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: