Book Banter — Guilt by Association

associationTitle: Guilt by Association

Author: Marcia Clark

Genre: legal/mystery

Length: ~350 pages

Where Bethany’ Copy Came From: The Indianapolis Public Library

Plot Basics: Rachel Knight is a work-a-holic assistant DA in LA and her colleague Jake is the same way. When Jake turns up dead with a teenage boy in a seedy motel, Rachel is convinced that the press has the case wrong. Meanwhile, she’s assigned to prosecute in a case involving rape of a major donor to the city’s DA. With the help of Detective Bailey Keller, Rachel looks in to both cases, sure the cases aren’t what they seem.

Banter Points: Marcia Clark (yep, the one who prosecuted the OJ case) is now writing novels and the first one is a darn good read. She’s going to be at Murder and Mayhem and I’m looking forward to meeting her.

This was a page-turner for sure. Rachel’s got a distinct voice that’s confident and at times sarcastic. It’s a consistent tone that propels the story along. Of course, the voice is helped by a great plot that’s a great mix of police procedural, amateur sleuth and legal drama.

All of those things are great, but there was one detail that clinched this book for me. Rachel lives at the Biltmore Hotel in LA. I’ve stayed there (amazingly) for work and know that the rooms run in the neighborhood of $200 a night. Early in the novel, there are a few mentions of trying to watch her money. Then, when the tires of Rachel’s Honda get slashed as a threat, she wonders about how she can afford a new set. I had a moment of incongruity, that here’s a woman living in an expensive hotel and she’s worried about affording tires? This is one of those detail things that makes me nuts because it yanks me out of a story. Then, then, a few chapters later, Rachel explains that the hotel owners are giving her a break on the cost as a favor for a past case. With that, the whole set-up clicked together and Rachel’s money worries were acceptable, her living arrangements no longer yanking me out of the story. (Truth, yanking me out as much. I had a rather wretched experience at the Los Angeles Biltmore. Rachel’s room must be closer to the Wi-Fi router for reliable internet access and must not be right next to the elevators dinging their arrival on my floor through all hours of the night.)

Bummer Points: I was really bummed about the murder victim, frankly. Jake is introduced in the first chapter or two and I really thought he was going to be a great secondary character and friend for Rachel, and then he ended up dead. While it’s bummer, I guess it’s really a testament to how good her writing is that she made me care about this character in just a few pages so that I was right there with Rachel’s desire to figure out what happened to this guy.

Word Nerd Recommendation: I’ve already convinced one mystery fan here at work to give these books a whirl.

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