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The Associate


The Associate

still watch "Star Trek." I mean the real "Star Trek," not
the subsequent pretenders with their Janeways and Picards (I mean,
Jean-Luc couldn't even beat his older, wimpy brother at mud
wrestling, for heaven's sake). No, I mean "Star Trek" (make that
"STAR TREK"), with Kirk and Spock and
foxy-'til-the-day-she-dies Lieutenant Uhura. My second favorite
episode was "Amok Time," when Spock went into the Vulcan version of
heat, and went back to Vulcan to claim his betrothed, only to find
that she had chosen another. Spock's intended was a real piece of
work --- among other things, she put him into a fight to the death
with Captain Kirk. This fact was ultimately not lost on Spock, who
turned to his rival near the end of the episode and said, "Having
is not always as good as wanting. It is illogical, but nonetheless
true." These are words that, at various times in my life, I should
have remembered before carrying out some act of foolishness. I did
remember them, though, while reading THE ASSOCIATE, the latest
offering from Phillip Margolin.

Daniel Ames grew up hard and poor at the end of some of the
roughest streets in town. After running away from "home" (that
being wherever his mother happened to be living at any given
moment) and living on the streets by the age of 17, some instinct
made him join the Army. The disciplined life gave him a stability
he had never known, while recognizing his there-to-fore
unacknowledged intelligence. Ames, after his tour of duty was
completed, worked his way without a net through college, then law
school. No one was more surprised than he when he was hired as an
associate with Reed, Briggs --- Portland, Oregon's most prestigious
law firm. Ames cannot escape the feeling, however, that his hold on
success is tenuous, that one day it will slip and all fall away
from him. And, one day, at the beginning of THE ASSOCIATE, it

Ames, taking on more than he should to help an ultimately
ungrateful colleague, is scapegoated when the case they're working
on goes south, apparently due to Ames's carelessness. Ames begins
to closely investigate the facts of the case --- and Reed, Briggs'
involvement in it --- in order to clear his name and win back his
job. He soon discovers, however, that the principals in the
litigation have secrets that stretch across the country and over a
decade. As Ames uncovers a twisted tale of deceit and murder, he is
unable to distinguish who he can trust from who he can't; and he
has serious doubts, not only about everything he has worked so hard
to acquire, but also his place in the scheme of things. He, like
Spock, comes to the hard truth that having is not always as good as

Margolin, as he has from the beginning of his career, continues to
impress and surprise with his unpredictability. I will confess, I
read suspense novels by the caseload and usually figure out the
endings to most of them. I thought I had this one sussed; I was
wrong right up to practically the last page. Even if you figure out
THE ASSOCIATE from the get-go, you'll still have fun seeing how
Margolin gets there.

Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub on January 20, 2011

The Associate
by Phillip Margolin

  • Publication Date: August 1, 2002
  • Genres: Fiction, Thriller
  • Mass Market Paperback: 416 pages
  • Publisher: HarperTorch
  • ISBN-10: 0061030643
  • ISBN-13: 9780061030642