9/9/2016/ ISBN 9780062266552
by Elise Cooper
| Violent Crimes
by Phillip Margolin brings back the “take no prisoner”
defense attorney Amanda Jaffe. In this fifth book of the series
she has two clients suspected of the same murder, one accused
while the other confesses. Beyond that readers get an interesting
glimpse into the court process given Margolin’s ability
to use his experiences of being a former top-notch defense attorney.
His style of writing is “plot driven. Everything starts
with some idea. After that I try to figure out what characters
would fit into the story. Take for example Ties That Bind,
I had no intention of putting Amanda and Frank Jaffe in it,
but after thinking about it, I knew these characters would fit
perfectly. With Violent Crimes it was a combination
of wanting to bring Amanda back, but making sure it did not
The plot begins when Amanda is asked to defend Tom Beatty, a
former Special Forces Warrior, who has PTSD, and is accused
of using excessive force in a bar fight. Although the charges
were dismissed Tom’s troubles are only beginning after
he is suspected of murdering his co-worker and dealing drugs.
Shortly after getting him out on bail another lawyer, Dale Materson,
is found dead, also beaten to death. While investigating the
case Amanda finds that Materson’s business practices are
suspect. The case gets more complicated when his son, Brandon,
a radical activist determined to martyr himself for his cause,
claims he killed his father. Amanda now has to defend two clients,
trying to prove both innocent.
The contrast between defendants makes for an interesting read.
Tom is someone everyone will root for, while Brandon is as dislikeable
as they come. Margolin explores how sometimes a person’s
background can influence how he is regarded. Because Tom was
a former Warrior and now has PTSD he is seen as dangerous, but
Margolin does a wonderful job of showing him as loyal, bright,
and caring. On the other hand, Brandon is seen as an obsessed
eco-warrior who resents his father for representing the interests
of oil and coal companies. Being Dale’s son it becomes
evident that the apple does not fall far from the tree considering
Brandon is an egomaniac and thoroughly unpleasant.
Hopefully no one will ever be put into Tom’s position
because Margolin points out in the book “Defending a murder
case is expensive… two hundred and fifty thousand to start.”
The plot explains how a death penalty case is unlike any other
criminal case including a regular murder trial. In death cases
the same jury decides not only the person’s guilt, but
also a day or two later if they should receive the death sentence.
Margolin commented to blackfive.net, “Yes, twelve of them.
I might be the only legal thriller writer who has actually worked
on death cases. What you see in my books are things I have actually
done in real life. In every other criminal case there is about
a month between the conviction and the sentencing, not with
death cases. It becomes really complicated so a lawyer has to
hire many experts and investigators.”
Violent Crimes allows the readers to understand what
defense lawyers are up against. Even seasoned pros like Amanda
Jaffe must make hard ethical and moral decisions. Violent
Crimes is a captivating legal thriller.