Moral Defense by Marcia Clark: Book Review

Moral Defense by Marcia Clark Book Review

What is this about?: This is the second in the Samantha Brinkman series. I read the first earlier this year and lo and behold, the second one is out already. I don’t know how Marcia Clark does it. But, in this book, Samantha is tasked with defending a 15-year-old girl who is accused of killing her adoptive family.

What else is this about?: Clark juggles a couple of plot links from book one, as well as some other longer plots lines simmering in the background here. She never loses sight of her main storyline, but the others are just as interesting.

Stars: 3.5/5

Blurb: For defense attorney Samantha Brinkman, it’s not about guilt or innocence—it’s about making sure her clients walk. But the case of Cassie Sonnenberg touches a raw nerve in Sam that makes it painfully personal.

A savage attack in a suburban home has left a father and son fatally stabbed, and a mother clinging to life. And Cassie, the family’s adopted teenage daughter, is accused of the bloody crime. It’s a tabloid-ready case that has the nation in an uproar—and Sam facing her biggest challenge. But when she learns the murders were sparked by years of sexual abuse, she doubles down to get Cassie exonerated.

Yet, even as Sam probes the secret past of a seemingly happy family, the dark memories of her own tormented life threaten to consume her. And as Cassie’s story keeps twisting at every turn, in troubling new directions, Sam must fight all the harder to separate dangerous lies from the terrifying truth.

Samantha Brinkman takes no shit and no prisoners. And she will find a way to stall and manipulate her way out of anything, and that makes for the best kind of character to read about.

Ar first, Sam is asked to look after the interests of 15-year-old Cassie who is the witness to her family’s murder — her parents and her brother Abel. Soon enough though, Cassie arrested for their murder and Sam has to defend a teen who is determined to lie to her to protect someone else. Cassie also reveals her father and her brother were abusing her, and that strikes at Sam’s heart, reminding her of everything she went through once herself.

That someone Cassie is protecting becomes part of Sam’s defense strategy for her, but the teen stands firm on her decision to lie to her about this someone else. Thanks to Alex and Michelle, the discover the truth behind Cassie’s story, while Sam is busy juggling several other cases and storylines.

And, like I said before, none of the storylines feel shortchanged. Cassie’s story is the focus of the book, with Michelle, Alex and Dale helping her where they can. Given her own history of abuse, this was bound to affect Sam and that opens up some exploration for her relationship with Dale — as does the case he brings her.

The thing with Sam is that sometimes, when the bad guys are on the verge of getting away with some serious shit, she … will exact her own kind of justice. She’s quiet, ruthless and efficient … but sometimes that’s not enough, sometimes she gets caught and has to wiggle her way out of trouble.

As with book one, the blurb doesn’t shout to the world that there are huge twists in the story, though it would be well within its rights to do so. Clark is building a complicated set of characters and a series that will be noted for its equally complex storylines, one that will sneak up on your and surprise you with the power of her storytelling. 


  • Kelly says:

    I read a review for this one not too long ago who has enjoyed the series as well Verushka, but had no idea The author was a prosecutor in the OJ Simpson trial. It’s much more authentic when authors can drawn on those very real experiences. Although it’s a series, could they be read out of order or as standalones?

    Brilliant review Verushka, might nab a Kindle edition this weekend <3

    • Verushka says:

      I honestly don’t remember the original trial AT ALL but watching the mini series a lot of how she was treated in the media back then and the focus on her status, kids, being a mother started to get mentioned in articles and it was damn unfair — but she survived it. Even though she lost the case she came out with a huge publishing deal (my research revealed later). I think they could be read as standalones — the relationships evolve and there are some secondary characters that appear again in this… but you know how some authors just give you everything you should know anyway? That’s what she does here — she gives you enough to know what’s happening and why. she’s building a fully fledged universe for Sam, and it’s quite good to get in at the beginning in a matter of speaking (this is only book 2 after all 🙂

  • Crime is definitely not my thing as far as genres goes but it seems this author is something huh? first hand knowledge and good storyteller that little padawan seem to be. Hope you enjoy the rest of the series as Clark develops it more.

  • Suzanne says:

    Oh wow, I had no idea Marcia Clark wrote crime novels. This sounds like a pretty good series too. I always enjoy a complex story with plenty of plot twists. Thanks for pointing it out to me. Excellent review as always 🙂

    • Verushka says:

      I only found out after seeing the OJ Simpson mini series last year and wondering what happened to her. Apparently, she had one of the biggest publishing deals in ages!

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