5 stars out of 5
Wow - two for two! The author's first book featuring defense attorney Samantha Brinkman, Blood Defense, was fantastic. If anything, this one, of which I also received an advance copy courtesy of the publisher, is even more so. If I could give it 6 stars, I would!
This installment, for the record, can stand on its own, but I'm sure I got a bit more out of it by reading the other one first (always my advice when dealing with a series, by the way). "Friends" from the first book return; Samantha, of course, and her longtime friend Michele and hacker-investigator Alex, both of whom work at Sam's law firm. The story begins when Sam is asked to look into the gruesome murder of a father and son and near murder of the mother, who's in the hospital and in a coma, on behalf of their adopted daughter Cassie. She was, it seems, a witness at the murder scene and is understandably traumatized.
Almost from the beginning, Sam feels a certain kinship with Cassie and signs on to help. But as more details of the murders unravel, Sam runs head-first into a psychological dilemma of tremendous magnitude. Is Cassie telling the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth?
While that case becomes ever more complex, issues from a couple of other cases rear their ugly heads - possibly putting Sam in the crosshairs of some especially nasty people. And in any of the case scenarios, including Cassie's, things could (and most likely will) head south at the slightest turn of events. All the main characters get a goodly amount of face time (perhaps with the exception of Michelle), and we learn of their strong points and peccadilloes. Samantha, in particular, comes from a lurid background and has, probably as a result, what I'll term a quirky side; she's almost as prone to ignoring the law as she is to breaking her neck trying to get her clients acquitted whether or not they're guilty.
The result is plenty of twists, turns and deadly serious head games that kept me hanging on just about every word. As I neared the end, in fact, anyone attempting to pry my Kindle out of my hands would have felt a wrath greater than that which I bestow on those who unwittingly expect me to speak to them before I've had my first cup of coffee in the morning.
In short, whew! Super book, super series. More, please?
Moral Defense by Marcia Clark (Thomas & Mercer, November 2016); 426 pp.