Wednesday, April 17, 2013

SLEIGHT OF HAND by Phillip Margolin

With sixteen New York Times bestsellers under his belt ace mystery writer Philip Margolin knows his craft well, and it shows in every sentence of Sleight Of Hand.  From the opening pages to a couldn’t-possibly-guess finish we’re treated to one of the most exciting, fast-moving legal thrillers to be found.

For starters we meet Charles Benedict, charismatic defense attorney, amateur magician and sinister hit man.  Although not a power player among Washington’s wealthiest and most influential he still commands attention when he enters a room with his movie star good looks and the easily imaginable “field of force emanating from him.”  He’s thought of as brilliant but there’s a little something off about the cases he wins - evidence and witnesses have an inconvenient way of vanishing.

However, this time out Benedict may need every trick up his sleeve to frame a zillionaire for the murder of his younger wife.  Almost a decade ago the wife, Carrie, signed a pre-nup agreement that would gross her 20 million dollars if she remained faithful to Horace Blair for the first ten years of their marriage.

At about the same time we again meet Dana Cutler, the sharp private investigator from several of Margolin’s previous works.  She’s hired by a mysterious woman with a French accent who offers more money than Dana cares to turn down to find a stolen gold scepter dating from the Ottoman Empire.  Her search begins and dead-ends on the West Coast’s Isle of Muerta.  She returns home puzzled and disappointed.

Although Dana’s has apparently failed things are heating up in the D.C. area.  An old man’s body is found in a field and Carrie Blair has disappeared.  An anonymous tipster tells the police to look in Horace’s Bentley where a smear of blood, blond hairs (both Carrie’s) and a gun are found.  Horace is soon charged with her murder and he hires Benedict to defend him.

Could there possibly be a connection between the dead man found in a field, a lost scepter, and Carrie’s murder?  What a trip it is to find out!  Sleight Of Hand is one of the most intriguing tale to come my way in a long time - enjoy!

- Gail Cooke

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