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Margolin manages his overstuffed, profoundly unlikely plot with all the efficiency of an extra-sharp defense brief.

There’s nothing like a pair of impossible legal cases to help a defense lawyer get over the death of the fiance who was gunned down in front of her.

As soon as Profit, Oregon, investment adviser Joel Loman is found shot to death behind a Portland restaurant, a pair of homicide detectives call on his new widow, Marjorie Loman of the Profit Police Department, who can hardly conceal her delight that she no longer has to divorce the husband who was cheating on her with Kelly Starrett, his partner in Emerald Wealth Management. The detectives are shortly followed by a pair of thugs who tell Marjorie that Joel owed their boss $250,000 they expect her to pay. Faced with intolerable pressures from the law and the lawless, she flees to Elk Grove, Iowa, where, as Ruth Larson, she signs a $50,000 contract to serve as the surrogate who’ll carry a baby for childless Caleb and Emily Lindstrom. When the baby is born, Marjorie, unexpectedly bonding with him, is desperate to renege on the agreement. She rushes over to the Lindstroms’, pistol-whips Emily, and carries off the baby only to be caught soon after. Her defense on kidnapping and child abuse charges would be hopeless if Portland attorney Robin Lockwood, shocked and grief-stricken after witnessing the murder of Jeff Hodges, her investigator and husband-to-be, hadn’t also retreated to her hometown of Elk Ridge, where she reluctantly agrees to join local attorney Stan McDermott in defending Marjorie and then, when Marjorie’s extradited back to Portland, follows her and takes on her solo defense against the charge of murdering her husband. Whew!

Margolin manages his overstuffed, profoundly unlikely plot with all the efficiency of an extra-sharp defense brief.

Pub Date: March 8, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-2502-5844-1

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Minotaur

Review Posted Online: Dec. 14, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2022

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As an adjunct member says, “You’re not a family, you’re a force.” Exactly, though not in the way you’d expect.

The ne’er-do-well son of a successful Irish American family gets dragged into criminal complications that suggest the rest of the Devlins aren’t exactly the upstanding citizens they appear.

The first 35 years in the life of Thomas “TJ” Devlin have been one disappointment after another to his parents, lawyers who founded a prosperous insurance and reinsurance firm, and his more successful siblings, John and Gabby. A longtime alcoholic who’s been unemployable ever since he did time for an incident involving his ex-girlfriend Carrie’s then 2-year-old daughter, TJ is nominally an investigator for Devlin & Devlin, but everyone knows the post is a sinecure. Things change dramatically when golden-boy John tells TJ that he just killed Neil Lemaire, an accountant for D&D client Runstan Electronics. Their speedy return to the murder scene reveals no corpse, so the brothers breathe easier—until Lemaire turns up shot to death in his car. John’s way of avoiding anything that might jeopardize his status as heir apparent to D&D is to throw TJ under the bus, blaming him for everything John himself has done and adding that you can’t trust anything his brother has said since he’s fallen off the wagon. TJ, who’s maintained his sobriety a day at a time for nearly two years, feels outraged, but neither the police investigating the murder nor his nearest and dearest care about his feelings. Forget the forgettable mystery, whose solution will leave you shrugging instead of gasping, and focus on the circular firing squad of the Devlins, and you’ll have a much better time than TJ.

As an adjunct member says, “You’re not a family, you’re a force.” Exactly, though not in the way you’d expect.

Pub Date: March 26, 2024

ISBN: 9780525539704

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: Jan. 5, 2024

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2024

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Forget about solving all these crimes; the signal triumph here is (spoiler) the heroine’s survival.

Another sweltering month in Charlotte, another boatload of mysteries past and present for overworked, overstressed forensic anthropologist Temperance Brennan.

A week after the night she chases but fails to catch a mysterious trespasser outside her town house, some unknown party texts Tempe four images of a corpse that looks as if it’s been chewed by wild hogs, because it has been. Showboat Medical Examiner Margot Heavner makes it clear that, breaking with her department’s earlier practice (The Bone Collection, 2016, etc.), she has no intention of calling in Tempe as a consultant and promptly identifies the faceless body herself as that of a young Asian man. Nettled by several errors in Heavner’s analysis, and even more by her willingness to share the gory details at a press conference, Tempe launches her own investigation, which is not so much off the books as against the books. Heavner isn’t exactly mollified when Tempe, aided by retired police detective Skinny Slidell and a host of experts, puts a name to the dead man. But the hints of other crimes Tempe’s identification uncovers, particularly crimes against children, spur her on to redouble her efforts despite the new M.E.’s splenetic outbursts. Before he died, it seems, Felix Vodyanov was linked to a passenger ferry that sank in 1994, an even earlier U.S. government project to research biological agents that could control human behavior, the hinky spiritual retreat Sparkling Waters, the dark web site DeepUnder, and the disappearances of at least four schoolchildren, two of whom have also turned up dead. And why on earth was Vodyanov carrying Tempe’s own contact information? The mounting evidence of ever more and ever worse skulduggery will pull Tempe deeper and deeper down what even she sees as a rabbit hole before she confronts a ringleader implicated in “Drugs. Fraud. Breaking and entering. Arson. Kidnapping. How does attempted murder sound?”

Forget about solving all these crimes; the signal triumph here is (spoiler) the heroine’s survival.

Pub Date: March 17, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9821-3888-2

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Scribner

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

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