Book Banter — Guilt by Degrees

degreesTitle: Guilt by Degrees (Rachel Knight #2)

Author: Marcia Clark

Length: 438 pages

Genre: legal mystery

Where Bethany’s Copy Came From: The Indianapolis Public Library

Plot Basics: Los Angeles Special Trials deputy D.A. Rachel Knight tackles a seemingly impossible case — the murder of homeless man, identity unknown. With the help of Detective Bailey Keller, Rachel digs in to the case, even though as a Special Trials DA, she shouldn’t be working a “routine” case. Still, Rachel can’t shake the feeling that someone is watching her every move and the feeling intensifies as she uncovers more and more bits of the truth. Rachel and Bailey find themselves untangling layers of blackmail even as they are targeted by a psychopath.

Banter Points: I had the opportunity to sit down with Marcia Clark on Saturday and you’ll get to read my interview with her soon. Reading her first two books was “homework” to prep for the interview, but it was fun homework to be sure. I enjoy Rachel’s strong and sometimes snarky voice. Just like in the first book, the tone was backed up with a tight plot.

This book hooked me with its consistent build in action and the “unsolve-ability” of the case that Rachel takes. She’s fighting for a nobody that others are willing to dismiss and taking to task people who aren’t doing their jobs fully. Second, Rachel’s past was hinted at some in the first book but that history was more fully explored in this one. It was a great teaser and example of not telling all at the start of the series. That history is still out there to haunt her and I’m looking forward to the next book and how more of it may get resolved (or not.)

Bummer Points: It’s a good plot, but I couldn’t help but think about “Gone Girl” in the way it played out. At the risk of spoilers, the plot centers on a married couple and who might be blackmailing whom. It doesn’t rise to the level of twistedness of “Gone Girl’s” Nick and Amy Dunne, but there were enough similarities that it made me think of it. Interestingly, the two books were published around the same time making me wonder if good ideas (in general) come to more than one person at once.

The other thing that I’m just learning to live with in mystery books is the head-hops into the mind of the villain. Every time that happens in a mystery book, I say it here in the bummer points. Every time I think the book would be stronger without them. Does anyone feel differently about these? What am I missing? 

Word Nerd Recommendation: I’ve already pushed these books to the security guard here at work who’s an avid reader. I’ve got book three checked out and was thrilled to have Marcia tell me book four is done and five is in the works. This is a series I’m sticking with for sure.

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