Book Banter — Killer Ambition

ambitionTitle: Killer Ambition (Rachel Knight #3)

Author: Marcia Clark

Genre: legal thriller

Length: ~400 pages

Plot Basics: When Los Angeles Special Trials Deputy District Attorney Rachel Knight gets involved in a high-profile kidnapping case, the trial could make or break her career. A Hollywood favorite is accused of kidnapping and murder and the evidence may not be enough for a win. As Rachel’s trial plays out on national TV, she, Detective Bailey Keller and her new second chair DA Declan Shackner must find the evidence that will cinch their case.

Banter Points: Clark swaps the streets of LA for the courtroom in her third book. Instead of having Rachel running all around for evidence, she’s in the courtroom for the bulk of the book in a case that feels surprisingly like a certain other case that Clark knows well. The accused is a high profile person, public opinion may be against Rachel from the get-go and the evidence, while there, is perhaps not as solid as she would like.

Rachel’s second chair DA, Declan, is a new favorite character. I wanted Jake to be a character back in book one and then managed to get murdered, so this was nice to introduce a male colleague who wasn’t presented as a putz. (Rachel’s boss is mediocre and the fictional LA DA is a hand-shaking, crowd-pleaser.) Declan helps balance Rachel out and he really gets to shine toward the end of the book and I hope he makes further appearances in future books.

Bummer Points: Maybe for people who weren’t on the mock trial team in high school or who never attended arraignment hearings when the cops reporter was on vacation or covered the state’s prosecution of county DA for accepting bribes, all the legal proceedings are fascinating. Personally, I thought the book got a little long in the middle with all the legal procedure, especially in the jury selection scenes. We saw Rachel and Bailey collect evidence… and then we saw it all presented again during trial and dissected during directs and cross-examinations.

Word Nerd Recommendation: I still like the book, though my “bummer point” may make it sound like I didn’t. It was a fun mystery and a good entry overall into the series. I’ll keep reading.

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