THE LAST INNOCENT MAN by Phillip Margolin

THE LAST INNOCENT MAN

By
Email this review

KIRKUS REVIEW

Criminal lawyer Margolin (Heartstone) writes cleanly and convincingly about the ins and outs of the legal process at its grittiest; unfortunately, the low-key but consistently interesting case/trial events here lead up to final chapters packed with contrivance, unlikely revelations, and hackneyed melodrama. Margolin's hero is Portland, Oregon's youngish David Nash, a local superstar of criminal law who has lately become torn up over the ambivalent success of getting acquittals for the probably-guilty. So David is happy to take a case where the accused really seems to be innocent: lawyer Larry Stafford, who is accused of killing a policewoman who posed as a prostitute to trap ""Johns."" But though David neatly picks away at the prosecution witnesses, the case soon becomes fraught with conflicts: Stafford's wife (and alibi) Jennifer turns out to be the beloved mystery woman with whom David had a night of exquisite love some time back, giving him a motive to lose the case; and smarmy, secretive Larry himself becomes increasingly unsympathetic as the trial proceeds. So, when David discovers that Jennifer's alibi is a lie and when the prosecution (represented by David's ex-wife Monica) comes up with a surprise witness to blacken Larry's image, David just caves in: Larry is convicted, David has a guilt-ridden breakdown. Then, however, begins the artificial, coincidence-heavy wrapup: a former client of David's turns out to be the real killer--a total sociopath who confesses to David, taunts him, tests his ethics, and forces him into a final shootout/showdown. Implausible plot, decent (if somewhat sentimental) characterization and backgrounds--a small-scale, passable courtroom-drama diversion, but only for readers who won't be too angry when the nonsense factor takes over.

Pub Date: March 2nd, 1981
Publisher: Little, Brown