Washington, DC is teeming with powerful people, rich businessmen, politicians and a slug of attorneys. One of those is a slick lawyer named Charles Benedict. Benedict has quite a reputation, not necessarily all good, besides some questionable clients and a murky past. He also has a side business, one that involves more than the underhanded tactics he employs in his law practice. You have to hand it to him, though; he wins cases.
Prosecutor Carrie Blair doesn't like to play ball with Benedict and makes it clear. After one especially frustrating loss, she goes missing. Her millionaire husband is left taking the rap. But he swears he has done nothing. So what happened to her? It doesn’t take long before evidence is found pointing squarely at Horace Blair for his wife’s disappearance. He lawyers up quickly --- just maybe not quickly enough. Damage has already been done. And guess who Horace hired? You’re right, Charles Benedict.
"As always, Phillip Margolin writes with ease, and it shows here in spades. The story unfolds effortlessly with the suspense ratcheting up page by page."
Ex-cop-turned-PI Dana Cutler, whom we last encountered in CAPITOL MURDER, now makes a decent living working cases for insurance companies and occasional walk-ins. The downside is that it’s usually deadly boring. So when a woman with a French accent and an intriguing tale involving an ancient scepter waves a large retainer under Dana’s nose, she jumps at the chance. Who wouldn’t? Money, excitement and a cross-country airplane ticket. The chase is on, and it takes her immediately to the other Washington, where she ends up stranded on an island in a bad storm. Things start to get hairy. Is this really happening? Dana starts to feel like she’s stuck in a cheap novel. So why was she sent there in such a hurry? Figuring it out proves to be a thorny problem, and what she finds leaves her thoroughly confused.
Meanwhile, back home in DC, the Blair case is heating up. Benedict is hard at work on it, while the tycoon is cooling his heels in jail. Anonymous tips and leads from various shady types seem to be lucky breaks for the prosecution. Evidence just magically appears. Then something happens to make the detectives investigating Carrie’s murder start to wonder. In fact, more than one something. And the case takes a stunning turn.
Dana joins the police in this new direction. Technically, she was the one to put them on this path to begin with. It will be quite a trick to pull their plan off. Failing could mean the end of several careers, if not lives. But they have thought of an ingenious way to turn the tables on their quarry. And the elusive scepter might yet have a role to play.
As always, Phillip Margolin writes with ease, and it shows here in spades. The story unfolds effortlessly with the suspense ratcheting up page by page. Dana Cutler is a miracle survivor, a character her fans hope to see much more of. Legal thriller, suspense and mystery lovers alike will revel in SLEIGHT OF HAND.
Reviewed by Kate Ayers on April 12, 2013