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Wild Justice Mass Market Paperback – July 31, 2001


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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

When a killing field is unearthed in the Oregon woods, it's linked to a Portland surgeon whose increasingly aggressive behavior and explosive temper have already drawn the attention of his colleagues. Neophyte attorney Amanda Jaffe takes second chair to her father, a successful criminal lawyer retained by Dr. Vincent Cardoni when he is charged with multiple counts of murder. The victims have one thing in common: they are missing vital organs, which were clearly harvested by an expert surgeon. In this explosive and fast-paced suspense thriller, the forensic evidence against Cardoni is so convincing that even after his acquittal on a technicality, the reader, like Amanda, is sure of his guilt. And when a similar field of mutilated bodies turns up years later, Cardoni is again the primary suspect. But Cardoni has disappeared, and this time it's his former wife, Justine Castle, who's implicated in the new crimes, and Amanda who's retained as the lead attorney in the case.

The particulars of the killings are so similar to the first set of murders that Amanda is convinced Cardoni is involved. When he is found to be working at the same hospital where he was once a promising surgeon (this time as a custodian and under an assumed name), she draws the logical conclusion. But when she finds Cardoni's severed hand at the scene of the crimes, she is forced to rethink the assumptions on which her defense of the doctor's ex-wife is based. Could Justine, in fact, be the killer? Author Phillip Margolin's newest book moves at an almost frantic pace. Bodies pile up, evidence mounts, and everything points to Cardoni's guilt until the end, a stunner that surprises Amanda as well as the reader. This chilling, deftly crafted novel will hold the reader's attention to the last page. --Jane Adams --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Publishers Weekly

Devious doctors test the ethics of ambitious attorneys in Margolin's (The Undertaker's Widow) latest speed-read, and give a plot already adrenalized by drug deals, serial murders and organized crime an added jolt of grisly medical mayhem. Novice criminal lawyer Amanda Jaffe helps her legal eagle father Frank defend Portland surgeon Vincent Cardoni against charges that the doctor conspired to sell illicitly harvested organs to support his coke habit and maintained a private torture chamber for his victims in a mountain cabin outside the city limits. Cardoni is freed on a technicalityDand presumed murdered by the mob shortly afterward when his disappearance coincides with the discovery of his severed hand. Four years later, Amanda is asked to lead the defense of doctor Justine Castle, Vincent's ex-wife, when her fingerprints turn up all over another cabin slaughterhouse. Amanda worries that Justine, whose first two husbands also died suspiciously, set up Vincent, but Justine has another theory: psychopathic Vincent is still alive and doing his best to frame her. En route to a breathtaking finale in which Amanda plays bait to the true killer at yet another bloodstained hideout, Margolin buffets the reader with an endless stream of pulpy plot twists: a shamed cop's reformation, rampaging Russian hit men, creative surgery and astonishingly acrobatic feats of pursuit and escape by ordinary people. Only the hysterical pace of the adventures will prevent readers from dwelling too long on their implausibility; meanwhile, pages will turn fast enough to make the perfect breeze for chilling beachside escapists. 250,000 first printing; $250,000 ad/promo; Literary Guild, Doubleday Book Club, Mystery Guild and BOMC selections; 12-city author tour.
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Mass Market Paperback: 416 pages
  • Publisher: HarperTorch (July 31, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0061030635
  • ISBN-13: 978-0061030635
  • Product Dimensions: 6.7 x 4.3 x 1.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 6.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (160 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,288,723 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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

3.8 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

62 of 67 people found the following review helpful By Nancy R. Katz VINE VOICE on September 25, 2000
Format: Hardcover
Run as fast as you can and pick up a copy of this book. That's right. I said run, so don't be walking. Of the several other books which Phillip Margolin has written, and I have read all of them, this is his very best. The action is so fast paced that the pages turn themselves and before you want it to end, you will be closing the book.
In Wild Justice, I found the characters to be so finely drawn and described, it is as if we know them well. And be prepared for a plot which twists and turns and scenes which will send shivers up and down your body as an out of control doctor is arrested and tried for a series of gruesome murders, only to be let go due a technicality. Then years later when it appears as though Dr. Vincent Cardoni is long dead, the police find evidence of bodies murdered in the same manner but this time the doctor's ex-wife Justine Castle is found guilty.
Added to this roller coaster ride of a book, is a young laywer employed by her father's legal firm who not only represents the good doctor but also his wife. And while I won't say anything more I would love to see Mr. Margolin write another book with some of these same characters.
Wild Justice is a wonderful thriller which can easily take its place among the novels written by both James Patterson and Jonathan Kellerman among other noted writers of this genre. I only hope it doesn't take Mr. Margolin too long to write his next book because until then, I'll be waiting.
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on September 13, 2000
Format: Hardcover
Several years ago, Phillip Margolin wrote what I consider to be one of the cleverest and most exciting thriller/mysteries I have ever read. Ever since then, Mr Margolin has attempted to match that early success; in his latest, the jacket even states that Wild Justice is a "return to the haunting terrain of Gone But Not Forgotten." Unfortunately, though Wild Justice is a decent thriller, it is no Gone But Not Forgotten. It is not as well-written, the characters are shallow caricatures, and, perhaps worst of all, the killer becomes pretty obvious about half way through. Mr. Margolin is so intent on throwing red herrings at us that he makes figuring out the real villain quite easy. Having said all that, the book is a quick read and does contain some exciting moments, but simply not enough of them. I had high hopes for Wild Justice and will continue to read Mr. Margolin's future books in hopes that he can recapture what he once had. But I suggest that those in search of a good mystery put this book down and go find a copy of Gone But Not Forgotten.
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17 of 19 people found the following review helpful By Roz Levine on September 4, 2000
Format: Hardcover
Detective Bobby Vasquez receives an anonymous tip that a major cocaine deal is about to go down in a secluded mountain cabin. Without warrants or backup he breaks into the cabin and instead of discovering cocaine, discovers two severed heads in the refrigerator of a basement operating room. There is also a bloody scalpel and a half full coffee mug sitting on the counter, both with fingerprints. After calling in reinforcements, the police find a mass grave with nine corpses. All have obviously been tortured and some are missing vital organs. All evidence points to Dr Vincent Cardoni, an unsympathetic, cocaine addicted surgeon with a bad temper. He promptly hires Frank Jaffe and his daughter, Amanda to handle his defense, stating he was framed by his wife. Even though the evidence is overwhelming, the Jaffes get him off on a technicality. He promptly disappears, leaving his severed hand behind. Considered dead, the police close the case. Fast forward four years. Another killing field is found at another secluded cabin with evidence almost identical to the first, including bloody scalpel and mug of coffee. Only this time, all evidence points to Dr Cardoni's ex-wife, surgeon Justine Castle. She immediately calls the Jaffes to defend her and this time their investigation leads to a roller coaster of a ride, to the stunning conclusion of this novel. Wild Justice has it all...great, believable characters, tight plot, compelling mystery and enough twists and turns to keep you off balance and guessing to the very last page. This is a fast paced, page turner you won't be able to put down and will have to read in one sitting. And when you're through with this book, just thinking about it will keep you up all night. Phillip Margolin is back and better than ever. One of the best books I've read all year. Wild Justice is definately headed for all the best sellers lists.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Doug Vaughn HALL OF FAME on September 9, 2000
Format: Hardcover
Maybe my judgement of this book was affected by my growing lack of patience for books about doctors and lawyers, but I felt that it was much more artificial in plot and character than I would have expected from Phillip Margolin. Almost from the first page one senses a kind of stiffness in the dialogue and shallowness in the presentation of character that might more reasonably be expected from an inexperienced writer. And what really kills any enjoyment a reader may have in the story is the absolute predictablility of the outcome. The author's deliberate misdirection in trying to set up a villain straw man so that readers don't realize who the murderer really is, is painfully obvious, and doesn't work. Neither does the book.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By John R. Linnell on November 7, 2000
Format: Hardcover
It has seemed like a long time since Phillip Margolin wrote his last novel and when you like this writer as much as I do, two years IS a long time. But,the wait has been worth it. Others here have detailed the nuance of the story and the characters therein and they have done it quite well. If you like fast paced action, if you like a good mystery, if you like grown up writing, if you are looking for a real page turner, look no further. This one is for you.
And,if it is another two years before we hear from this author again, I won't complain. He clearly waits until he has something he can be proud to put his name on, unlike some of the other prolific and popular writers we have seen of late.
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