Friday, December 15, 2017
Books

Review: Marcia Clark weaves real legal world, fictional intrigue in 'Killer Ambition'

Marcia Clark first became nationally known in 1991 as the lead prosecutor in O.J. Simpson's murder trial. She has followed that up with a career as a legal commentator on various broadcast and cable channels (weighing in recently on the George Zimmerman case) — and as a novelist.

Killer Ambition is the third book in her series of legal thrillers about Los Angeles prosecutor Rachel Knight, and Clark puts her experience as a prosecutor in Los Angeles to effective use in this juicy, fast-paced tale of murder and vengeance in Hollywood.

Knight has the same job Clark once held, as a prosecutor in the Special Trials unit, which handles high-profile cases — and that's just what the apparent kidnapping of Hayley Antonovich looks like. Hayley is the pretty 16-year-old daughter of Russell Antonovich, one of the biggest movie directors in Hollywood. Hayley is a bit of a party girl but, everyone agrees, a sweet kid, and her father jumps to pay the million-dollar ransom (he just happens to keep that much money around the house), calling in the police only when his daughter remains missing.

Knight is in on the investigation from the start with her close friend Bailey Keller, a detective in the Robbery-Homicide unit who's as hard-charging as Knight herself. The two women question Russell, who has a bad case of short-man syndrome, and his manager, former child actor Ian Powers, who points out that a director as powerful as Russell has "thousands" of enemies: "It's a town full of narcissists and sociopaths. You do the math."

They talk to Hayley's two best friends, a mismatched pair of sad sacks: Mackenzie Struthers, the "poor girl" on scholarship at Hayley's ritzy private school, and Brittany Caren, a drug-addled young actor with a fierce stage mother and a passing resemblance to Lindsay Lohan. Mackenzie points them toward Hayley's new boyfriend, Brian Shandling — who turns out to have a different last name and a connection to someone who might have wanted revenge on Russell.

At first Knight and Keller think Hayley might have been in on her own kidnapping — but then her body turns up, and everything changes. The evidence points to someone in Russell's inner circle, someone he throws the considerable weight of his influence behind despite his daughter's murder. Knight finds herself facing a take-no-prisoners defense attorney in a trial that has even more twists that the investigation did.

Knight is an engaging character, sharp, funny and self-deprecating. Clark gives her some quirks — she's a Luddite when it comes to computers, and she lives in a hotel room at the Biltmore: "Poor, poor me, having to 'wait' for room service. I admit that sometimes I even make myself gag." But she also has a personal tragedy in her past that resonates with Hayley's case: When she was a girl, her younger sister was abducted and never found.

Although Clark knowledgeably depicts the investigation and forensics as well as the trial, Killer Ambition never bogs down. Knight's banter with Keller and her other friends around the courthouse and cop shop has the ring of authenticity, and Clark is wryly funny about how being involved with a show-biz trial can be both blessing and curse — although fans of legal thrillers get the benefits with this novel.

Colette Bancroft can be reached at [email protected] or (727) 893-8435.

Comments
Here are this week’s pop culture winners and losers

Here are this week’s pop culture winners and losers

Salma HayekSalma Hayek has spoken out against Harvey Weinstein, calling the producer a "monster" who threatened her career and her life after she reportedly denied his sexual advances. Hayek said working with Weinstein on the film Frida was like "goi...
Updated: 2 hours ago
What to watch this weekend: ‘A Christmas Story Live,’ Star Wars movie marathon, Hollywood Christmas Parade

What to watch this weekend: ‘A Christmas Story Live,’ Star Wars movie marathon, Hollywood Christmas Parade

OH, FUDGE! A CHRISTMAS STORY LIVE!The trend of live musicals broadcast on television isn't slowing down anytime soon, and A Christmas Story Live! — based on the classic holiday movie and Broadway musical — was ripe for the next taking. Fo...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Harry Potter’s Nymphadora Tonks, Natalia Tena, joins A Celebration of Harry Potter at Universal Orlando

Harry Potter’s Nymphadora Tonks, Natalia Tena, joins A Celebration of Harry Potter at Universal Orlando

The bubble gum pink-haired, shape-shifting witch Nymphadora Tonks from the last four Harry Potter films is headed to A Celebration of Harry Potter next month.Natalia Tena marks her first appearance at the annual wizarding world celebration Jan. 26-28...
Published: 12/14/17
Kids’ books a popular read at meteorologist Ginger Zee’s home

Kids’ books a popular read at meteorologist Ginger Zee’s home

NightstandGinger ZeeZee, 36, is the chief meteorologist at ABC News. In her newly released memoir, Natural Disaster: I Cover Them, I Am One, the Rockford, Mich., native details her multiyear struggle with depression and her life in the limelight. "It...
Published: 12/14/17
Notable: 50 years ago

Notable: 50 years ago

Notable50 years agoThese three books document some of the events of the cultural watershed that was 1967.Ali: A Life (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt) by Jonathan Eig is the first complete biography of boxing icon Muhammad Ali, who in 1967 refused to be dr...
Published: 12/14/17
Review: Kevin Young gives readers the truth about ‘Bunk’

Review: Kevin Young gives readers the truth about ‘Bunk’

We live in the age of the hoax.Believe me.And if you don’t believe me, believe Kevin Young, author of the sometimes disturbing but always fascinating new book Bunk: The Rise of Hoaxes, Humbug, Plagiarists, Phonies, Post-Facts, and Fake News.In it, Yo...
Published: 12/14/17
Uber Eats is delivering 'free' chicken McNuggets across Tampa Bay

Uber Eats is delivering 'free' chicken McNuggets across Tampa Bay

You'll still have to pay the delivery fee, but the 10-piece McNuggets are free.
Published: 12/13/17
What to watch this week: New season of ‘The Librarians,’ Gwen Stefani’s Christmas special

What to watch this week: New season of ‘The Librarians,’ Gwen Stefani’s Christmas special

MondaySEASON FINALE: The Gifted, 9 p.m., Fox: The team at Mutant HQ is divided on what to do next after Jace is forced to hand over something valuable to Dr. Campbell.Disney's Fairytale Weddings: Holiday Magic, 8 p.m., Freeform: A behind-the-scenes l...
Published: 12/11/17
This week’s pop culture winners and losers: Tonya Harding edition

This week’s pop culture winners and losers: Tonya Harding edition

WINNERS: Tonya Harding The once disgraced Olympic figure skater is no longer on thin ice in the pop culture world. Harding joined Margot Robbie, who is playing her in the upcoming film I, Tonya, on the red carpet this week. While Harding pleaded g...
Published: 12/08/17

Book events: Victorian Christmas Event, Cheryl Hollon launch party

Book TalkCheryl Hollon (Etched in Tears) will appear at a launch party for the new book in her Webb’s Glass Shop Mystery series at 2 p.m. Dec. 10 at Books at Park Place, 10468 Roosevelt Blvd. N, St. Petersburg.William Valentine (Cuban Charade) will s...
Published: 12/07/17