Charles Benedict - magnetic criminal defense lawyer, amateur illusionist, and professional hit man - and private investigator Dana Cutler are on a collision course set in motion by Benedict's greatest sleight of hand yet: framing a millionaire for the murder of his much younger wife.
Ten years ago, Horace Blair fell in love with Carrie, the prosecutor during his DUI trial. After a torrid courtship, he persuaded her to marry him and to sign a prenuptial agreement guaranteeing her twenty million dollars if she remained faithful during the first 10 years of their marriage. The week before their 10th anniversary, Carrie disappears, and Horace is charged with her murder. Desperate to clear his name, the millionaire hires one of D.C.'s most brilliant and ruthless defense attorneys - Charles Benedict.
Meanwhile, private investigator Dana Cutler is in the Pacific Northwest on the trail of a stolen relic, a gold scepter dating back to the Ottoman Empire. Hitting a dead end, she returns to Virginia, perplexed and disappointed - and straight into the twisting case of Horace and Carrie Blair.
©2013 Phillip Margolin (P)2013 HarperCollins Publishers
Margolin might mature into a very good writer one day. He has a great imagination and the ability to weave a good plot. Dialogue and character development can't be faulted.
His failures are subtle but brings the book from a good read to just something to burn time on an airplane.
He needs a good editor. Someone who can tell him when something's not working. A couple of places in the book, I winced. Nope. That won't work. If I can see that, why can't the writer? To be a good read, the author has to be at least a bit smarter than the reader.
He needs to stop writing from every character's point of view. I realize it's a popular concept, but you can't let your hero get lost in the mix. More from the hero, less from minor characters.
No matter where you go, there you are.
How this tripe ever got past the 'round file' astonishes me. Cartoonish characters, clumsy, stultified dialogue and a story so inane I did not know whether to laugh or cry.
The idiotic attempt to employ magic tricks as a serious literary element was so telegraphed and patently unsophisticated, I wonder if this manuscript ever saw an editor or any sort of literary agent or publisher.
Example: Magician/Lawyer uses carny-level switcheoo in a courtroom where a college student is apparently on trial for molesting a minor. While doing so, he employs a baggie of coke to "loosen up" a 13 year-old girl. He is caught redhanded (or red somethinged) by the coppers humping a child in his car with the dope on the seat. He manages to get his hands on the drugs, in full view of the judge, lawyers, bailiffs and spectators by having his client create a diversion during which he swaps in the baking soda. Then against any semblance of actual courtroom protocol, he gets the judge to allow him to haul in a plethora of drug lab testing chemicals and paraphernalia and "discovers", to everyone's horror, that the bag holds baking side. Flummoxed, the judge decides the only intelligent path is to dismiss all charges! Was not the perp attempting to rape a minor at the time? Coke be damned, he's remains a pedophile! But that just goes away, along with any link to reality demonstrated by this author.
Even the "young adult" crowd would be rolling their eyes with this dog. I'd ask for my money back, but I am too embarrassed by having been taken in by the marketing hype used to disguised Margolin's lack of writing skill.
Phillip Margolin who writes too infrequently has created an evolving character, Dana Cuttler who could rival Jack Reacher in violence, intelligence, and personality. Margolin's plots are always carefully crafted and following the conventions of a thriller, the reader knows the villain, the suspense is discovering whether the heroine in this scenerio can succeed or be thwarted. In sleight of hand, he pits Dana against the crafty lawyer, magician, Charles benedict and the head of the Russian mob. Even the main murder victim, Carrie Blair has a brief plot turn to thwart Dana. Margolin gives Dana her first staring role in Sleight of Hand--in previous books she was supported by young lawyer Brad Miller--and she doesn't disappoint. To emphasize his point that this is Dana's story, when Dana flies to the Pacific Northwest, she doesn't even contact her friend Brad who has moved off the pages to a quieter lifestyle.
Margolin shows his control of plot and characters. Even stock characters, the uber-wealthy and powerful, the downtrotten police, the Washington legal eagles, play well in Margolin's skillful analysis,. Charles Bendict is a worthy advesary and a compelling badguy. The set-up that opens the story, a rift on a thirties film noire, is cleverly worked into the plot. Margolin has that same economy of style as Lee Childs (or a very thorough editor) so not a detail dangles.
And Jonathan Davis is the perfect narrator although his Russian mobster accent sounds a little like somebody in a NY deli. Rather than overdramatizing, his slightly forbodding tone implies more violence, suspense, and action that makes this a "page turner"
I've never read a Margolin book, they are too good as audio-stories. They only thing missing is why the audible editors don't spotlight them in mystery picks!
To get a better idea of my background. I am a working class white male in my forties. I love good fiction, and I love smart books. I have drifted towards a lot of European writers like Reginald Hill, Val McDermid.,Etc....
If 5 stars is great and 1 is horrible then I guess 3 stars is a better than bad rating. If you like the genre of modern day Mafia and hit men, have an extra credit, and don't want to be challenged. This could be the book for you. I was hoping for better - So I'm not going to give it a great endorsement.
RETIRED & LOVING IT.
THIS IS FAST PACED, BRILLIANT WRITING. ONCE YOU START, YOU CANNOT STOP, I WAS UP ALL NIGHT, AGAIN.
A former accountant and staff trainer. Now retired, I enjoy knitting and weaving. I enjoy intelligent, insightful books with lead characters I respect. I deplore novels fille with gratuitous violence and depraved sexual behavior written to shock the reader.
No. The story seemed to switch from one primary character to another... hard to tell who the main protagonist was. There were so many characters and changes of scene, that it was hard to tell who some of the speakers were supposed to be. There wasn't really any character portrayed with much depth. Characters spoke in conversations, but there wasn't any narrative about what people were thinking or why.
It's an adequate vacation read, but not a satisfying novel.
The most interesting aspect was the step by step "reveal" of how the villain managed to frame the victim's husband.
That's my problem. While Dana apparently is a continuing character, there was little done to develop her as a full and real person... and I didn't identify with her issues of excess violence while defending herself because of past, but unexplained, experiences. I didn't particularly like or dislike her.. but not motivated to read another in the series.
Not for this plot... apparently there is a continuing character but I really don't care if the character is brought into other novels because I didn't particularly like or respect her.
Narrator rather dry and unemotional.
For the first couple hours of Sleight of Hand, I found myself debating about whether to finish this listen. I am so glad I made it past and finished it as once it grabbed me I found I could not put it down. I love mysteries/thrillers and this one was a lot of fun.
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