Phillip Margolin’s VIOLENT CRIMES Reviewed

Violent Crimes Book Five in the Amanda Jaffes series Phillip Margolin Harper Collins Feb. 9th, 2016 Violent Crimes by Phillip Margolin brings back the “take no prisoner” defense attorney Amanda Jaffe. In this fifth book of the series she has two clients suspected of the same murder, one accused while the other confesses. Beyond that readers get an interesting glimpse into the court process given Margolin’s ability to use his experiences of being a former top-notch defense attorney. The plot begins when Amanda is asked to defend Tom Beatty, a former Special Forces Warrior, who has PTSD, and is accused of using excessive force in a bar fight. Although the charges were dismissed Tom’s troubles are only beginning after he is suspected of murdering his co-worker and dealing drugs. Shortly after getting him out on bail another lawyer, Dale Materson, is found dead, also beaten to death. While investigating the case Amanda finds that Materson’s business practices are suspect. The case gets more complicated when his son, Brandon, a radical activist determined to martyr himself for his cause, claims he killed his father. Amanda now has to defend two clients, trying to prove both innocent. The contrast between defendants makes for an interesting read. Tom is someone everyone will root for, while Brandon is as dislikeable as they come. Margolin explores how sometimes a person’s background can influence how he is regarded. Because Tom was a former Warrior and now has PTSD he is seen as dangerous, but Margolin does a wonderful job of showing him as loyal, bright, and caring. On the other hand, Brandon is seen as an obsessed eco-warrior who resents his father for representing the interests of oil and coal companies. Being Dale’s son it becomes evident that the apple does not fall far from the tree considering Brandon is an egomaniac and thoroughly unpleasant. Hopefully no one will ever be put into Tom’s position because Margolin points out in the book “Defending a murder case is expensive… two hundred and fifty thousand to start.” The plot explains how a death penalty case is unlike any other criminal case including a regular murder trial. In death cases the same jury decides not only the person’s guilt, but also a day or two later if they should receive the death sentence. Violent Crimes allows the readers to understand what defense lawyers are up against. Even seasoned pros like Amanda Jaffe must make hard ethical and moral decisions. Violent Crimes is a captivating legal thriller.   Elise...

Phillip Margolin: The VIOLENT CRIMES Interview

Violent Crimes begins when Amanda Jaffe is asked to defend Tom Beatty, a former Special Forces Warrior, who has PTSD and is accused of using excessive force in a bar fight. Although the charges were dismissed Tom’s troubles are only beginning after he is suspected of murdering his co-worker and dealing drugs. Shortly after Tom gets out on bail another lawyer, Dale Materson, is found dead, also beaten to death. The case gets more complicated when his son, Brandon, a radical activist determined to martyr himself for his cause, claims he killed his father. Amanda now has to defend two clients, trying to prove both innocent. Elise Cooper: Tom had PTSD did you do any research? Phillip Margolin: When I practiced I had cases with PTSD so I know a little about it. EC: Do you come up with a story or the characters first? PM: For me, everything is plot driven. Everything starts with some idea. After that I try to figure out what characters would fit into the story. Take for example Ties That Bind, I had no intention of putting Amanda and Frank Jaffe in it, but after thinking about it, I knew these characters would fit perfectly. With Violent Crimes it was a combination of wanting to bring Amanda back, but making sure it did not seemed forced. EC: Did you ever try death cases? PM: Yes, twelve of them. I might be the only legal thriller writer who has actually worked on death cases. What you see in my books are things I have actually done in real life. In every other criminal case there is about a month between the conviction and the sentencing, not with death cases. It becomes really complicated so a lawyer has to hire many experts and investigators. EC: Would you ever make a prosecutor the main character? PM: I have toyed with that idea. Remember in After Dark Abbie Griffin is a prosecutor and a sympathetic character when she becomes a defendant. I wrote this book after my first mega bestseller, Gone, But Not Forgotten. I did not want to write Betsy Tannenbaum books for the rest of my life. I then decided to write something different in tone. Gone is about a serial killer while After Dark is really a love story, Beauty and the Beast with lawyers. I made it intentionally different so I did not get type cast. EC: Can you give a heads up about your next book? PM: It is another death penalty case but with a twist. A top-notch criminal defense lawyer has just hired a new associate who starts to suspect that this super lawyer has dementia. EC: Rumor has it you like football? PM: My religion is professional football. On Sundays I am in front of the set from ten in the morning to eight at night. I am also a fan of the University of Oregon because I enjoy their style of football. My predication for the Super Bowl: emotionally I want the Broncos to win with Peyton Manning able to ride off into the Sunset, but putting my lawyer logical thinking cap on I just don’t see it because the Panthers have been playing lights out football. THANK...

AUTHOR WORKSPACE—TOKYO: BARRY LANCET Feb06

AUTHOR WORKSPACE—TOKYO: BARRY LANCET

  Mood, Art, and How It “Works” in My Home Office Jim Brodie, my series character, runs an antiques and art shop in Japan. Art inspires him. It grounds him. So I make my writing space fit his sensibilities. I write in two sessions—at home in the mornings, and in cafés in the afternoon. At home, I like a few places where my eyes can rest during a break, or during a pause as I consider a word, phrase, or plot point. On top of the black chest are two tea bowls and some African art, which I also have a great affinity for. Each Brodie book has some art and culture, which are woven into the story and the action. For the latest book, PACIFIC BURN, the art spotlight is on classic Oribe-style tea bowls used in the Japanese tea ceremony, a contemplative Zen-influenced ritual. Along the right side of the room and the bottom, you can see shoji paper screens over the windows. There is actually a window at floor level in this room. The paper lets in a soft diffused light. Depending on where the sun is I’ll keep the screen closed, or crack it open. As much as I like the quiet of home, too much makes me stir-crazy, so in the afternoon I’ll hit the coffeehouses for a change of atmosphere. There are some ten cafés within easy driving distance, or if I’m going into town to meet someone, I’ll hit a coffee shop in some Tokyo enclave before or after. One of these is Saboru, a writer’s and publishing hangout in the used bookstore district (see photo). It’s a bit of a throwback with a Polynesian feel, but it’s good for a change of pace. As are dozens of other choice spots in town. Saboru is tucked away down a typical Tokyo backstreet I like the sounds, the movement, the buzz of the city, people coming and going. It’s all white noise to me and doesn’t distract, but whereas in the morning I am inspired by the art and the silence, in the afternoon I draw energy for the vitality of the city. Barry Lancet Barry Lancet’slatest book is PACIFIC BURN, the third entry in his international mystery-thriller series featuring Jim Brodie. The first book, JAPANTOWN, won the Barry Award Winner for “Best Debut Novel” and the second, TOKYO KILL, was a Shamus Award finalist for “Best Hardcover P.I. Novel.” The series is drawing considerable movie and television interest. Lancet divides his time between Japan and...

THE EX by Alafair Burke Reviewed

THE EX Alafair Burke Harper Collins Jan 26th, 2016 The ex, a novel by Alafair Burke is a legal thriller. This murder mystery delves into what would happen if circumstances bring together an estranged couple where one becomes dependent upon the other. Burke, a former prosecutor, details well the legal and trial background within the complexity of relationships. The plot has one of New York City’s best criminal defense lawyers, Olivia Randall, representing her ex- fiancé, Jack Harris. He has been arrested for a triple homicide that includes a victim connected to his wife’s murder three years earlier. Burke takes the reader on a journey with Randall as she goes from vehemently believing his innocence to questioning if he is indeed guilty. Part of the reason she agrees to represent Jack is to absolve herself of the guilt, feeling somewhat responsible for his state of mind. Her past regrets are based on the way she chose to end the relationship twenty years ago when she broke his heart in an unimaginable way. These characters are flawed and each has a dark side. Jack is seen as one of those people who act like a puppy dog in a relationship, always willing to acquiesce. In some ways he was very suffocating. Starting out as friends the relationship evolved because Jack was so dependent on Olivia. The book also explores “Catfishing,” where Internet predators scam their way into romantic relationships with unsuspecting victims that seek love online. By creating fake profiles on social networking sites, these predators trick people into thinking that they are someone else entirely. Anyone who has ever heard of the Brad Paisley song “Online” will understand that the fabricated life stories and photographs allow people to be “so much cooler online,” creating an unrealistic world that they wish were their own. Readers may remember how this happened to Notre Dame football star Manti Te’o. With the backdrop of a murder case that can be considered a mass killing the ex explores the guilt and betrayal of people in relationships, past and present. Beyond that readers will also be exposed to the criminal justice system. These are reasons enough to enjoy this legal mystery. Elise...

Nominees announced for 2015 Agatha Awards Feb05

Nominees announced for 2015 Agatha Awards

The folks behind Malice Domestic have announced the nominees for the 2015 Agatha Awards. Best Contemporary Novel: BURNED BRIDGES, Annette Dashofy (Henery Press) LONG UPON THE LAND, Margaret Maron (Grand Central Publishing) THE CHILD GARDEN, Catriona McPherson (Midnight Ink) NATURE OF THE BEAST, Louise Penny (Minotaur Books) WHAT YOU SEE, Hank Phillipi Ryan (Forge Books) Best Historical Novel: MALICE AT THE PALACE, Rhys Bowen (Berkley) THE MASQUE OF A MURDERER, Susanna Calkins (Minotaur Books) DREAMING SPIES, Laurie R. King (Bantam) MRS. ROOSEVELT’S CONFIDANTE, Susan Elia Macneal (Banntam) MURDER ON AMSTERDAM AVENUE, Victoria Thompson (Berkley) Best First Novel: DEATH OF A DISHONORABLE GENTLEMAN, Tessa Arlen (Minotaur Books) MACDEATH, Cindy Brown (Henery Press) PLANTATION SHUDDERS, Ellen Byron (Crooked Lane Books) JUST KILLING TIME, Julianne Holmes (Berkley) ON THE ROAD WITH DEL AND LOUISE, Art Taylor (Henery Press) Best Nonfiction: THE GREAT DETECTIVE: THE AMAZING RISE AND IMMORTAL LIFE OF SHERLOCK HOLMES, Zack Dundas (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt) THE GOLDEN AGE OF MURDER: THE MYSTERY OF THE WRITERS WHO INVENTED THE MODERN DETECTIVE STORY, Martin Edwards (HarperCollins) A IS FOR ARSENIC: THE POISONS OF AGATHA CHRISTIE, Kathryn Harkup (Bloomsbury USA) UNSOLVED MURDERS AND DISAPPEARANCES IN NORTHEAST OHIO, Jane Ann Turzillo (Arcadia Publishing) THE MYSTERY WRITERS OF AMERICA COOKBOOK: WICKEDLY GOOD MEALS AND DESSERTS TO DIE FOR, Kate White (Editor), Harlan Coben (Contributor) and Gillian Flynn (Contributor) (Quirk Books) Best Short Story: “A Year Without Santa Claus?” by Barb Goffman (Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine, Jan./Feb. 2015) “A Questionable Death” by Edith Maxwell, History & Mystery, Oh My (Mystery & Horror, LLC) “A Killing at the Beausoleil” by Terrie Farley Moran (Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine, Nov. 2015) “Suffer the Poor” by Harriette Sackler, History & Mystery, Oh My (Mystery & Horror, LLC) “A Joy Forever” by B.K. Stevens (Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine, March 2015) Best Children’s/Young Adult: PIECES AND PLAYERS, Blue Balliett (Scholastic Press) NEED, Joelle Charbonneau (HMH Books for Young Readers) ANDI UNSTOPPABLE, Amanda Flower (Zonderkidz) WOOF, Spencer Quinn (Scholastic Press) FIGHTING CHANCE: A MARTIAL ARTS MYSTERY, B.K. Stevens (Poisoned Pen Press)vens (Poisoned Pen Press) A ballot listing each category’s nominees will be given to all attendees of Malice Domestic 28, which will be held April 29-May 1, 2016. Attendees will vote by secret ballot, the ballots will be tabulated and the winners will be announced at the 2015 Agatha Awards banquet to be held on Saturday, April 30,...