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.