“Newly promoted Deputy District Attorney Samantha Kincaid’s first assignment back after a much-needed vacation is a hot one: Judge Clarissa Easterbrook has gone missing from a wealthy Portland neighborhood, and Sam has to make the DA look good until the prodigal judge returns. Yet it soon becomes clear that the woman didn’t vanish voluntarily-and it’s no surprise when her bludgeoned body turns up at a local construction site.
What is surprising is how quickly a suspect is apprehended while Clarissa’s husband, a prominent surgeon, is cleared of suspicion. It all seems a bit cut-and-dried to Sam, especially when she discovers that Clarissa was keeping secrets that the city’s elite would prefer to stay hidden.
Now, with each piece of the puzzle she uncovers, Sam is getting closer to the truth-and to the wrong side of some very powerful people. It seems Clarissa’s secrets may have caught up to her in the worst of ways. And in her quest to exonerate an innocent man, Sam could be next in line…”
-Synopsis from Goodreads
Missing Justice is book two in the Samantha Kincaid trilogy. I devoured the first book, Judgment Calls, a couple months ago and was eager to continue Samantha’s story.
In this book, Samantha gets her first assignment as Deputy District Attorney: investigating what first appears to be a missing persons case, but then becomes a homicide. A Portland judge is found murdered, and Samantha has to figure out who would want the judge murdered and why.
“They say murder cases are like any other criminal case, but with one important difference: Your most important witness, the victim, is gone forever.”
-from Missing Justice by Alafair Burke
The main suspect is a man who had been writing threatening letters to the judge after she ruled against him in a case a few months ago. As the synopsis alludes, it seems way too cut-and-dried to pin the murder on this man. Some evidence appears to point to him, but he claims he is innocent, and Samantha has to admit that his recent behavior is conflicting with that of a murderer.
Meanwhile there is the inner circle of the judge to investigate, including her husband and their close friend. Lots of clues are uncovered, but Samantha and the other investigators are baffled as to how they could be connected and who they lead to.
“People don’t realize that a criminal case is rarely built on a single piece of evidence, relying instead on tens of hundreds of clues in context, each by itself insignificant. Too many helpful witnesses show up late in the game, because they didn’t want to bother the police with insignificant information.”
-from Missing Justice by Alafair Burke
I continued to be surprised by the amount of pushback Samantha gets at work, and all of the politics that are at play. Samantha is not a “perfect” character but I enjoy her quips and I don’t think she is ever truly in the wrong. She is defensive but for good reason, and she listens to her instincts which more often than not turn out to be right. She doesn’t always make the right decisions, but I wouldn’t expect her or anyone else to especially when they are so new to the job.
Amidst this tricky case, Samantha has a lot going on in her personal life, too. There is her relationship with Chuck Forbes, for one; they cross paths frequently at work and Samantha is now dealing with everyone else’s opinions of their relationship and she tries to keep it under wraps as best as she can. Samantha is also dealing with friction with her father, who is upset about her involvement in this case but won’t tell her why. She has very little time to coax it out of him as she is so busy with that case, even though what he knows could ultimately have a significant impact on the case.
Once again as with Judgment Calls shows the ins and outs of what goes on in a district attorney’s office in a way that only someone with that experience could detail. This book is equal parts legal thriller, mystery, and police procedural.
Next up will be the last book of this trilogy, Close Case, which I hope to read soon.
Goodreads rating: Five stars