Samantha Brinkman, criminal defense attorney, is not afraid to cross a line when working for her clients. She’s aided by the two loyal members of her staff, Michy who serves as the office’s receptionist and manager, and Alex, the firm’s investigator and good guy computer hacker. This time around, Sam’s client is also her boyfriend, Niko Ferrell, a martial artist who parlayed his athletic abilities into a global empire. When Final Judgment opens, Sam and Niko are enjoying an idyllic vacation at a romantic resort on the isle of Bora Bora. But a phone call brings them back to reality.
A year ago, Niko had convinced some good friends, along with his mother, Sophia, to invest in a “sure thing” – Gold Strike Enterprises. Initial returns were phenomenal, earning Niko half a million dollars in just six months. Now, the fund has gone belly up. Because of his wealth, Niko isn’t worried about himself. Sophia, however, is another matter. A proud woman, she refuses to take money from her son, preferring instead to make her own way. But her losses from Gold Strike will essentially wipe her out. Niko and Sam cut their vacation short and rush back to Los Angeles.
Seeing Sophia confirms Niko’s worst fears. She blames herself for what happened, won’t allow him to help her, and her health quickly goes downhill. Soon, she’s in the hospital fighting for her life while Niko is under suspicion for killing one of the men who cooked up the Ponzi scheme.
Gold Strike was the brainchild of Tanner Handel and Bryan Posner. Neither wants to take responsibility for creating what amounted to a cyber crime that bilked investors out of millions. When one of them is found murdered, by an assailant who, like Niko, is skilled in the art of Krav Maga, the two police detectives investigating home in on Sam’s boyfriend. Niko is sophisticated where business is concerned, but he’s a novice when dealing with the law. Despite Sam’s cautions, he doesn’t wait for her before opening up to the two cops. When several of his statements don’t add up, the police show up with a search warrant. Nothing is found, but Sam has all she can do to keep Niko out of jail.
She’s aided by an LAPD detective, Dale Pearson. Only recently did Sam learn that Dale was her birthfather and the two are still trying to develop a relationship. Dale works to stay within the law, but he also tries to help his daughter. He feeds her the information she needs and when he suspects that she might be breaking the law, he looks the other way.
And in this outing, Sam will do anything – truly anything – to save Niko. Searching for the real murderer, Sam finds that both Tanner and Bryan committed other crimes and made many enemies. Tanner, in particular, threw house parties where wealthy men were afforded the company of beautiful young women. During one of those events, a young woman was brutally raped and that incident, not only provides Sam with the perfect suspect, but also allows her to settle old scores. In her book, that’s a win-win.
Sam may work hard to rescue her client, but she doesn’t wear a white hat. As an officer of the court, even dipping a toe into dark waters should give her pause. Justice isn’t always fair and Sam’s method is to tip the scales in favor of those who would otherwise be victims of the system. We may not always agree with her motives, but one thing’s for sure: if you are arrested for a crime, you want Samantha Brinkman on your side.
Marcia Clark, photo credit Coral von Zumwalt