Clark hits stride with ‘Moral Defense’
“Moral Defense” (Thomas & Mercer), by Marcia Clark
“Moral Defense” by former Los Angeles prosecutor Marcia Clark has it all: a hard-charging lawyer heroine, tough-as-nails cops, realistic, yet somehow lovable “bad guys,” as well as fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants pacing and page-turning twists.
Say what you will about her performance during O.J. Simpson’s 1995 criminal trial, Clark has more than proven her writing chops in her sixth novel — her second featuring Samantha Brinkman, a tough, but fair criminal defense attorney who’s always just a half-step away from bankruptcy as she strives to build her practice.
Sam, along with Michelle, her childhood best-friend paralegal who manages to keep her grounded, and Alex, her sexy, gay investigator who turns on the charm at all the right times, form a likable trio.
In the first book of the series, Sam is trying to prove her mettle in the cutthroat world of criminal defense. In the follow-up, “Moral Defense,” she’s landed herself in the headlines when she’s brought in as an advocate for 15-year-old Cassie, who survived a brutal attack that left her father and brother dead and her mother in a coma. When the situation flips and Cassie becomes the target of the investigation, Sam quickly gets herself embroiled in a complicated and emotionally wrenching case that leaves her tapped out.
If one tangled story line isn’t enough, Clark weaves in two others — one featuring a gangbanger on the run and the other, her former client/father whom we first met in the previous novel. At times, it feels like overkill, but it also leaves readers wondering if juggling multiple cases at one time, if not frenetic, is also more realistic.