Monday, July 22, 2013

Review: Killer Ambition

Summary: When the daughter of a billionaire Hollywood director is found murdered after what appears to be a kidnapping gone wrong, Los Angeles Special Trials prosecutor Rachel Knight and Detective Bailey Keller find themselves at the epicenter of a combustible and high-profile court case. Then a prime suspect is revealed to be one of Hollywood's most popular and powerful talent managers--and best friend to the victim's father. With the director vouching for the manager's innocence, the Hollywood media machine commences an all-out war designed to discredit both Rachel and her case. KILLER AMBITION is at once a thrilling ride through the darker side of Tinseltown and a stunning courtroom drama with the brilliant insider's perspective that Marcia Clark is uniquely qualified to give. -- Little, Brown & Co

I always have a list of books that I want to get at Book Expo America, and this year, one of my must-haves was KILLER AMBITION by Marcia Clark. Despite numerous walk-bys past Hachette's booth, I either missed it or they weren't giving them out. And then, lo and behold, I learned that Ms. Clark would be signing at the Mystery Writers of America booth. So Kathy and I went to the signing and discovered that there were hundreds of people who had the exact same idea. We decided not to wait; however, we lucked out when we walked by during the last ten minutes of her signing and found the line to be much shorter -- maybe five people. Bottom line, I was able to score a copy of KILLER AMBITION and it's autographed to boot!

KILLER AMBITION is the third novel in the Rachel Knight series. I have read the prior novels and was extremely impressed with Ms. Clark's storytelling abilities. I loved how she set up the mystery and incorporated a few twists and turns. And it didn't hurt that Rachel Knight and her best friends kick some major butt!

In this novel, Rachel finds herself involved in the kidnapping of a famous Hollywood director's teenage daughter. Needless to say, it is an extremely high profile case and one that is near-and-dear to Rachel's heart. When the girl and her boyfriend are both found dead, the prime suspect is a former childhood star and current manager of the victim's father... and his best friend. As Rachel works to put this man behind bars, she has to face many impediments including a reluctant witness in the victim's father as well as a media frenzy that is deliberately trying to discredit Rachel and her case.

I enjoyed KILLER AMBITION quite a bit, but I'm not sure I'd say it's my all-time favorite Rachel Knight book. This is going to sound terrible, but I thought the book, at 450+ pages was just too long. I found my attention wavering in the first half of the story and felt as if it could have been shorter. Having said that, I am the first to admit that maybe it was just me.

However, I loved the second half of the story -- the part when Rachel actually went to trial with her case. That part of the novel was so well done and rang so true for me. I adored how Ms. Clark showed what went on both inside and outside the courtroom, and it's apparent that she knows a thing or two about Hollywood and high profile cases. The dialogue as well as the legal explanations were spot on and, truly, made this book special. In fact, I hope the next Rachel Knight novel has lots of courtrooms scenes too.

KILLER AMBITION had a different feel that the other two novels and I liked that Ms. Clark was able to switch things up a little in this series. Rachel and her friends weren't quite as tough and their actions to "solve" the crime weren't as suspenseful. However, I still found these women to be pretty darn amazing. I love how intelligent and determined they were and that they supported each other. The female friendship angle isn't typical in books like this, and I appreciate how this novel explored their feelings... and especially Rachel's.

For those of you wondering, KILLER AMBITION does work as a stand-alone, but why wouldn't you just start from the beginning of this fantastic series? Recommended to fans of mysteries, legal thrillers, and crime fiction!

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.


bermudaonion said...

I think most books that are over 350 pages could probably be shorter. I'm still anxious to read this book, though! I love Rachel Knight!

rhapsodyinbooks said...

I have yet to try Marcia Clark but I've heard a lot of good things about her books!

Sandy Nawrot said...

Honestly I think that any murder mystery book has no business going over 350 pages, especially not a series! It just isn't justified unless it is something special. I was never really impressed with Marcia throughout the OJ thing but recently I saw her on a talk show and she was quite sharp. I think I may have changed my mind.