A Matter of Life and Death (Robin Lockwood #4), 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 has his newest legal mind, Robin Lockwood, in the middle of her most harrowing case yet. When a man is accused of murdering a judge’s wife, the evidence seems almost irrefutable. As the death penalty stares them in the face, Robin and her indigent client must do all they can to prove that this was not only a miscarriage of justice, but that there’s a larger scheme at play, even more dangerous than anyone might imagine. In A Case of Life and Death,, Margolin does a masterful job and keeps the reader enthralled throughout. Recommended to those who love a good legal thriller, particularly the reader who has come to enjoy the work of Phillip Margolin.

Things have not been going well for Joe Lattimore of late. Technically homeless, with a wife and little one, Joe is forced to scrounge for money wherever he can and remember his past as a boxer. When he’s offered a chance to make a quick buck, he takes it, though it’s a dubious venture. He’s told that there’s a fight club where he can make a decent amount of money, which Joe thinks might be the pot of gold for which he has long been waiting.

While he wins the fight, it’s no-holds-barred and Joe’s opponent is left clinging to life. Joe’s told the man died and is ushered away. Told that there is a video of the event, Joe knows it could be used against him should he not follow directions to the letter of the law. When Joe’s sent to a house and told to go inside, he enters, only to find the body of a woman who has been beaten to death. His prints are all over the walls as he tries to scramble away, only to be caught fleeing by the victim’s husband, Judge Anthony Carasco.

Once Joe’s been apprehended, after an anonymous tip, things go from bad to worse. The State has some damning and seemingly irrefutable evidence, pushing for the death penalty. Robin Lockwood, who knows Joe in passing, agrees to take his case, feeling that someone’s been pulling strings to frame an innocent man. However, nothing seems to add up and the evidence points strongly to Joe’s guilt. However, beneath it all, there are secrets that people are keeping, from the fight club to the victim’s suspicions about her husband, and even the judge’s alibi on the night of the crime. Robin knows that capital cases require not only dedication, but persistence in the face of adversity. She’ll need it all in this situation, as it’s the difference between a man’s life and his untimely demise.

I enjoy a well-crafted legal thriller at the best of time, something that Phillip Margolin never fails to deliver. I discovered his work primarily with the launch of the Robin Lockwood series, but have come to find that he is a master of the genre and has much to say without being overly repetitive. The plot is alluring and the writing hooks the reader from the opening pages. This is what a legal thriller should be.

Robin Lockwood does well as protagonist once again. Her presence adds something to the story and keeps the reader wanting to know even more. With a backstory as an MMA fighter, Robin knows the world of fame and glory, though is also keen to help those who cannot help themselves. Her legal acumen is second to none, as she finds one dangling thread and is apt to yank on it, hoping to unravel the truth. Gritty and all in, Robin works for her clients like no lawyer would, wanting truth to reign over the easy way out.

Margolin’s use of a handful of strong secondary characters in this piece helps to develop a great story that uses a few subplots to advance the larger narrative. There are those within the pages of this book who will impress the reader, while others will show their true mettle as the story advances. Everyone has their role, even if it does not seem apparent at the outset. Margolin’s development of these individuals helps keep the story flowing and the plot twists fresh in the reader’s mind.

The overall delivery of the piece was something I thoroughly enjoyed. I cannot say enough about Phillip Margolin or his work, both of which left me highly impressed. I like a story that is full of twists and a legal thriller that uses the law to peel back to the truth, both of which are on display here. The reader is treated to a quick narrative that pushes the story along, with some credible dialogue along the way. Short chapters force the reader to feel the momentum of the piece and get carried away as the story pushes towards a verdict where punishment is at the heart of it all. A little murder, some deception, and a handful of blackmail situations all create the needed intensity for the reader to see just how talented Margolin is with his writing. I cannot wait for what else this series has to offer.

Kudos, Mr. Margolin, for another winner. While some may need a comlex courtroom drama to appeal to them, your action-packed story has just what I needed to pass the time.

A Book for All Seasons, a different sort of Book Challenge: https://www.goodreads.com/group/show/248185-a-book-for-all-seasons