“Moral Defense” by Marcia Clark brings back defense attorney Samantha (Sam) Brinkman. This second novel of the series is as riveting and suspenseful as the first, “Blood Defense.” What makes these novels by Clark unique is that within gripping crimes she allows the readers to gain a glimpse of the inner workings of the judicial system.
In this book there are four sub-plots. Samantha promises her dad, LAPD Detective Dale Pearson, to investigate the allegations of excessive force by his peer, Detective Kevin Hausch; the Oroczo family, gang members who expect Samantha to find who secretly arranged for Arturo to be killed; and DeShawn Johnson who needs her help in getting some drug dealers off his back. But these all take a backseat to the main plot, where an adoptive girl, Cassie Sonnenberg kills her mother, father, and brother. Tiegan Donner, Cassie’s teacher and counselor, begs Sam to be her representive. After deciding to become her advocate Sam must sift through the many accounts, including the possibility of abuse by her brother and father. Because of her own past demons Sam finds this case touches some very personal memories. She must find out for herself if Cassie is innocent or guilty and come up with a defense.
What makes these books interesting is how Clark interjects into the storyline her legal background, allowing for realism. People unaware of what happens behind the scenes of the judicial system are able to learn about it.
“This is the biggest question mark; how to work with a client who committed a hideous crime?” Clark said. “From the defense point of view you are requiring the prosecution to have the burden of proof. There are checks and balances we need to have a fair system of justice. A lot of times it’s getting a fair conviction. Sometimes the prosecution can over file a case or overcharge the defendant. The goal is to make the punishment fit the crime.”
Clark finds a way to have justice prevail, even with hardcore clients. An example of this was her culpability in the killing of a dangerous client who was sent to prison. Samantha is not a clear-cut heroine. She is scarred, tough, intelligent, and capable of morally dubious behavior with a private code of justice.
She wants people to understand “it is usually the defense attorney endangered by these clients. As a prosecutor for ten years before the Simpson trial I was very aware of the tensions between the minorities and LAPD. Because cell phones were not prevalent people did not hear about it. Now they show it and show it, and it becomes public within seconds. But cops are frustrated because people will only speak to them anonymously so cases can never get proven.”
She further stated, “Gang injunction. This makes it hard for them to move around the community. Cops have an easier time yanking them up and throwing them in jail. They start to move out of the neighborhoods because it is too hard to do business. Because they had been terrorizing the neighborhoods this is one way to deal with them, especially since kids realize they cannot survive unless they join the gang. It is like a cancer that hits the community.”
In “Moral Defense” Marcia Clark has many twists and turns, including an ending that will shock the reader. There are surprises at every corner. Anyone who enjoys legal thrillers should read this book.