Murder at Black Oaks
A Robin Lockwood Novel
In Phillip Margolin's Murder at Black Oaks, Attorney Robin Lockwood finds herself at an isolated retreat in the Oregon mountains, one with a tragic past and a legendary curse, and surrounded by many suspects and confronted with an impossible crime.
Defense Attorney Robin Lockwood is summoned by retired District Attorney Francis Melville to meet with him at Black Oaks, the manor he owns up in the Oregon mountains. The manor has an interesting history - originally built in 1628 in England, there's a murderous legend and curse attached to the mansion. Melville, however, wants Lockwood's help in a legal matter - righting a wrongful conviction from his days as a DA. A young man, Jose Alvarez, was convicted of murdering his girlfriend only for Melville, years later when in private practice, to have a client of his admit to the murder and to framing the man Melville convicted. Unable to reveal what he knew due to attorney client confidence, Melville now wants Lockwood's help in getting that conviction overturned.
Successful in their efforts, Melville invites Lockwood up to Black Oaks for a celebration. Lockwood finds herself among an odd group of invitees - including the bitter, newly released, Alvarez. When Melville is found murdered, with a knife connected to the original curse, Lockwood finds herself faced with a conundrum - who is the murder among them and how to stop them before there's another victim.
Margolin's enjoyable sixth novel featuring Portland, Ore., defense attorney Robin Lockwood (after The Darkest Place) effectively merges a legal thriller with an impossible crime. Frank Melville retired from practicing law after securing an acquittal for Archie Stallings, a client accused of date rape, in 1997. Stallings had previously been Melville's prime witness in his successful prosecution in 1990 of Jose Alvarez for bludgeoning to death a fellow college student, Margo Prescott. After the acquittal, Stallings shocked Melville by confessing to both the rape and to killing Prescott, relying on attorney-client privilege to remain at liberty for the homicide. Now, after Stallings's death from a heart attack, Melville calls Robin to Black Oaks, his isolated mansion in the Oregon hills, in the hope she can find a way around the privilege to exonerate Alvarez, who's been on death row for decades. Robin's visit to Black Oaks is complicated by a stabbing murder inside a locked elevator in the mansion. A curse attached to the mansion adds to the intrigue. Both the solution to Melville's dilemma and the one to the locked-room murder are convincing. John Dickson Carr fans will be pleased. Agent: Jennifer Weltz, Jean V. Naggar Literary.