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.
"On the courtroom floor, where Margolin is clearly at home, the stock characters adopt roles, albeit briefly, in a satisfying, white-knuckle climax." - Publishers Weekly
"The Old West comes alive in heart-wrenching, violent, and wicked racist color... Legal thriller and western fans will stay with it to the last page... Margolin's novel offers a compelling portrait of small town justice done right." - Booklist
"With plenty of action and short chapters, this historical legal thriller is a quick read. Some of the conversation seems stilted and contrived, and certain plotlines are too easily and quickly tied up." - Library Journal
"Margolin's dialogue is sometimes affected, sometimes faintly anachronistic, but his scene-setting, knowledge of the frontier and relating of the hard task of the law make for an appealing read that, the author says, took 30 years to write. " - Kirkus
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Rated of 5
Worthy Brown's Daughter
Portland, Oregon is the 1860's is a typical frontier town, a place where things are not very easy. Yet, Matthew seizes the opportunity to relocate there from the east, and he and his wife join the wagons heading over the Oregon Trail. Matthew makes it to Oregon, his wife does not.
Once in Oregon,Matthew who is a lawyer becomes embroiled in a few cases over a property dispute and lands on the wrong side of a man, who does not easily forgive. He also decides to undertake the lawsuit of a negro, the said Worthy, whose daughter in still being held as a slave even though slaves are illegal in Oregon.
Margolin has written legal thrillers for many years so he knows his way around a courtroom. and this one is loosely based on a true incident. Really enjoyed Matthew's character and the rough and tumble of this western town. The corruption and graft, violence never far from the core. It was very unusual for a white man at that time to take on the defense of a black man, yet it was done.
There were a couple of subplots that I felt were not really necessary, taking away from the main plot which was very interesting. Also at the end Matthew's new love interest lectures Worthy's daughter, about doing something with her life rather than being a servant something I did not like and could have been left out. All in all a good solid read.
Rated of 5
I received an advance copy of this book from The Reading Room (Harper Collins).
Let me say right up front that I am a fan of Phillip Margolin. However, this book is very different from his other books as this one is set in the 1800s in Oregon. Worthy Brown is a freed black man, as result of the new laws in Oregon. However, his former master refused to set Worthy's daughter free. Young attorney Matthew Penny, newly arrived in Oregon, is still grief-stricken over the loss of his beloved wife on the journey to Oregon. But an encounter with Miss Heather Gillette causes him to feel a spark of life again. Then there is Sharon Hill, the consummate actress. She is able to manipulate the strongest of men. The combination of these characters and some less major ones creates a drama that is hard to break yourself away from.
While a fan of Margolin, I couldn't imagine him writing a western! But it grabbed me almost from the very beginning. It is an easy and quick read which is what I needed right now. I loved this book
Phillip Margolin grew up in New York City and Levittown, New York. In 1965, he graduated from The American University in Washington, D.C. with a Bachelor's Degree in Government. From 1965 to 1967, he was a Peace Corps volunteer in Liberia, West Africa. In 1970, he graduated from New York University School of Law. During his last two years in law school he went at night and worked his way through by teaching junior high school in the South Bronx in New York City. His first job after law school was a clerkship with Herbert M. Schwab, the Chief Judge of the Oregon Court of Appeals. From 1972 until 1996, Margolin was in private practice in Portland, Oregon, specializing in criminal defense at the trial and appellate levels. As an appellate attorney he has appeared before the ...
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