Book Review

A Book Review of Sleight of Hand by Phillip Margolin

Review first published on RebeccasReads

SleightofHandSleight of Hand
Phillip Margolin
Harper (2013)
ISBN 9780062069917
Reviewed by Narayan Radhakrishnan for Rebecca’s Reads (5/13)

Phillip Margolin might have been a magnificent lawyer. It takes one such experienced thinking lawyer to deliver a book like “Sleight of Hand”. Having read all of Margolin’s work, I have always felt that literature’s gain might have been the loss of the courtroom. As a lawyer myself, I owe aplenty to Mr. Margolin…having successfully used a line of defense he had promoted as a trial lawyer…the battered women’s syndrome. What it is and how it helped me…well that is another story.

I have been fascinated by the strong lady protagonists of Margolin novels especially Amanda Jaffe of “Wild Justice” and “Proof Positive”. And when Margolin introduced a new female protagonist, Dana Cutler, I had my misgivings. Was such a character needed when he had Jaffe…but soon I realized- Dana’s profession as a private investigator gives more room for action and thrills, whereas Jaffes’s exploits comes more out of court related matters.  I enjoyed Cutler’s exploits in “Executive Privilege”, Capitol Murder and “Supreme Justice”….but this novel is t-h-e best Cutler novel I have ever read.

Margolin weaves three stories- intricate subplots into one that makes awesome reading. On one had there is this millionaire Horace Blair accused of murdering his wife a prosecutor, a week before a pertinent clause in their pre-nuptial agreement comes to a close; on the other hand there is this enigmatic lady who requires the help of Dana Cutler in tracing down an old golden scepter in the erstwhile Ottoman empire. On the third hand there is this bizarre, sly magician and attorney Charles Benedict who literarily goes for a kill to secure justice for his client. And now Horace has engaged Charles in defending him…and there is a sneaky feeling around- was Charles Benedict himself involved in the disappearance of Horace’s wife. Is he the actual culprit and will he prove to be a boon or bane for Horace Blair. Meanwhile Cutler’s investigation points that the Blair family has something to do with the golden scepter. And she unwittingly steps into conundrum created by the magician lawyer and the accused millionaire, Charles Benedict. Will this ‘Blair Magician Project’ put Dana’s life into danger?

How the gutsy and clever investigator proceeds with this bizarre case forms the backbone of this novel.  Full of twists and turns, this rollercoaster of a novel is one fine read. And without being a spoilsport let me just say one thing- never, ever trust a lawyer….and yup I am a lawyer myself.


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