I know I’ve mentioned this before, and at the risk of boring you I’ll repeat – I am not a fan of flying. But I am also an optimist at heart and have found the silver lining to the dreaded act. Reading. Uninterrupted one on one time with a book. Today, I finished one of the better books I’ve read recently.
Phillip Margolin is the New York Times bestselling author of more than a dozen titles, but I had never read him before today.
Worthy Brown’s Daughter is loosely based on an actual historical event. The author was meticulous in his research, which helped him to accurately portray the legal system and its working of the 1880s.
One of a handful of lawyers in the new state of Oregon, recently widowed Matthew Penny agrees to help Worthy Brown, a newly freed slave, rescue his fifteen-year-old daughter, Roxanne, from their former master, a powerful Portland lawyer. Worthy’s lawsuit sets in motion events that lead to Worthy’s arrest for murder and create an agonizing moral dilemma that could send either Worthy or Matthew to the hangman.
At the same time, hanging judge Jed Tyler, a powerful politician with a barren personal life, becomes infatuated with a beautiful gold-digger who is scheming to murder Benjamin Gillette, Oregon’s wealthiest businessman. When Gillette appears to die from natural causes, Sharon Hill produces a forged contract of marriage and Tyler must decide if he will sacrifice his reputation to defend that of the woman who inspired his irrational obsession.
At Worthy’s trial, Matthew saves Worthy by producing a stunning courtroom surprise and his attempt to stop the deadly fortune hunter ends in a violent climax.
The included synopsis will tell you what the book is about so I won’t repeat the plot. I will tell you that it is definitely worthy of the time investment. (Haha… worthy. Are you paying attention?) Pacing, voice, style, each an example of Margolin’s vast experience not only as a writer, but within the legal arena as well. His descriptions are vivid, but certainly not overdone to the point of numbing the reader’s imagination.
Characters. Margolin creates three-dimensional characters, especially those centered around the law: lawyers, judges, etc. Although I did feel a few of his secondary characters could have used a bit of polish, they didn’t take from the story. For example: Before being taken in by Heather Gillette, Roxanne Brown is an uneducated young girl. She speaks as though uneducated (using words like ‘suh’ in place of ‘sir’). Heather teaches her to read and solve math problems, but she did not complete finishing school duties, but by the end of the story, she bears more etiquette and feels a bit more formal ( sir in place of suh). I felt he could have given a bit more thought into Roxanne and Sharon Hill. Sharon was bad to the bone, but her character felt superficial.
As I’ve already said, the book was a wonderful read. Aside from two or three secondary characters, they cast was well-written and three-dimensional. Their interactions were believable, and the story progressed at a pace expected considering the content of each scene. The only item I would disagree with from the blurb is the ‘stunning courtroom surprise’ that saves Worthy Brown. It was good lawyering. It was a direct reflection on Penny’s intelligence to put it together, but not exactly a stunning surprise, IMHO. 😉
My tastes have grown and expanded over the years. As a teenager, I read a lot of romance novels (aside from required reading for school) simply because I grew up in a rural area without easy access to a public library and romance was all my mother read. Although I enjoyed them at the time, I find myself unable to read and truly enjoy them now. Since broadening my reading horizons, I find that most romance novels either claim to be romances when in reality they are erotica looking for romance appeal, or lack depth and substance. Too often, the plots feel canned and one can only take so much of square-jawed, bronzed, hard-bodied heroes, especially when at 54, I’ve yet to meet one of these mass market Adonis’s in real life. They are as elusive as Waldo.
My first foray into the world of legal thrillers was a John Grisham novel. From that book, I was hooked. Grisham is one of my favorites of the genre, and Phillip Margolin has rightfully earned a spot next to him.
This will be my last post until after the New Year in order to enjoy my family while I’m here. I would like to take this time to wish each and every one of my readers and subscribers a truly wonderful holiday. I hope you are all able to spend it with those you love.
Merry Christmas & Happy New Year
from my home to yours…