Monday, May 7, 2012

Review: Guilt by Degrees

Summary: Someone has been watching D.A. Rachel Knight--someone who's Rachel's equal in brains, but with more malicious intentions. It began when a near-impossible case fell into Rachel's lap, the suspectless homicide of a homeless man. In the face of courthouse backbiting and a gauzy web of clues, Rachel is determined to deliver justice. She's got back-up: tough-as-nails Detective Bailey Keller. As Rachel and Bailey stir things up, they're shocked to uncover a connection with the vicious murder of an LAPD cop a year earlier. Something tells Rachel someone knows the truth, someone who'd kill to keep it secret.

Harrowing, smart, and riotously entertaining, GUILT BY DEGREES is a thrilling ride through the world of LA courts with the unforgettable Rachel Knight. - Mulholland

A little over a year ago, I reviewed GUILT BY ASSOCIATION by Marcia Clark, and I was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed it. I really shouldn't say "surprised" since I had read Ms. Clark's memoir about her experiences as a prosecutor for the O.J. Simpson trial and found her to be a decent writer; however, I was more than impressed with her storytelling abilities in her debut novel. After I read GUILT BY ASSOCIATION, I concluded that Ms. Clark has a real talent for writing crime fiction and I couldn't wait to see what was the future would hold for D.A. Rachel Knight.

So when I received an advance copy of GUILT BY DEGREES, I was a little surprised to see that the book was HUGE! While I enjoy Ms. Clark's writing and her characters, I wasn't sure that I wanted to read this big of a book... about any subject. However, I quickly realized that the ARC was actually a copy of both GUILT BY ASSOCIATION AND GUILT BY DEGREES; and I gave a little sigh of relief that her latest novel wasn't 800 pages. And then I decided that the folks at Mulholland were pretty smart to package the books this way because if you read one of them, you will definitely want to read both!

GUILT BY DEGREES is a fantastic mystery about the murder of an unidentified homeless man -- but that's just the quick and dirty description. This novel is actually a pretty complex and exciting ride! When this homicide case ends up on Rachel's plate because she couldn't bare to see it dropped, Rachel and her detective friend Bailey end up investigating this very complicated crime. As they dig deeper into the case and begin to identify some of the major players, they discover that this murder is linked to the murder of a LAPD cop. The closer Rachel gets to uncovering the clues, the more she realizes that someone wants to keep her quiet and that her life might be in danger.

When I started writing this review, I took a peek at what I had to say about GUILT BY ASSOCIATION. Interestingly enough (at least to me), I found many similarities in my reaction to this novel. Once again, I was impressed with Ms. Clark's ability to weave a good mystery, but I also appreciated the character development - especially as it pertained to Rachel. I just adore Rachel and love her spunkiness. She is dedicated to her job as a public servant and most definitely wants to see justice served, but she's also extremely tough and almost fearless about getting to the bottom of her cases.

In GUILT BY DEGREES, the reader gets to know a little more about Rachel on a personal level. We already know that she's a workaholic and appreciates drinks and a good meal, but we also see that she has some baggage from her past that affects her relationships. There is a some romance for Rachel, and along with that comes some relationship issues, but I enjoyed how the author balanced Rachel's work problems with her personal ones.

I was extremely impressed with the mystery aspects of this novel -- they were truly very well done; and I loved how complicated they were. What I appreciated even more in this novel was how Rachel (and Bailey) investigated this crime. Their quest to solve the mystery and sort through all of the information was so detailed, yet at the same time, I thought it was crucial to the story. Nothing about the crimes in this book was simple or trite, and I loved how the story unfolded at just the right pace.

Another part of GUILT BY DEGREES that I liked was how Ms. Clark brought the Los Angeles setting to life. I love reading about all of the buildings and restaurants that Rachel visited, and I think Ms. Clark does a wonderful job of describing Rachel's favorite places. Needless to say, I was so excited to discover this on her website -- it's descriptions of Rachel's Los Angeles with photos!

GUILT BY DEGREES takes up right where GUILT BY ASSOCIATION left off and there are a few references to the first novel. Having said that, GUILT BY DEGREES definitely stands on its own and can be enjoyed without knowing the background on Rachel's prior case. Ms. Clark did a great job of explaining all of the references to situations, places, or characters. While it's not necessary to read these books in order, I do recommend reading both of them, not because you have to, but rather because they are just that good.

Once again, I think Ms. Clark wrote another winner with GUILT BY DEGREES. I am anxiously awaiting the next Rachel Knight book to see what's in store for her -- both professionally and personally! Highly recommended for fans of police procedurals and mysteries as well as fans of stories with kick-butt female characters!

Thanks to the publisher for providing a review copy of this novel.

Mystery Mondays is a regular feature where I review all types of mystery books -- traditional mysteries, suspense/thrillers, and even cozies! Please feel free to share your thoughts on any recent mystery books that you've read.


Serena said...

I'm so glad that Marcia Clark has found a second calling. I think she was unfairly treated by the media during the OJ trial. These sounds like great mysteries.

Laura at Library of Clean Reads said...

I have to try this author. Her books sound like great suspense novels.

rhapsodyinbooks said...

I like what you say about bringing LA to life. Maybe I should try this series!

Beth F said...

I had that same reaction -- what a *huge* book. Then saw it was a 2 for 1! I really need to get to this. I think I'll love it.

bermudaonion said...

I loved Guilt by Association and can't wait to revisit Rachel Knight in this book.

SuziQoregon said...

Yup - just finished writing up my review and then went back and looked at what I said about the first one. Much of what I liked about it continued to be strengths in this one. I'm definitely looking forward to more Rachel Knight!