"Blood Defense" (Thomas & Mercer), by Marcia Clark
The protagonist is no longer a prosecutor as in Marcia Clark's previous legal dramas in her new book, "Blood Defense."
In this story, Samantha Brinkman is a Los Angeles criminal defense lawyer who's struggling to pay her bills and keep her small firm afloat by working cases as the attorney of record.
A shocking prime-time celebrity double-murder case lands in her lap when LAPD homicide detective Dale Pearson is accused of murdering TV star (and sometime drug addict) Chloe Monahan and her roommate, Paige Avner.
After a brief hesitation over working on the side of a lawman, Brinkman jumps at the chance to defend Pearson. She works to dig up reasonable doubt and discover evidence to confuse the jury while facing the trials of visits from former defendants, deceptive witnesses and even her own client, who's hiding a volatile secret of his own.
The cast of side characters, from Brinkman's pain-in-the-butt mother to drug dealers and TV journalists — all key to keeping readers on their toes and developing alternate theories of the crime — feel unwieldy on occasion, but like life and the criminal world (at least in fiction), there are many possible paths and false leads to be explored.
Clark, who served as a prosecutor for the trial of O.J. Simpson, clearly knows this world well. She has the most fun when she's showing readers the world of celebrity trials, from the media circus, the courthouse crowds, the crazies and the police to the inner workings of the trial itself.
You'll push yourself to finish the final pages just to keep pace with the defense team's discoveries.