The Perfect Alibi (Robin Lockwood #2), by Phillip Margolin

Eight stars

Philip Margolin brings Robin Lockwood back for another legal thriller set in Oregon. Lockwood, a former MMA star, is ready to do battle when she is approached by a young woman who confides that she’s been raped. Robin explains that she cannot prosecute a criminal case, but is willing to help with any civil matter that might be needed. Listening to her client,  Robin learns that a football player, Blaine Hastings, turned a booze-fuelled lustful encounter into something violent that led to a sexual assault. Hastings has a much different tale, though he cannot explain the semen left in and around the victim. At trial, Hastings is less than happy with his legal representation and is sent away. However, things take a definite turn when another woman is raped, identifying a different man, but Hastings’ DNA is left inside her. As Hastings was incarcerated at the time, he could not have committed the crime, but what’s happened? Robin is baffled and unsure how to help her client, but the local authorities are sure there is some scientific explanation. Hastings is released on bail but soon disappears, just as his lawyer’s legal partner is slain. Robin is hired to defend the man accused of the murder, though no one believes that he could be involved. Working both mind-blowing cases, Robin watches as the D.A. lands himself in some hot water and turns the local legal community on its head. With time running out and answers scarce, Robin will have to act to get answers, while still keeping an eye out for Blaine Hastings, who’s sure to have a bone to pick with her. A well-crafted novel with layered sub-plots that all link together, Margolin shows why he is the master of his genre. Perfect for fans of legal thrillers full of twists and those whose search for justice is unending.

I usually enjoy Phillip Margolin and his novels, which mix the law with dramatic developments throughout. This was no exception, as the story twisted and turned from one part to the next. Robin Lockwood remains a wonderful protagonist, able to tear down anything put before her, be it a charging body or legal argument. Her attentiveness shows that she has the makings of a sensational legal mind and she surrounds herself with those who are able to help her excel. Juggling a seemingly impossible workload, Lockwood finds enough time to locate her fair share of trouble. Others in the book prove quite effective at advancing the plot and creating a niche for themselves. As Margolin creates a smaller story within each part, there are characters who shine in parts of the book, backing off in other domains. The story was strong and its scientific element did not drown out the effectiveness of the legal arguments. The reader is in for a treat, offered nuances of many aspects of the law, jammed into this mid-length novel. With fresh ideas and ever evolving themes (as well as a cameo by one of Margolin’s long-time stars), this is another book worthy of its fair share of praise. A mix of chapter lengths serves a great purpose while always leaving the reader to wonder what awaits. Perfect for a single-day reading, should time permit.

Kudos, Mr. Margolin, on another success. I am pleased to have discovered your work and cannot wait to see what else you have in store!

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

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The Third Victim, by Phillip Margolin

Nine stars

First and foremost, a large thank you to Phillip Margolin 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 will keep the reader pushing through until the very end to see that justice is served. Regina Barrister has made a name for herself in the Oregon legal community, defending those who have the money and need her legal prowess. Not only are clients aware of Barrister’s capabilities, but one law student has made the ultimate sacrifice to work alongside her. Robin Lockwood has done everyone in her power and when the opportunity arises, she’s keen to take an associate position with Barrister. Meanwhile, Meredith Fenner appears on a rural road, burns across her torso with obvious signs of having been held captive, claiming that she’s just escaped her kidnapper. After the Portland Police become involved, they notice her injuries are similar to those of two prostitutes who have recently been murdered. As the evidence rolls in and Fenner makes an identification of the house where she was held, attorney Alex Mason is arrested for the crime. His wife admits that Mason is quite the control freak and likes his sex kinky and a little violent, including tying her up and burning her with a cigarette. Regina Barrister accepts the case and begins defending Mason, bringing young associate Robin Lockwood along, as this is set to be a capital murder case. The evidence all points to Mason, but there is something that just does not seem right with the evidence as it has been presented pre-trial. Additionally, Regina seems to be keeping a secret that could turn this case on its head, though Robin is not entirely sure what to do. With a man’s life on the line, there is no room for error, but the evidence does not seem to lie, even if Regina refuses to see the larger picture. Margolin delivers a sensational novel that keeps pace throughout. Perfect for fans of legal dramas and who enjoy a twisted tale throughout.

I have admired Phillip Margolin’s work for a long time and find that he is usually quite on the ball with what he has to say. While one person I know strongly panned the book, I felt nothing but a strong connection to the characters and story, perhaps one of the best pieces of Margolin’s work that I have read. There were a number of characters to juggle throughout, but the central few (namely, Regina Barrister and Robin Lockwood) were strong and kept things moving effectively. Sprinkling some backstory in with character development helped to connect the reader with these two legal protagonists. Many of the others, including the third victim, Meredith Fenner, helped to up the dramatic effect of the case as things progressed and the trial opened with a bang. Of course, the secret Regina keeps throughout the novel cannot be discounted, though it would be too much of a spoiler to mention it here.The story was fairly well presented, with a strong lead-up and segments of the trial, in which Barrister and Lockwood do what they can to keep Alex Mason from facing death row, but cannot discount the evidence. While things did go well, as I mentioned above, the vast array of characters served sometimes to dilute the effectiveness of the story, as the reader is forced to recollect who belongs where and what they have said up to this point. That being said, things did all fall into place at just the right moment and Margolin shows how effective he can be in his writing.

Kudos, Mr Margolin, for another wonderful legal thriller. I love the move away from the bright lights of big city stories and hope Oregon will remain where you set future stories.

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