Hide this

Results from Google Books

Click on a thumbnail to go to Google Books.

Degree of Guilt by Richard North Patterson

Degree of Guilt (1992)

by Richard North Patterson

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
8401210,727 (3.56)15
Recently added bylgaumer43, private library, BKPugh, debicakes77, fau



Sign up for LibraryThing to find out whether you'll like this book.

No current Talk conversations about this book.

» See also 15 mentions

English (11)  Swedish (1)  All languages (12)
Showing 1-5 of 11 (next | show all)
This was my first introduction to Richard North Patterson. The novel was in a bag of books that I was given for 'recycling'. I’m so glad that I decided I should glance over the titles before immediately passing them forward. This novel has definitely earned my praise as one of my highest recommendations / examples of legal thrillers. I haven't found as compelling a legal novel since reading Brad Meltzer’s "The Tenth Justice" or John Lescroart's "The 13th Juror” and my appreciation of the character Dismas Hardy but Christopher Paget has easily surpassed regard of Dismas Hardy.

On the author's web site various phrases or short comments are excerpted from reviews. A review from People says, "Compulsively readable… A Chinese box of a puzzler, where one mystery is penetrated only to reveal another." An excellent description as you unravel the clues of a mystery and another reveal begins. WoW! I’m off to add RNP’s other titles to my “Wish List to Read”. Would definitely like to read one (or more) of his titles during a vacation time period so I could simply enjoy the uninterrupted reading time.
( )
  Corduroy7 | Aug 6, 2014 |
loaned to pop ( )
  velvetink | Mar 31, 2013 |
I liked this book because the unravelling of the facts of the case came through questioning and evidence presneted in a pre-trial, and not by the lawyers turning into renegade investigators. The characters, particularly Mary Carelli, were complex, as were the relationships outside of the courtroom. ( )
  CarterPJ | Jun 19, 2012 |
Attorney who feel s mother of his child ( teen ) is guilty of murder defends her , meny twists but interesting. ( )
  donagiles | Apr 11, 2012 |
I actually haven't read many legal thrillers. The one before this I remember best was Grisham's The Firm and the one I read just before this was Lescroart's Hard Evidence. Patterson has it all over Lescroart, who within a hundred pages showed he knew nothing of the law, completely losing credibility. And credibility is important, whether you're writing about a nuclear submarine or medieval London. Patterson, who worked as a trial attorney and was a liaison to the Watergate special prosecutor, has credibility to burn. As for Grisham. Well, The Firm is about lawyers, Degree of Guilt is more about the law. The Firm immerses you in the seductive lure of a plush rich corporate firm. The law isn't really what it's about. Degree of Guilt is about a murder case--and rape. Not who--we know that from the beginning. But how, why, and what degree of guilt should be assigned Mary Carelli in the killing of Mark Ransom. And in the book the defense lawyer Christopher Paget takes some real risks gaming the legal system that make for a suspenseful page-turning story.

And yes, in some ways it is a trashy book. The kind where every character teases you by reminding you (or being an obvious stand in) for a real life public figure. There's a scandalous tape of Laura Chase (Marilyn Monroe) involving the charismatic Senator Who-Cares-About-Social-Justice James Colt (Jack Kennedy) who died a tragic death. There's the famous starlet turned producer and feminist social activist with a famous father Lindsay Caldwell (Jane Fonda). There's our murder victim Mark Ransom (Norman Mailer), the Pulitzer-Prize winning novelist who is "America's most famous living writer." There's the accused murderer Mary Carelli (Diane Sawyer?) who is a renowned television journalist who interviews the likes of Anwar Sadat and once worked for a Republican administration ridden with scandal. The hero of the novel, Christopher Paget, given he was involved investigating a Watergate-like scandal, seems a stand-in for Patterson himself. This is the trashiest aspect of the book, no question. While the novel is not really a roman a clef, the characters are close enough to real life counterparts for me to feel a bit voyeuristic at times. I was also bothered with how close the characters fell into certain stereotypes. The good characters full of integrity are identifiably liberals; the bad, manipulative "social Darwinist" characters are more than hinted to be Republicans. Also, through Part One--about the first 100 pages--the characters left me cold, cold, cold.

They grew on me though. And one character in particular who started out as despicable did turn out to be more complex that it first appeared, another who appeared cold turn out to have good reasons, and yet another character who I did like from the beginning grew to have more and more of a role. So if you found yourself not liking any of the characters in the first quarter of the book, you might want to hold on a bit longer--things aren't how they first appear.

I also appreciated how the novel handled the matter of rape which figures into the mystery. There are several different rape victims who tell their stories in the book. Unlike in so many cases this comes up in popular fiction, those depictions didn't come across as titillating or exploitative. Maybe because they're told by the victims themselves to another well after what happened, putting some distance between the act and the reader, yet leaving you aching for the person involved. One telling in particular was harrowing to read. And each experience was woven in tightly into the mystery of Mark Ransom's death at the hands of Mary Carelli. Through those experiences Patterson also holds up to scrutiny how we handle cases of rape in America. Not bad for a trashy pop thriller. This is a sequel by the way--there's an earlier Christopher Paget book. But I didn't feel lost because I hadn't read it. ( )
  LisaMaria_C | Oct 15, 2011 |
Showing 1-5 of 11 (next | show all)
no reviews | add a review
You must log in to edit Common Knowledge data.
For more help see the Common Knowledge help page.
Series (with order)
Canonical title
Original title
Alternative titles
Original publication date
Information from the Swedish Common Knowledge. Edit to localize it to your language.
Important places
Important events
Related movies
Awards and honors
Information from the Swedish Common Knowledge. Edit to localize it to your language.
Till Laurie - för allt
First words
Information from the Swedish Common Knowledge. Edit to localize it to your language.
Kvinnan stod som förstenad i hotellkorridoren och stirrade på dörrens nummerskylt.
Last words
Information from the Swedish Common Knowledge. Edit to localize it to your language.
Disambiguation notice
Publisher's editors
Publisher series
Original language

References to this work on external resources.

Wikipedia in English


Book description
Haiku summary

Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 034538184X, Mass Market Paperback)

The core of Richard North Patterson's legal thrillers is characterization, and Degree of Guilt, the novel that relaunched his career in 1993, features two captivating individuals: Christopher Paget and Mary Carelli. Paget, the upstart hero of Patterson's 1979 Edgar-winning The Lasko Tangent, is now a sophisticated trial lawyer doing his best to raise a teenage son in San Francisco. He's a man to be admired: famous for bringing down the president in a financial scandal, he has settled into the comfortable life of a successful attorney. His life is transformed, however, when his former lover (and mother of his son), Mary Carelli, pays a visit.

The novel begins in a San Francisco hotel room as Mary, now an NBC journalist, surveys the torn landscape of author Mark Ransom's apartment. Ransom is, or was, America's most eminent writer. As she tells the police, Ransom had uncovered new recorded evidence of an affair between a long-dead starlet and a now-sainted senator (shades of Marilyn Monroe and JFK). While Ransom and Mary were listening to the tapes, she claims, he tried to rape her and she killed him in self-defense. Mary turns to Paget to defend her in what becomes a complex case of missing and conflicting evidence. Old emotions are stirred between the two just as Paget begins to doubt Mary's innocence.

The suspense of Degree of Guilt is grounded in the twists and turns of the trial at the novel's center, but just as compelling is the emerging history of Mary and Paget, and Paget's struggles to keep his son out of the media frenzy surrounding his mother's case. As well, Patterson addresses the deeper ethical questions that face many lawyers as they decide which cases to take and which evidence to use. Capturing archetypal characters and situations, Degree of Guilt becomes a parable of American law. --Patrick O'Kelley

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:22:50 -0400)

(see all 5 descriptions)

As the trial of a well-known TV journalist accused of murdering a world-famous novelist unfolds, the defendant's claim to innocence becomes increasingly undermined.

» see all 5 descriptions

Quick Links

Swap Ebooks Audio
439 avail.
4 wanted
3 pay6 pay

Popular covers


Average: (3.56)
1 3
2 10
2.5 1
3 32
3.5 10
4 43
4.5 2
5 15


6 editions of this book were published by Audible.com.

See editions

Is this you?

Become a LibraryThing Author.


Help/FAQs | About | Privacy/Terms | Blog | Store | Contact | LibraryThing.com | APIs | WikiThing | Common Knowledge | Legacy Libraries | Early Reviewers | 100,883,612 books! | Top bar: Always visible