The basics: Los Angeles Deputy District Attorney Rachel Knight ends up taking on the challenging case of a murdered homeless man, still unidentified, when she witnesses a fellow district attorney bungle the case in court. Rachel recruits detective Bailey Keller, also one of her two best friends, to help her solve the case.
My thoughts: Although it wasn't a perfect mystery, I adored Guilt by Association and Rachel Knight so much I started Guilt by Degrees as soon as I finished it. Some time has passed in the story between the two books, but Clark jumps right back into the action. What begins as an ordinary day in court for Rachel Knight soon becomes a game changer. So little is known about the case initially, but Rachel and Bailey slowly start to discover the details. The more they learn about the victim and the case, the less sense things to make, which is a plot device I love in police procedurals (provided it eventually comes together and makes sense.) The case is brilliantly complicated, and Clark doesn't show her hand too soon.
I particularly appreciated the pace of this mystery. It built slowly, which allowed Rachel's personal life to shine for much of the novel. The balance between her work and personal life ebbed and flowed in conjunction with progress on the case. Simultaneously, the reader learns much more about Rachel's backstory, and it's a complicated, fascinating mystery in its own right.
The verdict: The mystery at the heart of Guilt by Degrees is more skillfully executed than in Clark's first novel. Rachel Knight and her supporting cast of characters also continue to grow, and while Rachel's backstory isn't moving forward quite as quickly as I'd like it to, it certainly leaves me wanting more.
Rating: 4.5 out of 5
Length: 449 pages
Publication date: May 8, 2012
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