“Blood Defense”

by Marcia Clark

(Thomas & Mercer)

The protagonist is no longer a prosecutor as in Marcia Clark’s previous legal dramas in her new book, “Blood Defense.”

In this story, Samantha Brinkman is a Los Angeles criminal defense lawyer who’s struggling to pay her bills and keep her small firm afloat by working cases as the attorney of record.

A shocking prime-time celebrity double-murder case lands in her lap when LAPD homicide detective Dale Pearson is accused of murdering TV star (and sometime drug addict) Chloe Monahan and her roommate, Paige Avner.

After a brief hesitation over working on the side of a lawman, Brinkman jumps at the chance to defend Pearson. She works to dig up reasonable doubt and discover evidence to confuse the jury while facing the trials of visits from former defendants, deceptive witnesses and even her own client, who’s hiding a volatile secret of his own.

The cast of side characters, from Brinkman’s pain-in-the-butt mother to drug dealers and TV journalists — all key to keeping readers on their toes and developing alternate theories of the crime — feel unwieldy on occasion, but like life and the criminal world (at least in fiction), there are many possible paths and false leads to be explored.

Clark, who served as a prosecutor for the trial of O.J. Simpson, clearly knows this world well. She has the most fun when she’s showing readers the world of celebrity trials, from the media circus, the courthouse crowds, the crazies and the police to the inner workings of the trial itself.

You’ll push yourself to finish the final pages just to keep pace with the defense team’s discoveries.

— Jonathan Elderfield


by Louise Erdrich


An accidental fatal shooting of a 5-year-old boy near the boundary of an Indian reservation in North Dakota opens Louise Erdrich’s new novel, detonating a story of revenge, sacrifice and restitution.

While stalking a buck, Landreaux Iron, an Ojibwe man, shoots and kills his neighbors’ son in a moment of inattention. Landreaux, a recovering alcoholic, turns to both tribal traditions and the Catholic faith to hold back a devastating shame that now threatens his stability. He can’t rewind time, but he makes an agonizing attempt at amends by giving the dead boy’s parents his own 5-year-old son, LaRose.

The third novel in a trilogy, “LaRose” resumes an exploration of the blurred bloodlines of people living in and around Ojibwe tribal land and the nearby fictional town of Pluto. Characters return from Erdrich’s “The Plague of Doves” and “The Round House,” including the war-scarred Father Travis, who in his reservation work “had seen how some people would try their best but the worst would still happen.”

Dealing with such unfairness has been the trilogy’s theme. “The Plague of Doves” examined the long shadow of past injustices. “The Round House” uncovered the tricky nature of revenge. In “LaRose,” Erdrich shows how difficult it can be to atone.

Set during the run-up to the Iraq War, the book investigates substitutions, grudges and missteps — sometimes with humor. A character named Romeo nurses a Shakespearean resentment toward Landreaux because of an incident during their childhoods.

It’s a satisfying ending, while also suggesting Erdrich may return to these characters again.

— Carla K. Johnson


Week ending 5/1/2016.

Hardcover fiction

1. “Extreme Prey” by John Sandford (G.P. Putnam’s Sons)

2. “The Last Mile” by David Baldacci (Grand Central Publishing)

3. “The Obsession” by Nora Roberts (Berkley)

4. “The Nest” by Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeney (Ecco)

5. “As Time Goes By” by Mary Higgins Clark (Simon & Schuster)

6. “Fool Me Once’ by Harlan Coben (Dutton)

7. “Eligible” by Curtis Sittenfeld (Random House)

8. “Hide Away” by Iris Johansen (St. Martin’s Press)

9. “Miller’s Valley” by Anna Quindlen (Random House)

10. “Property of a Noblewoman” by Danielle Steel (Delacorte Press)

Hardcover nonfiction

1. “The Rainbow Comes and Goes” by Anderson Cooper and Gloria Vanderbilt (Harper)

2. “When Breath Becomes Air” by Paul Kalanithi (Random House)

3. “The Ideal Team Player” by Paul Kalanithi (Random House)

4. “The Whole30” by Hartwig/Hartwig (HMH)

5. “Cravings” by Chrissy Teigen and Adeena Sussman (Clarkson Potter)

6. “Deskbound” by Kelly Starrett (Victory Belt)

7. “The Third Wave” by Steve Case (Simon & Schuster)

8. “It’s All Easy” by Gwyneth Paltrow (Grand Central Life & Style)

9. “Brave Enough” by Cheryl Strayed (Knopf)

10. “Minimalist Baker’s Everyday Cooking” by Dana Shultz (Avery)

— Publishers Weekly


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