The basics: Blood Defense introduces Samantha Brinkman, a defense attorney struggling to make a name for herself. She appears as a defense expert frequently on a new talk show, but her office is in the heart of gang territory, and she lacks high profile, paying clients. That changes when she takes the case of Dale, an LAPD detective charged in the double homicide of Chloe, a starlet and his girlfriend, and Paige, Chloe's roommate.
My thoughts: The mystery at the heart of this novel is who killed Chloe and Paige. The mystery drives the narrative and offers insights into Samantha's interior monologue. There are other small storylines featuring other clients on low or no-profile cases that offer a nice glimpse into the working life of a defense attorney, but the murders of Chloe and Paige is the focus. It's clear why Dale looks guilty, but it's satisfyingly murky if he actually did. There's plenty of circumstantial evidence, of course, but that leaves plenty of room for reasonable doubt. Samantha and her investigator, a hacker and former client, work hard to find other theories of the crime. Samantha struggles to both find another theory she can use in the courtroom and to figure out if Dale actually did it or not.
The verdict: I was ambivalent about Samantha as a character for most of this novel. I found the primary mystery quite compelling, but the final pages found me sitting with my jaw open, followed by squealing and immediately pre-ordering Moral Defense, the second novel in the series, which will be published November 8, 2016. I'm fully, ecstatically on Team Brinkman, and I cannot wait to see what she does next.
Rating: 5 out of 5
Length: 400 pages
Publication date: May 1, 2016
Source: personal copy
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