Snap Judgement: Topical foray into issues facing women today

Snap Judgment book review

What is this about?: Samantha Brinkman is asked to investigate the murder of a young student, and daughter of a colleague. But as she does, she discovers that her client is hiding secrets, but so was his daughter, and far too many people who could all be suspects.

What else is this about?: Revenge porn is a big part of this story, as well as issues of consent that come up in another case entirely. But overall, Clark has taken two topical issues in our society today and woven a brutal takedown of the crap women have to deal with.

Stars: 3.5/5

Blurb: In the third installment of Marcia Clark’s bestselling series, attorney Samantha Brinkman’s investigation into a family’s deadly secrets is compromised by a threat from her past.

When the daughter of prominent civil litigator Graham Hutchins is found with her throat slashed, the woman’s spurned ex-boyfriend seems the likely suspect. But only days later, the young man dies in what appears to be a suicide. Or was it? Now authorities are faced with a possible new crime. And their person of interest is Hutchins. After all, avenging the death of his daughter is the perfect reason to kill. If he’s as innocent as he claims, only one lawyer has what it takes to prove it: his friend and colleague Samantha Brinkman.

It’s Sam’s obligation to trust her new client. Yet the deeper she digs on his behalf, the more entangled she becomes in a thicket of family secrets, past betrayals, and multiple motives for murder. To win her case, she’s prepared to bend any law and cross any boundary that stands in her way. Sam has always played by her own rules, and it’s always worked…so far. But this case cuts so deep and so personal that one false move could cost her everything.

I’ve reviewed the previous two books in the series here, and was thoroughly impressed with how Clark has maintained momentum with Snap Judgment.

Her case

Alicia is a young girl attending college away from home for the very first time. She is her parents’ golden girl and only child, so that she’s away from home and their pressures is freedom to her. But, instead she finds herself  with a controlling boyfriend instead of parents — Roan wants her to call three times a day, and wants to know everything she does. When Alicia tries to break free of him, she discovers he’s posted selfies she sent to him on a revenge porn site. After that she’s murdered and suspicion naturally falls on him… but then he’s murdered and suspicion falls on Graham, Sam’s client and colleague and Alicia’s father. 

This is the main case driving the story, and along with Alex and Michy, Sam dives headlong into trying to prove her client’s innocence. Clark’s pacing is spot on, interspersing this case with another series-long problem that Sam is facing, which I’ll get into in a bit. But also, her characters are flawed and easy to relate to, Sam most of all. 

She’s brusque, she takes no shit and she will lie to anyone she has to — even her closest friends if it gets her what she wants. In this case, she’s surrounded by young students, free of home and parents and trying everything and anything, and all are viable suspects. Clark keeps readers guessing about these characters, never revealing any more than she has to until she’s ready.

This is a tightly plotted narrative, that throws a ton of curves into Sam’s path before she realises just how complicated Graham and Alicia’s lives are. The case is far more complex and darker than anyone realises, and Clark doesn’t shy away from the consequences of revenge porn, of the pain it wreaks.

The ending wasn’t anything like I expected, but with it came a gut punch of sadness — for her parents and for Alicia, who could see no way past the consequences of those photos on the internet. Clark is brutal and stark through Alicia’s experience, and it is horrifying to know that there are women out there experiencing this, and who may have no way out. 

Sam, Dale and Cabazon

Sam and Dale, her father, still owe Cabazon (the gangster who saved their asses previously) a favour, and he calls it in when he asks them to find a witness to a murder — a murder his favourite nephew has been arrested for. Small problem, the woman is in protective custody, which means Dale and Sam have to do a lot of fast-talking and lying to get the answers they need. Cabazon is a threat that has been looming over them since book two, and here his presence looms large in his efforts to save his nephew. This too isn’t a a simple case, and forces Sam to take risks Dale isn’t completely aware of.

There’s a fearlessness to Sam, stomping in to situations that are liable to get her killed. Thus far, she’s managed to save herself, but I would venture a guess that this can’t last forever.

Alex and Michy

They are still Sam’s friends and colleagues, and will follow her into anything she asks. But, here’s the biggie: she’s lying to them and placing them in danger just by virtue of being close to her. It feels like one day the consequences of her choices are going to be visited back on them, I already hate the thought of and am ready and waiting to see what happens with Sam when it does. 


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