A third case that adds still more evidence for Los Angeles attorney Samantha Brinkman’s default attitude toward her criminal-defense practice: “I pretty much assume all my clients are guilty.”
Pushed beyond endurance by her manically possessive boyfriend, Roan Sutton, USC freshman Alicia Hutchins voicemails him a Dear John message, but it’s too late: soon after she realizes he’s converted her nude selfies to revenge porn, she’s found in her bathtub with her throat slashed. Would Brinkman & Associates defend Sutton on a possible murder charge? “Not if we were starving and living in Tent City,” Samantha tells Alex Medrano, her investigator. In fact, she’s already lost her chance, for shortly after the LAPD identifies the spurned lover as a person of interest, he too is found dead, an apparent suicide—unless it’s murder, as his mother, Audrey Sutton, says early and often to any media flack who’ll listen. Alicia’s father, noted attorney Graham Hutchins, wants Samantha to defend him against possible homicide charges, but he’d be better off if she could just prevent him from responding to Audrey’s charges in self-destructive ways that stoke the fires of public opinion. Nor is he Samantha’s only problem client. Uber-ganglord Javier Cabazon, to whom she owes a serious favor (Moral Defense, 2016), politely demands that she locate Tracy Gopeck, the primary witness against Cabazon’s nephew for killing a rival gangbanger, so that Cabazon’s goons can liquidate her. It won’t be easy to find someone who’s been taken into protective custody, and even if it were, Samantha can’t condone turning her over to Cabazon’s tender mercies. But it’s as hard to say no to the fearsome Cabazon as it is to stem the tide of public opinion.
As usual, Clark plots as generously as her Scandinavian counterparts, though neither the stalwart regular cast nor the interchangeable suspects are interesting enough to keep up the tension for almost 500 pages.