will hide a Glock. Knight retains close friends who can also help her with cases, keeps a sexy man-friend on a short leash, and maintains her figure by fantasizing about food more than she eats it. Much of the pleasure of the book is finding out what she will be eating or drinking, where, and with whom, and hearing her intimate chit-chat with friends. She’s clever, but not so much so that we feel jealous of her. Mostly we feel jealous of her friends, who get so much of her attention. We’d like to be them, knowing we could never be Knight herself. She’s an original.
But why then did I feel as though this was a slight downslide from her first in the series? Knight herself mentions that her heart bleeds for the poor victims of crimes that she prosecutes, but she doesn’t show it. In her job, I might be worse after a couple of years, but one wants to believe the best of those that prosecute serious crimes and those that make lots of (taxpayer) money. One doesn’t want to think they are, after all, lushes with the shells of success.
But this is a series, after all, and there is always variation in the mix. Let’s say this: Clark seems exceptional at a number of things, one of which is writing bestsellers. I wish her the best.
A word about January LaVoy's reading of the novel: LaVoy gets full points for sounding feminine and enthusiastic and interested all the time. She has a voice that keeps its cool no matter what the circumstance. She can be talking about designer clothes or a gruesome autopsy. It's all cool.
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