Final Judgment (Samantha Brinkman #4), by Marcia Clark

Eight stars

First and foremost, a large thank you to NetGalley, Marcia Clark, and Thomas & Mercer for providing me with a copy of this publication, which allows me to provide you with an unbiased review.

After a hiatus, Marcia Clark is back with another strong Samantha Brinkman legal thriller that hits home more than the other books in the series. While on vacation with her boyfriend, Niko, Samantha is rushed back to LA to deal with an investment issue. It would seem that Niko’s mother was taken in by a cryptocurrency scam that saw her lose a great deal of money. While they two men heading up the investment are apologetic, they are not confident about being able to reimburse their clients. Niko takes this less than calmly and Samantha soon sees a darker and more intense side. When one of the investors turns up dead in his home, all eyes turn to Niko, as the cause of death is internal decapitation, skill Niko knows well. All the same, Niko proclaims that he is innocent, though admits he is trained to kill when needed. Samantha agrees to represent him and the search for the truth begins. While Samantha handles some of her other legal work, the office team begins digging a little deeper, only to discover that Niko has a past in Chicago that he likely did not want discovered. As Samantha must digest this, things begin looking worse for her client as the court date approaches. Lies and deceit are nothing a defence attorney likes in their client, but when it’s a boyfriend, it is exponentially worse. Samantha will have to make a few choices as Niko’s guilt looks more likely. Will she choose wisely for all involved? A wonderful story that keeps the reader guessing. Recommended to those who have enjoyed this series (and all of Clark’s work), as well as the reader who needs a legal thriller that can be digested with ease.

I have long enjoyed Marcia Clark’s work, as she reinvent herself after the infamous trial that made her a household name. She works hard to create relatable characters and stories that can be easily enjoyed, even if they touch on some controversial subjects. Samantha Brinkman has been a wonderfully complex character, as the four novels in the series have come to show her. She is strong-willed, but also vulnerable when it suits her. She is gritty and determined without being cold. This story pushes her into a realm she might not have known before and requires that she make choices that will clash with her emotional well-being. Other characters help to push the story forward, while complementing Brinkman in a variety of ways, which enriches the overall experience. The story is strong and kept me pushing forward. Perhaps it is that there has not been a novel in a few years, but I was hungering for as much as I could get in short order. A mix of chapters kept me wanting to push ahead and I was impressed with all Clark had to offer. I hope there is more to come soon, as this is one fan who is not as patient as some.

Kudos, Madam Clark, for another winner. I cannot wait to see what’s next for Samantha or your other projects.

A Book for All Seasons, a different sort of Book Challenge:

Snap Judgment (Samantha Brinkman #3), by Marcia Clark

Eight stars

First and foremost, a large thank you to NetGalley, Marcia Clark and Thomas & Mercer for providing me with a copy of this publication, which allows me to provide you with an unbiased review.

Marcia Clark is back with the third instalment of the Samantha Brinkman series, perhaps the best novel yet. After Alicia Hutchins is tired of her controlling boyfriend, Roan Sutton, she chooses to dump him to relieve herself of the burden. In an act of apparent retribution, naked selfies of Alicia appear online for all to see. This ‘revenge porn’ puts Alicia in a tailspin and her body is found a short time later. Might Roan have taken the next step and killed the young woman who sought to defy him? It would appear so, though the ante is raised yet again, after Roan’s body is discovered a short time later, hanging from the ceiling. Early conclusions point to suicide, but Alicia’s father, Graham, is being eyed by the police as the case could have a homicidal element. Enter Samantha Brinkman, whose criminal work has earned her quite the reputation. Brinkman agrees to take on the case, loving the price tag that goes along with it, and tries to delve even deeper into the investigation. Working alongside her investigator, Alex Medrano, Brinkman begins to peel back the layers of the case, unsure what they will find. Alicia seemed to have been a sheltered young woman who was finally coming out of her shell while interacting with other college students. Could Roan and his controlling ways have been used on other women before Alicia? Might the revenge porn angle be one that he has used before? As questions about the case continue to emerge, Brinkman is visited one night by a man with deep roots in the cartel community. He’s come to call in on a favour that Brinkman has promised him after she was caught breaking the law for another client. Brinkman has been ordered to find a witness who is in protective custody, ready to finger a member of this elusive man’s family. Unable to turn to Alex, who is unaware of Brinkman’s law breaking, she turns to her father, Dale Pearson. Together, they must grease the wheels to find this young woman, whose life story brings up more dirt than either could have imagined. Tales of abuse and molestation, with a handful of younger sisters still at home, Brinkman finds pity for the woman in custody and will do whatever she can to protect her from the death that awaits her once she has been outed by the cartel. Working these two major cases and a slew of other meat and potatoes, Brinkman has little time for herself. Trouble is, there is a time limit on both and patience is not a virtue anyone seems to have for the time being. A wonderfully crafted piece of work that will keep the reader guessing until the very end. Highly recommended for legal thriller fans and those who enjoy the fast-paced writing that makes Clark a master of the genre.

Whatever people seem to feel about Clark in her past life, she has shown that she has the ability to craft excellent legal thrillers that do not miss a beat. Filled with relatable storylines and themes that could easier pulled from the headlines, Clark pulls the reader in from the opening paragraphs and provides enough drama to keep them hooked until the very end. Samantha Brinkman is both a complex and easily relatable character. Not only is she a lawyer with a solid reputation, but she is keen on fighting for her clients and will leave no stone unturned. Her jaded past has not left her defeated, but fuels her to find the best in everyone, or at least to see past their outer layers. She remains determined to discover the whole story, even if it places her clients in an uncomfortable position. Surrounding herself with the likes of Alex and Michy, her office runs effectively and her caseload is anything but boring. A recently discovered father in Dale Pearson has helped her find someone in whom she can feel familial pride, though their relationship is anything but traditional parent-child. Clark injects secondary characters who keep the story moving forward and fuel interesting twists to keep the reader curious throughout. The story takes legal and personal turns that no only make for a great story but are plausible, permitting the reader to feel at home as they lose themselves in the book. Clark’s legal past and blunt delivery help create a story that has everything needed for a superior legal thriller. I cannot wait to see what else Clark has is store for her readers and where she will take Brinkman in the years to come. And the question that I have been asking for a while now, when will Rachel Knight ever make an appearance in Samantha’s life?

Kudos, Madam Clark for another wonderful novel. I am amazed at how thoroughly captivated I am by everything you write. I know you have a large following, and for good reason!