ago, when Marcia Clark was a criminal defense attorney,
she took great pains to remind jurors that she wasnít
job was to create reasonable doubt and to get an
acquittal for the client ó not to prove who really had
committed the crime.
that Clark writes courtroom thrillers, however, the
rules have changed. She has to be Erle Stanley Gardner.
Brinkman, the scrappy defense lawyer that Clark
introduces in the pages of "Blood Defense,"
must clear her client of a double murder by solving the
mystery and by identifying the true killer ó and she
had better do it with panache or readers will be
irony is not lost on me," Clark says. "But Iím
a reader of this genre myself and I would be upset, too,
with anything less. Like everyone else, I want an
Sam stresses many times in the book that the burden of
proof is on the prosecution, that it is not her burden.
Yet, in the course of finding a fall guy, in the course
of finding someone to point a finger at, she will solve
this crime. It simply has to be that way."
became a household name two decades ago as the lead
prosecutor in the 1995 O.J. Simpson murder trial. In
2011, she made her debut as a mystery novelist with
"Guilt by Association," the first of four
thrillers featuring Rachel Knight of the L.A. District
Attorneyís Office and Special Trials Unit.
that Clark has switched allegiances to the defense, we
decided to check in and find out why.
What compelled you to focus your new book on a defense
Mostly, I just wanted to branch out. I wanted to do
other things and go other places with my characters and
my stories. Rachel Knight, the prosecutor, was one side
of things. But when I write from the point of view of
the defense, I have much more latitude.
character can be a little twisted. And in terms of
story, I can swing for the fences.
also thought, "Iíd like to write a character that
encompasses my other experiences as a lawyer." Not
only was I a defense attorney, but Iím doing it again,
although now from the side of criminal appeals. What I
do is I review transcripts and look for errors, so itís
a different thing, but itís still defense-oriented.
Samantha Brinkman has a lot on her plate. In addition to
her big case (an L.A. police detective charged with
killing a famous actress and her roommate), Sam has a
slew of other clients, some quite unsavory. She also has
a side gig going as a legal analyst on TV.
readers will ultimately discover that Sam is, to use
your word, twisted. She has some dark secrets that will
be problematic for her in future books if the world
finds out about them.
Iíve already written the second book in the series ó
itís called "Moral Defense" ó and you are
right. Things are set up in "Blood Defense"
and certain events take place that are pulled through to
the next book.
will be a new crime, for sure, but the issues that are
hatched in "Blood Defense" are definitely
going to come back to haunt her. Itís going to get
Is it a challenge to stay current when writing legal
thrillers? Maybe courtroom procedure doesnít radically
change, but forensics techniques do and the technology
used in gathering information does. And you have to keep
up to speed, right?
You bet. Thatís why itís helpful that Iím still
practicing. When I handle these criminal appeals, I can
see what kind of evidence theyíre using in court today
and I can incorporate that in the novel. Most of the
advances in forensics right now are with the speed with
which they can analyze DNA.
thing thatís interesting is the cellphone technology,
the ways people can be tracked and found. That has made
some great leaps and advances. When you use your
cellphone, we can tell where you are approximately ó
and that can help solve a crime. I use that in
Weíll close with a question unrelated to your book:
Did you watch "American Crime Story: The People v.
O.J. Simpson," the recent TV series that aired on
FX? What did you think about the show and about Sarah
Paulsonís portrayal of you?
I enjoyed the series, although maybe "enjoy"
isnít the right word.
was a nightmarish experience when I lived it, ugly from
start to finish, and it was difficult to relive. With
all the media hype and the craziness of that case, I
often felt people forgot that two innocent people were
the series brought that frustration back to me full
it was gratifying to see that they got big issues
correct, especially the issue of race and the way that
it had an impact on everything in the trial. And the
acting was phenomenal. Sarah Paulson is a genius. She
gave such a beautiful, nuanced performance.
hard for me to say what most people thought of me then
versus what they think of me now. But I have heard some
people say that, after watching the series, they see me
differently, that there were things they sensed about me
that the series proved untrue and unfair. If that really
is the case, yeah, Iím glad.