Books by Phillip Margolin

THE PERFECT ALIBI by Phillip Margolin
FICTION & LITERATURE
Released: March 5, 2019

"So many murders, so many plotters, so much churn that you may wonder if you accidentally picked up a collection of short stories."
Portland attorney Robin Lockwood (The Third Victim, 2017) gets a second case—or rather a perfect torrent of second cases. Read full book review >
THE THIRD VICTIM by Phillip Margolin
FICTION & LITERATURE
Released: Dec. 15, 2017

"The setup is arresting, but the structure is awkward, with one large subplot awkwardly integrated and the final solution at once unlikely, obvious, and slow to arrive. A lesser outing for the highly variable Margolin (Violent Crimes, 2016, etc.)."
A novice lawyer signs on to an Oregon attorney's practice just in time to catch a case that will leave her skeptical about just about everyone involved, including her boss. Read full book review >
VIOLENT CRIMES by Phillip Margolin
FICTION & LITERATURE
Released: Feb. 9, 2016

"This last problem may sound like a thorny ethical dilemma, but it's just as weightless as every other complication in this fleet, guileless, inch-deep yarn, a tale guaranteed to get you to bed in plenty of time and leave your dreams untroubled."
What the title promises is exactly what Margolin (Worthy Brown's Daughter, 2014, etc.) delivers: another torrent of violent crimes for Oregon defense attorney Amanda Jaffe.Read full book review >
WORTHY BROWN'S DAUGHTER by Phillip Margolin
FICTION & LITERATURE
Released: Jan. 21, 2014

"Margolin's dialogue is sometimes affected, sometimes faintly anachronistic, but his scene-setting, knowledge of the frontier and relating of the hard task of the law make for an appealing read that, the author says, took 30 years to write."
Legal thriller writer Margolin (Sleight of Hand, 2013, etc.) turns back the clock to confront murder, deceit and slavery in frontier Oregon. Read full book review >
SLEIGHT OF HAND by Phillip Margolin
Released: April 9, 2013

"Margolin presents another triumph of inventive plotting over paper-thin characterization, flat prose and a wholesale departure from realism. The result is on a par with an especially good episode of Columbo."
Washington, D.C. shamus Dana Cutler (Capitol Murder, 2012, etc.) goes up against an impossibly clever killer: an amateur magician who's also a member of the bar. Read full book review >
VANISHING ACTS by Phillip Margolin
CHILDREN'S
Released: Oct. 11, 2011

"Disappointingly dull. (Mystery. 9-12)"
Cardboard characters and an unbelievable plot make this contemporary mystery feel like a Nancy Drew knock-off minus the nostalgic charm. Read full book review >
FUGITIVE by Phillip Margolin
MYSTERY THRILLER
Released: June 2, 2009

"Margolin's mishmash of plots is as messy as ever, with everybody apparently hell-bent on harming everybody else. Readers who persevere to the last chapter, however, are in for a nifty surprise."
Twelve years after fleeing a murder rap, "Satan's Guru" turns himself over to Portland attorney Amanda Jaffe, whose father successfully defended his alleged co-conspirator. Read full book review >
PROOF POSITIVE by Phillip Margolin
MYSTERY THRILLER
Released: July 3, 2006

"Margolin is never going to be a poster boy for stylish prose, but this is a briskly paced, cleverly plotted, long-overdue switch on all those heroic forensics guys. "
In her third appearance, Oregon defense attorney Amanda Jaffe (Ties That Bind, 2003, etc.) takes on a CSI tech who thinks he's God. Read full book review >
LOST LAKE by Phillip Margolin
MYSTERY THRILLER
Released: March 1, 2005

"As if you had to ask. Except for the overlong flashbacks, Margolin's tenth may be his best, with everything a thriller should have, except thrills."
Beneath a brawl at a kids' baseball game lies "the biggest scandal in the history of American politics," in this wildly implausible legal thriller from Margolin (Sleeping Beauty, 2004, etc.). Read full book review >
SLEEPING BEAUTY by Phillip Margolin
MYSTERY THRILLER
Released: May 1, 2004

"Flimsy plotting, thin characters, hoary clichés, grade-school prose: a 'by the numbers' thriller."
A pulse-lowering thriller about writers who write about what they know. Read full book review >
TIES THAT BIND by Phillip Margolin
MYSTERY THRILLER
Released: March 11, 2003

"Earlier in his career, Margolin was a robust if rough-around-the-edges storyteller; lately, however, pulpish characters and porous plotting have become his characteristics."
An inharmonious glee club warbles murderously in an off-key Margolin (The Associate, 2001, etc.). Read full book review >
THE ASSOCIATE by Phillip Margolin
MYSTERY THRILLER
Released: Sept. 1, 2001

"Bland people, implausible plotting. Here, Margolin, who has tilled the legal thriller field with no mean success (Wild Justice, 2000, etc.), does little more than go through the motions."
Humdrum legal thriller about a young lawyer who trusts his firm way more than he should. Read full book review >
WILD JUSTICE by Phillip Margolin
MYSTERY THRILLER
Released: Sept. 1, 2000

"The relentless barrage of gruesome murders and counter-accusations creates a legal thriller that's crude, grisly, horrific, and often suspenseful, though never exactly scary, except when you wonder about the citizens who are buying this stuff."
"The combination of mass murder, black-market organ sales, torture and a handsome physician . . . dubbed Dr. Death by the tabloids" fuels Margolin's fifth transcendently commercial two-act thriller (The Undertaker's Widow, 1998, etc.).Read full book review >
THE UNDERTAKER'S WIDOW by Phillip Margolin
MYSTERY THRILLER
Released: May 1, 1998

A tale of an ill-starred Oregon judge proves itself to be more than the sum of its parts. And there's a lesson in that. Create a likable hero, put him on the rack, keep him there with might and main, and such flaws as wooden dialogue and gratuitous twists of plot still won—t sink your story. Like his legendary father, Richard Quinn is a state supreme court justice, and it's almost irrelevant that he's also sweet-natured, since what defines him is his being a man of principle and conscience. Early on, a fellow judge convicted of bribery appears before him for sentencing, and Quinn hits him hard, giving him jail time when no one, including the prosecution, would have frowned at probation. In fact, a strong argument—and one Quinn sees merit in—could be made that probation would have been the fitter punishment for the crime. Except that it's a judge, Quinn says, and a judge must adhere to a higher standard, or what's a courtroom for? Soon enough, however, the judge at a moral crossroads is Quinn himself. For reasons he only half understands, malign forces have suddenly focused on him. Willy-nilly, he's being framed for murder. And blackmailed. And threatened with bodily harm. There's a way out, of course, but it requires breaking the law. The case before him involves powerful people to whom moral codes are the stuff of farce, people who will balk at nothing. If Quinn agrees to preside dishonestly, he can save himself and those he cares for most. But if not, his ruin seems certain. Though this is Margolin's fifth time out (The Burning Man, 1996, etc.), his prose has gotten no more elegant with practice, but, still, he—ll have you rooting for the good Richard Quinn. (Author tour) Read full book review >
THE BURNING MAN by Phillip Margolin
MYSTERY THRILLER
Released: Sept. 4, 1996

An Oregon lawyer exiled from Portland to the sticks grabs at a high-profile murder case as his one and only chance to turn his life around—and that's only the most obvious clichÇ in this pot of refried beans. ``You possess the intelligence to be a good lawyer, but you're lazy and self-centered,'' Peter Hale's father harangues him just after Peter's arrogance and incompetence shut a client out of a well-deserved settlement, and just before he banishes him to legal serfdom in backwoods Whitaker. Well-tailored Peter fumes as he watches his old school friend Steve Mancini run rings around him in their separate defenses of Christopher Mammon and Kevin Booth, two lugs charged with serious coke possession. But salvation seems at hand when Steve maneuvers Peter into defending Gary Harmon, who's facing the death penalty for aggravated homicide after a third Whitaker State coed is killed with a hatchet. A gung-ho cop's persuaded sweet, retarded Gary, who'd had a public confrontation with an approachable blond who brushed him off shortly before the murder, that the couple he saw necking in Wishing Well Park was actually the killer and his latest victim—and then insinuated Gary into the frame by appealing to his psychic powers. And when prosecutor Becky O'Shay's case falters, Kevin Booth, who just happens to be doing his time in the same prison as Gary, passes on a duplicate confession Gary allegedly made to him. Just as Gary, under indictment on a capital crime, is worried that his mother will find out about his skin mags, Peter is worried what the case will do to his budding romance with Becky—until the impossible bind that makes Peter realize his real duty is to his client, not his career, and finally points a finger at the guilty party. Despite the hints of grand conspiracy and grand passion, Margolin (After Dark, 1995, etc.) leaves too little meat on these bones for any but the staunchest fans of legal intrigue, with hollow surprises that arrive too late to save his puny plot. Read full book review >
AFTER DARK by Phillip Margolin
MYSTERY THRILLER
Released: July 1, 1995

Second-novel blues for Margolin (Gone, But Not Forgotten, 1993): a murky, juiceless legal thriller in which lawyers hire lawyers when they're accused of killing other lawyers. A month after his law clerk Laura Rizzati is killed after- hours in the Portland courthouse, Oregon Supreme Court justice Robert Griffen is blown up in a bombing that looks just like the work of Charlie Deems, whose earlier conviction on homicide and drug charges Griffen himself reversed, setting Deems free. But the DA's office is looking even closer to home for Griffen's killer: They think Griffen's estranged wife, Abigail, a star county prosecutor, arranged the bombing in order to save herself $2 million in alimony and then framed Deems, whom she'd fought to put away before her almost-ex overturned the conviction. Calling on cadaverous Matthew Reynolds, unblushingly described as ``America's most famous criminal defense attorney''—the man she's been trying cases against until the day the police take her off in cuffs—Abbie vows to fight the unholy alliance of Deems and her buddies at the DA's office. After all, it's her word against a convicted killer's, right? And for a while it looks as if the unexpectedly shifting patterns of alliances and betrayals- -Abbie's old gang accuses her of hiring a felon to kill the man she once loved, and she's defended by a former courtroom nemesis who seems to be sweet on her himself—seem to promise a ripe payoff. No sooner has Margolin set up this web of ironies, though, than Reynolds's rookie clerk Tracy Cavanaugh, a friend of Laura Rizzati's, turns up some new evidence of a motive that links the two murders (or does it?); the characters get tired of stalking each other and start shooting; and it's all over but for the canned romantic fadeout. Less crudely sensationalistic than Margolin's striking, overheated debut, but also less vigorously plotted, with a dewy- eyed view of legal lust that wouldn't fool a sleepy judge. Read full book review >
GONE, BUT NOT FORGOTTEN by Phillip Margolin
MYSTERY THRILLER
Released: Oct. 4, 1993

A rash of grisly torture/murders of upscale Portland, Oregon, housewives—each kidnapped by someone who leaves behind a black rose and a note saying ``Gone, but not forgotten''—turns out to have unholy roots in an identical series of killings across the country a decade earlier. Martin Darius, the megalomaniac developer accused of the crimes, swears he's innocent. But Nancy Gordon, an ex-detective from Hunter's Point (New York) homicide, tells his lawyer, Betsy Tannenbaum, that he's Peter Lake, whom she's convinced was behind the Hunter's Point killings—including those of Lake's wife and young daughter. Betsy's own investigation points to a coverup nine years ago: Lake was pardoned by police and a governor desperate to find starving kidnap victims that Nancy Gordon never mentioned to Betsy. Now that that governor's nomination to the Supreme Court could be jeopardized by any whiff of the pardon, Darius admits to Betsy that, yes, he's Lake and that he did indeed kill those women back then—but not the current victims, whom he insists obsessive Gordon has murdered in order to frame him. Gordon, meanwhile, has disappeared, and a third suspect has surfaced: Samantha Reardon, a surviving Hunter's Point victim whose graphically detailed captivity may be fueling a psychotic thirst for revenge. ``Can you imagine a case you wouldn't take?'' a reporter asks Betsy about her repulsive client—but in fact Betsy's ethical dilemma is only the beginning of her troubles. Margolin's writing won't win any prizes (``Darius was in Betsy's soul''; he's ``not just a bad person, but pure evil'')—but this slick, pulpish first novel will keep an awful lot of people up until dawn. Read full book review >