Known for his critically acclaimed contemporary thrillers, New York Times bestselling author Phillip Margolin explores intriguing new territory in Worthy Brown's Daughter, a compelling historical drama, set in nineteenth-century Oregon, that combines a heartbreaking story of slavery and murder with classic Margolin plot twists.
One of a handful of lawyers in the new state of Oregon, recently widowed Matthew Penny agrees to help Worthy Brown, a newly freed slave, rescue his fifteen year old daughter, Roxanne, from their former master, a powerful Portland lawyer. Worthy's lawsuit sets in motion events that lead to Worthy's arrest for murder and create an agonizing moral dilemma that could send either Worthy or Matthew to the hangman.
At the same time, hanging judge Jed Tyler, a powerful politician with a barren personal life, becomes infatuated with a beautiful gold-digger who is scheming to murder Benjamin Gillette, Oregon's wealthiest businessman. When Gillette appears to die from natural causes, Sharon Hill produces a forged contract of marriage and Tyler must decide if he will sacrifice his reputation to defend that of the woman who inspired his irrational obsession.
At Worthy's trial, Matthew saves Worthy by producing a stunning courtroom surprise and his attempt to stop the deadly fortune hunter ends in a violent climax.
Based loosely on true events, the latest legal thriller from criminal defense attorney turned bestseller Margolin (Lost Lake) follows Matthew Penny, a pistol-bearing lawyer guided by his own moral compass. Portland, Ore., in the 1860s is a nest of conflict: property lawsuits stall the inevitable construction of a railroad, and a black man on trial expects a racist jury. Here, the innocent is Worthy Brown, a freed black man who asks Matthew to rescue his daughter, Roxanne, from Caleb Barbour, a crooked lawyer who illegally holds her in servitude. When Worthy is discovered standing over Caleb's dead body, and only he and Matthew know the truth, justice seems unlikely. Around this central drama, Margolin establishes characters that might have stepped out of a grainy Western, among them the evil siren Sharon Hill "a full-figured woman whose oval face was framed by ebony ringlets that were in sharp contrast to her milk-white complexion." Margolin allows passions to sway his heroes, and generates empathy toward his crooks. If only the black characters worshipped their white benefactors less, or if one female character was spared a derogatory physical description. The plot is at times frustratingly one-dimensional, but Matthew is ultimately forced to distinguish truth from justice. On the courtroom floor, where Margolin is clearly at home, the stock characters adopt roles, albeit briefly, in a satisfying, white-knuckle climax.
I read this for a talk that Phillip did. He’s an amazing orator.
Worthy Brown's Daughter
Best read in a while. Phillip Margolin's best. I want more of these characters. Please write more books about these characters. Aren't you tired of writing the same formula for Dana & Amanda?
A moving departure
I have been a long time fan of Mr. Margolin. At the outset of the book I did not know if I was going to finish it; if it would interest me as his others had. Shortly I was captivated by the plot, the characters and the richness of the work. If anything this book painted a canvas much bigger and with greater depth than his others (and I certainly am not detracting from them.) By the end I could only describe it as a moving narrative that combines the drama or the law with compelling issues of the time - and this time. As a senior citizen and life long resident of the South, I have seen the fact of prejudice and witnessed the rise toward rightful value of all men. That journey is not over, but narratives like this one will help us all strive to stay true to the course. So this is more than just an enthralling read or a pleasant pastime. Thanks for what you have done, Phillip.