When LA prosecutor Rachel Knight receives a phone call with horrible news, she is beside herself: a pair of students gunned down their classmates, going on a murderous rampage around their high school, before taking their own lives. It’s one of the hardest cases that Rachel has ever had to work, if clear cut from an attorney’s point of view, with the dead bodies of the killers at the scene. But Rachel quickly begins to realize things don’t add up and that sends Rachel and her best friend, Detective Bailey Keller, on a frantic race to stop any more horrors from occurring.
The Competition is the fourth Rachel Knight novel, and quite possibly the best. Dealing with the aftermath of a school shooting, Clark takes a timely topic and puts her own disturbing spin on it; readers won’t be able to put this book down as they race through one twist after another.
I feel like I start out every review of books in the Rachel Knight series with a disclaimer, yet here I am doing it again. Yes, these books are by that Marcia Clark (prosecutor in the O.J. Simpson trial) and the only reason that matters is because Clark really knows her stuff. Trust me, she did not get a book deal because she has a famous name. These books are well-written, intelligent, and absolutely gripping. I sat down with The Competition intending to read just a few pages and ended up plowing through the entire novel in one sitting.
It’s a chilling issue that The Competition takes on—school shootings—all the more so because of how timely the topic is. Clark really delves into the mindset behind a shooting, examining causes and justifications through Rachel and Bailey. There are no easy explanations here, but what Clark focuses on is the psychology behind a mass shooting. What is it that drives some young people to react this way? It’s a fascinating question without any sort of real answer, but that doesn’t stop us from trying to find one, and Clark does a great job with that.
The story of The Competition is gripping, to say the least. Clark does a great job with the various plot threads, keeping the suspense high. Every time Rachel and Bailey think they have an answer, something that will help them understand, it just serves to complicate the narrative further. It’s well done and twisty, yet still entirely believable. It speaks to Clark’s writing ability that she’s able to write an excellent plot, yet never fails to take every opportunity to develop her characters further. It makes for a satisfying, if disturbing, read, for sure.
If you haven’t read any of Marcia Clark’s novels yet, you can actually dive straight into The Competition without too much difficulty. Clark recaps any lingering plot threads from previous novels well enough such that you won’t feel lost, and really this is a standalone story. I really can’t say enough great things about this series; four books in, and it’s one of the best being written. They are consistently good, with excellent details and characterization. Do yourself a favor and pick this book up as soon as possible.
Other books by Marcia Clark: