The Darkest Place (Robin Lockwood #5), by Phillip Margolin

Eight stars

First and foremost, a large thank you to NetGalley, Phillip Margolin,St. Martin’s Press, and Minotaur Books for providing me with a copy of this publication, which allows me to provide you with an unbiased review.

Phillip Margolin is back with another explosive legal thriller that is sure to keep the reader on the edge of their seats. Robin Lockwood has made a name for herself since leaving the life of an MMA fighter in the past. However, it all comes tumbling down after a personal tragedy befalls her. Robin retreats back to her hometown, where she can convalesce. At the same time, a surrogacy case heats up and Robin eventually agrees to take on a client, working her magic in the courtroom. Little does Robin know, there is more to this woman than meets the eye, including some antics back in Portland that will require legal attention too! Margolin impresses and keeps the reader flipping pages well into the night.

Robin Lockwood is happy to have a successful legal practice and some strong partners to keep things going. When she agrees to take on a pro bono case as a favour, Robin case show her courtroom magic and continue to grab headlines. However, it is all forgotten when someone close to her dies in the middle of the case, leaving her distraught and not wanting to go on.

Convalescing back in her hometown, Robin cannot see any reason to continue on, though there is something about Elk Grove that keeps her waking up each morning. When she sees a local woman has been taken into custody around a surrogacy situation, Robin finds enough spark to climb back into the saddle and agrees to defend Marjorie Loman. After entering a surrogacy contract, Marjorie gives birth to a healthy baby boy and has second thoughts about returning him to his parents. What follows is a case of apparent kidnapping and assault, but Robin thinks that she can convince a jury otherwise.

It soon comes out that Marjorie has been in Elk Grove under an alias and that she faces murder charges back in Portland, where she sure to face trial. Again, Robin agrees to come to her client’s rescue and takes on the case, fuelled by a desire to help this woman who has been down on her luck. While working through the case, Robin sees that some things just don’t add up and she begins to wonder if Marjorie Loman might have another side she wishes to keep hidden from everyone. A great legal thriller that speeds along, much like many of Phillip Margolin’s novels.

It takes a great deal to put together a legal thriller that is both succinct and impactful. Phillip Margolin has done that repeatedly in the novels that I have had the pleasure of reading. He’s always working a few cases and keeping his protagonist rushing from spot to spot, but there is never a sense of superficiality to the writing or her development. This was another winner in the series and I can only hope there are more to come.

Robin Lockwood has evolved a great deal throughout the series, effectively connecting with fans as the stories progress. Here, there is a curveball tossed into the mix and the reader can see devastation flow through the veins of the protagonist, forcing her to reinvent herself. Robin Lockwood is tough, but this is perhaps too much. With much grit and determination, Robin dusts herself off and shows why she is an amazing lawyer and woman, making an impact in many ways throughout this stellar novel.

While I have not read every novel his has penned, I have a good handle on the work of Phillip Margolin and can assure myself that the books keep getting better. He’s able to work with a strong narrative that builds as the story gains speed, working through plot twists and numerous character developments to culminate in a chilling ending. The pacing with short chapters is key and keeps the reader pushing forward, eager to see how things will progress throughout. I love a good legal thriller and can only hope that there are more, particularly with Robin Lockwood at the helm.

Kudos, Mr. Margolin, for another winner. You know just how to pen a great story that has me hungry for more in the genre!