Matthew Penny, a young lawyer, arrives on the frontier with nothing but shattered dreams. Unable to face the memories that await back home, he joins the handful of lawyers practicing in Portland, Oregon - which in 1860 is just a riverfront town in a state less than a year old. Worthy Brown, a slave from Georgia, journeys west with his master, Caleb Barbour, who promises to reward Worthy and his daughter, Roxanne, with their freedom if they help him establish a homestead in Oregon. When Barbour reneges on his pledge, Worthy's hope for a fresh start with his child is destroyed.
The fates of these desperate men intertwine in a breathtaking narrative about the extent of evil and the high price of true justice. Matthew and Worthy decide to challenge Barbour in court, but events rapidly spiral out of their control and the stakes become higher than either of them ever could have imagined. And when Matthew crosses paths with Heather Gillette, the beautiful daughter of a wealthy Portland businessman, his grief-stricken existence is turned upside down, and suddenly he has everything to fight for. Worthy Brown's Daughter is a compelling white-knuckle drama about two broken men risking everything for what they believe in.
©2014 Phillip Margolin (P)2014 HarperCollinsPublishers
"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)
"Margolin shines in recreating pioneer life . . . there’s legal wrangling, murder and romance, set against the backdrop of race and frontier life . . . his scene-setting, knowledge of the frontier and relating of the hard task of the law make for an appealing read." (Kirkus Reviews)
"[Margolin] allows passions to sway his heroes, and generates empathy toward his crooks. . . . [On] the courtroom floor, where Margolin is clearly at home, [there is] a satisfying, white-knuckle climax." (Publishers Weekly)
I am an avid eclectic reader.
I have enjoyed Phillip Margolin’s legal thriller set in current times but this is a very different book for Margolin. This a historical novel set in 1860 Portland Oregon. Margolin states that he loosely based the story on a true legal case in 1861 Portland. According to Margolin when Oregon wrote its state constitution it did not allow black people to settle in Oregon but those there prior to statehood could stay and own land. The real case had a black family that was slaves to a white man. When statehood passed he freed the parents and one child but kept the other children as servants. The parents sued for their children to be freed and returned to them and they won the case. In this book Margolin has a black man freed after statehood but the slave owner Caleb Barbour an attorney refused to release his 14 year old daughter. Mr. Worthy Brown contacted attorney Mr. Penny to sue for her freedom. There are several plots going on at the same time and they all come together at the end of the book. Margolin has a knack for storytelling. This book is a fast, absorbing read and Margolin’s law expertise makes the book’s climax, a courtroom battle very realistic and exciting. The ending of the book is interesting and exciting. Phillip Margolin is a criminal defense attorney who has become a novelist so the legal aspect of the story is realistic. February is National Black month so this story about slavery in Oregon in 1960 is a perfect topic to read this month. Jason Culp did an excellent job narrating the book.
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