Blood Defense (Samantha Brinkman #1), by Marcia Clark

Seven stars

Launching her new legal series, Clark introduces the reader to defence attorney Samantha Brinkman. While she is hard-working, Brinkman struggles with a bare-bones staff; her best friend as receptionist and a recently-released criminal as investigator. Brinkman and Associates put their hearts into their cases, but cannot seem to find a way out of a sea of debt. After the murder of television star, Chloe Monahan, and her roommate, the city is abuzz with speculation. Who would want to kill such a sweet young woman in cold blood? Brinkman uses her time as a regular on some of the television legal shows to garner some personal attention by discussing the in passing. Her lack of prestige is dwarfed by her knowledge and leaves her wondering if she could ever net representing the accused. News leaks that the accused killer is a police officer, Dale Pearson, who surprises everyone when he arrives on the doorstep of Brinkman and Associates. They rush to sign him up and begin their own investigation, which is more difficult than first expected. Pearson’s past consistently butts up against media reports and Brinkman must succumb to the possibility that her client is guilty and it is only a matter of time before the truth comes out. It is not enough that Pearson had an unethical relationship with one of the victims, but his record with women leaves much to be desired. A shocking revelation forges a bond of sorts between Brinkman and Pearson, which helps to solidify their attempts to dismiss the charges. Working every angle on a shoestring budget, Brinkman begins to uncover some telling facts and discovers that there is more to these murders than simply an argument between Chloe and Pearson. However, proof is harder to acquire when dealing with those who wish to railroad an easy target. With the trial looming, Brinkman will have to bring more than speculation and a stellar opening argument to acquit her client. Clark presents this great legal thriller that does not slow down and keeps the reader wondering at every turn. 

Being a great fan of Clark’s Rachel Knight series, I had high hopes with this novel. However, it took a while for me to warm up to the story and its characters, as they were not as refined or driven by success. After taking some time to get acclimated, it is the contrast of the Samantha Brinkman character that makes her one the reader can enjoy. A strong protagonist who has little but her mental acuity and a thirst for justice, Brinkman chooses to run her practice above board and struggles at every turn. She rubs elbows with the lesser element, but is not sullied. The story is one not only of legal antics, but personal self-discovery, where Brinkman pushes back against a mother who expects her to forge a reputation based on money rather than integrity. A strong narrative and fast-paced dialogue helps the story to flow from initial investigation to a courtroom drama, pulling on many of Clark’s experiences as a trial attorney. Brinkman, like Knight, may be a force to be reckoned with, given time and a favourable reaction by readers. I cannot see how this could be an issue for those who enjoy entertaining fiction.

Kudos, Madam Clark for taking the time to develop a new character readers can enjoy. More women in legal thrillers who take charge will certainly add nuances to a male-saturated genre.