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Sleight of Hand: A Novel of Suspense (Dana Cutler) Hardcover – April 9, 2013


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Product Details

  • Series: Dana Cutler
  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Harper; 1st Printing edition (April 9, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0062069918
  • ISBN-13: 978-0062069917
  • Product Dimensions: 9.3 x 6.4 x 1.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (163 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #392,295 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Margolin kicks off his latest thriller with a bit of literary legerdemain. He introduces Charles Benedict, a strikingly handsome and charismatic defense attorney and amateur magician who appears to be the novel's leading man. But Benedict is swiftly exposed as an extremely effective homicidal sociopath, and the book shifts to its true protagonist, private sleuth Dana Cutler, who is quickly dispatched on a convoluted cross-country search for a bejeweled golden scepter with a history curiously similar to that of Sam Spade's famous Maltese Falcon. It's a given that this quest will eventually bring the shrewd detective in contact with the homicidal Benedict. Jonathan Davis's narration is smooth and well paced. He adds just the right amount of smarm and smirk to Benedict's speech and captures all of Dana's drive, determination, and fearlessness. The book's other characters have more than their share of accents—from the mysterious Frenchwoman who sends Dana after the scepter to a surprisingly cheery Russian mob boss. Davis ably handles these and others in a stylish performance with just an appropriate hint of sardonic amusement. A Harper hardcover. (Apr.) --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Booklist

After criminal defense attorney Charles Benedict accidentally kills a woman in the heat of the moment (while attempting to blackmail her to the tune of $250,000), he frames the woman’s husband for the murder. The victim, Carrie Blair, was a prosecutor, and her husband, Horace, is a very wealthy man, meaning that Benedict still sees a way to make some cash out of the deal. Meanwhile, private investigator Dana Cutler—Margolin fans will remember her from several novels, including Capitol Murder (2012)—is trying to track down a missing ancient relic, and her investigation leads her to the Blair murder case. There’s a really good story here—clever defense lawyer frames man for murder, then takes the man on as his client—but it’s obscured by a lot of unnecessary material. The connection between Cutler’s missing relic and the Blair case, for example, is unnecessarily complicated and massively distracting. It’s as if Margolin had two stories, Benedict’s and Cutler’s, and rather than writing a novel about each, he decided to mash them together. As with so many of his recent novels, this one’s for devoted fans only. --David Pitt

More About the Author

I grew up in New York City and Levittown, New York. In 1965, I graduated from the American University in Washington, D.C., with a bachelor's degree in government. I spent 1965 to 1967 in Liberia, West Africa, as a Peace Corps volunteer, graduated from New York University School of Law in 1970 as a night student. I went nights and worked as a junior high teacher in the South Bronx to support myself. My first job following law school was a clerkship with Herbert M. Schwab, the chief judge of the Oregon Court of Appeals, and from 1972 until 1996, I was in private practice, specializing in criminal defense at the trial and appellate levels. As an appellate attorney I have appeared before the United States Supreme Court, the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, the Oregon Supreme Court, and the Oregon Court of Appeals. As a trial attorney, I handled all sorts of criminal cases in state and federal court, and have represented approximately thirty people charged with homicide, several of whom faced the death penalty. I was the first Oregon attorney to use battered women's syndrome to defend a woman accused of murdering her spouse.

Since 1996, I have been writing full-time. All of my novels have been bestsellers. Heartstone, my first novel, was nominated by the Mystery Writers of America for an Edgar for best original paperback mystery of 1978. My second novel, The Last Innocent Man, was made into an HBO movie. Gone, But Not Forgotten has been sold to more than twenty-five foreign publishers and was made into a miniseries starring Brooke Shields. It was also the Main Selection of the Literary Guild. After Dark was a Book of the Month Club selection. The Burning Man, my fifth novel, published in August 1996, was the Main Selection of the Literary Guild and a Reader's Digest condensed book. My sixth novel, The Undertaker's Widow, was published in 1998 and was a Book of the Month Club selection. Wild Justice (HarperCollins, September 2000) was a Main Selection of the Literary Guild, a selection of the Book of the Month Club, and was nominated for an Oregon Book Award. The Associate was published by HarperCollins in August 2001, and Ties that Bind was published by HarperCollins in March 2003. My tenth novel, Sleeping Beauty, was published by HarperCollins on March 23, 2004. Lost Lake was published by HarperCollins in March 2005 and was nominated for an Oregon Book Award. Proof Positive was published by HarperCollins in July 2006. Executive Privilege was published by HarperCollins in May 2008 and in 2009 was given the Spotted Owl Award for the Best Northwest Mystery. Fugitive was published by HarperCollins on June 2, 2009. Willamette Writers gave me the 2009 Distinguished Northwest Writers Award. My latest novel, Supreme Justice, was published by HarperCollins in May 2010. My next novel, Capitol Murder, will come out in April 2012.

On October 11, 2011, HarperCollins will publish Vanishing Acts, my first Young Adult novel, which I wrote with my daughter, Ami Margolin Rome. Also in October, the short story "The Case of the Purloined Paget," which I wrote with my brother, Jerry, will be published by Random House in the anthology A Study in Sherlock.

In addition to my novels, I have published short stories and nonfiction articles in magazines and law journals. My short story "The Jailhouse Lawyer" was selected for the anthology The Best American Mystery Stories 1999. The House on Pine Terrace was selected for the anthology The Best American Mystery Stories 2010.

From 1996 to 2009 I was the president and chairman of the Board of Chess for Success. I am still heavily involved in the program, and returned to the board after a one-year absence in 2010. Chess for Success is a nonprofit charity that uses chess to teach study skills to elementary- and middle-school children in Title I schools . From 2007 to the present, I have been on the Board of Literary Arts, which sponsors the Oregon Book Awards, the Writers in the Schools program, and Portland Arts and Lectures.

Customer Reviews

Way too easy to figure out the ending.
Darmel Benshoof
I couldn't put it down, I found it to be a quick read, It was one that kept your interest.
j Russell
This was a ridiculously implausible plot and totally no character development.
Kaytwo

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

24 of 29 people found the following review helpful By Lloyd Russell - The Book Sage on April 9, 2013
Format: Hardcover
Phillip Margolin's 17th novel, Sleight of Hand, will hit the stores (and ereaders) on April 9. I have read all of Margolin's books and have enjoyed each and every one - to varying degrees. Some I've liked a lot, and others I've simply liked. This one is in the 2nd category. As I've mentioned ad nauseum (I'm sure you've read some of my posts and come down with that particular condition!), there is a definite comfort knowing that when you pick up a Margolin (or a Michael Palmer or a James Grippando or...), that you will be entertained. The writing is always good, and the story lines hold your attention. If some are better than others, that's really okay.

Sleight of Hand centers around Dana Cutler (for the 4th time), who is a private investigator in D.C. She gets involved in a very bizarre case involving a multi-millionaire businessman, his wife who is a federal prosecutor, and a well-known criminal defense attorney who dabbles in magic and illusions. 10 years earlier, Horace (the rich guy) actually confesses in court to a DUI so that he can get close to Carrie (the federal prosecutor). They end up getting married, and Horace has Carrie sign a pre-nup that says she will get 20 million dollars if she stays faithful to him for 10 years. The week before the 10-year anniversary, Carrie disappears. Charles (the criminal defense attorney) becomes very involved in ALL aspects of this case. Add in a royal scepter from the Ottoman Empire, and you've got a lot of story in a fairly short book (309 pages in the ARC - advanced reader's copy - with big print and only 30 lines per full page). I thought some of his details were a little far-fetched. But he took a complicated plot and held it together pretty well.

As I said, I liked this book.
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14 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Books and Chocolate TOP 500 REVIEWER on April 13, 2013
Format: Hardcover
This book starts out with what seems to be two separate, unrelated stories. Although both were interesting on their own, I kept wondering how they would come together and the first connection was made in chapter 13. From there it became even more of a "page-turner" for me as I wanted to discover how it would all end.

One story involves Dana Cutler, a private investigator hired to track down a stolen relic that turns out to be a dead end. She returns to Virginia only to become involved in the second story that involves the murder of Carrie Blair days before she would receive millions of dollars from her husband Horace according to the terms of their prenuptual agreement and he is charged with her murder. In a series of twists and turns, the two seemingly unrelated incidences develop a common thread and Dana finds herself facing a powerful enemy: Horace Blair's defense attorney Charles Benedict. Dana uncovers evidence that Horace may have been framed for the murder, but Benedict blocks her attempts to get the answers she needs. Soon she becomes a target of the real killer as she pursues truth.

This is the first book I've read by this author and was impressed with his ability to take multiple storylines and complex characters and bring them together in a way that held got and held my attention. The only negative for me was some of the language used, but the plot itself and how it all unfolded was everything I want in a good suspense novel.

I received a copy of this book for review from the publisher but the opinion of it is my own and was not solicited, nor was a positive review required.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Bruce Barth on October 15, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
You know you are in trouble when the book starts with stuff like "who's who in the Washington legal community" and our main character is "strikingly handsome" blah blah blah. God, this stuff is such formulaic dreg that it should be hiding behind the Enquirer in the check out line. What's most disappointing is this guy at one time could actually write. This is such shameless whoring you should go back to being a lawyer. I think I really gave up on the dialog when Claire is drunk in the bar, she's "so far into her cups"... I mean, come on, who talks like this? Does this guy think he's Keats and Joyce incarnate? Sorry, those guys had a soul -you sold yours a long time ago.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Thunderofsilence on May 13, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This book, to me, is the most interesting than all of Mr. Margolin's books. His main character, Charles Benedict, is a criminal attorney with no morals, along with being a magician, and a murderer. I thought this was great reading. I actually cheated and looked at the end of the book because I couldn't stand the suspense of not knowing how it would turn out. I also like his character, Dana Cutler. READ THIS BOOK!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Harriet Klausner #1 HALL OF FAME on April 16, 2013
Format: Hardcover
Sleight of Hand
Phillip Margolin
Harper, Apr 9 2013, $26.99
ISBN: 9780062069917

A decade ago, millionaire Horace Blair met and fell in love with Carrie when she was a Commonwealth ADA prosecuting his DUI trial. Much older than her, he persuaded her to marry him, but also sign a prenup in which she would receive twenty million dollars if she never cheated in the first ten years of their marriage. One week prior to her fulfilling the terms of their agreement, Carrie vanishes. The police arrests Horace charging him with murdering his wife to avoid paying her the money. He hires defense attorney Charles Benedict to defend him in court.

Private investigator Dana Cutler returns to Virginia after failing to find an Ottoman Empire stolen gold scepter on the other side of the country. The former cop becomes involved in the Blair case and begins to find contrary evidence that the wrong person is on trial for a Capitol Murder. However, attempts on her life affirm her belief that a magician is getting away with a Sleight of the Hand.

The latest Cutler investigative thriller (see Supreme Justice and Executive Privilege) is an exciting mystery as the sleuth confronts a diabolical brilliant adversary. Fast-paced and filled with suspense, readers who can ignore the villain's seemingly superhuman skills to get away with murder and grand theft will enjoy this taut tale.

Harriet Klausner
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