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Worthy Brown's Daughter Hardcover – January 21, 2014


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Harper; First Edition edition (January 21, 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0062195344
  • ISBN-13: 978-0062195340
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1.1 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 6.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (126 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #373,854 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Based loosely on true events, the latest legal thriller from criminal defense attorney turned bestseller Margolin (Lost Lake) follows Matthew Penny, a pistol-bearing lawyer guided by his own moral compass. Portland, Ore., in the 1860s is a nest of conflict: property lawsuits stall the inevitable construction of a railroad, and a black man on trial expects a racist jury. Here, the innocent is Worthy Brown, a freed black man who asks Matthew to rescue his daughter, Roxanne, from Caleb Barbour, a crooked lawyer who illegally holds her in servitude. When Worthy is discovered standing over Caleb's dead body, and only he and Matthew know the truth, justice seems unlikely. Around this central drama, Margolin establishes characters that might have stepped out of a grainy Western, among them the evil siren Sharon Hill—a full-figured woman whose oval face was framed by ebony ringlets that were in sharp contrast to her milk-white complexion. Margolin allows passions to sway his heroes, and generates empathy toward his crooks. If only the black characters worshipped their white benefactors less, or if one female character was spared a derogatory physical description. The plot is at times frustratingly one-dimensional, but Matthew is ultimately forced to distinguish truth from justice. On the courtroom floor, where Margolin is clearly at home, the stock characters adopt roles, albeit briefly, in a satisfying, white-knuckle climax. (Feb.)

From Booklist

Margolin, author of 17 popular legal thrillers, pens a historical novel set in 1850s Portland, Oregon, based on an actual legal suit brought by a black family against a white slave owner. Free man Worthy Brown sues his former master for his daughter’s freedom. Out of sheer spite and wicked lust, Caleb Barbour refuses to release 15-year-old Roxanne to her father, despite Oregon’s law against slavery. Worthy hires down-on-his-luck lawyer Matthew Penny to bring a legal custody suit, though circumstances conspire against them. Throw in a money-grubbing beauty, a smitten judge, a few loudmouth hotheads, and at least two legal beagles willing to bend the law, and the Old West comes alive in heart-wrenching, violent, and wicked racist color. The plot is comfortably predictable, with a last-minute save by our brilliant hero, yet legal thriller and western fans will stay with it to the last page. Both a psychological western reminiscent of The Ox-Bow Incident and a sharp critique of Oregon’s early legal process, Margolin’s novel offers a compelling portrait of small town justice done right—eventually. --Jen Baker

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

This is involving historical fiction.
William Dietrich
I would highly recommend this book. it was well written and a book that will keep your interest from beginning to end.
Kindle Customer
My only problem with this book is that many of the characters felt a little too good or bad.
Darcia Helle

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

27 of 29 people found the following review helpful By Aaron C. Brown TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on August 28, 2013
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Let's start off with two easy points. If you're a Philip Margolin fan, and I know there are many, this book delivers the goods. It's not up there with his best early work, like Gone, But Not Forgotten and After Dark, but it's got more freshness and energy than most of his stuff from the last five years.

On the other hand, if you want a historical novel, you can give this one a miss without second thoughts. The characters and situations are thoroughly modern, without even a half-hearted attempt to embed them in 1860 Oregon. The few bits of research are paraded obviously ("there were no courthouses in Oregon in 1860","the population of San Francisco in 1860 was 56,802") and anachronisms abound. The period is an uneasy conglomeration of the somewhat earlier Illinois circuit court environment of Young Mr. Lincoln with the later brawling frontier world shown in Deadwood, or perhaps the Western justice illustrated in Have Gun Will Travel. On top of that, this is a legal thriller, not a novel. There is no character development or realistic dialog. Every expression and emotion is laboriously explained to the reader. There is no sense of place or atmosphere, descriptions are superficial and clichéd.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By michael a. draper VINE VOICE on December 4, 2014
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Phillip Margolin is one of those special authors who, when a reader picks up their book, they know they are in for an entertaining experience.

I was sent this book from Amazon vine, in return for my review and I couldn't be happier that I picked this book.

The time is 1860 and Oregon is really beginning to grow. Matthew Penny and his wife decide to move west from Ohio and travel by wagon train. However, Matthew losses his wife when a wagon is swept down a river crossing.

With this burden behind him, he moves to Phoenix, Oregon where he's appointed to defend a man accused of theft. He doesn't win the case but does a fine job with the man's defense. Later, another man approaches him and tells him that this man has information that Matthew can use to win another case he was preparing for. All this man wants is the promise from Matthew that if the information helps, Matthew would promise to return the favor. (For just a bit, it seems like the devil in Damn Yankees).

Matthew wins the new case and what the man wants is Matthew's help in getting his daughter who is being kept as a slave by a wealthy but unscrupulous man.

It's difficult not to give away plot but the story moves along swiftly. The characters are vividly drawn as is the setting of the early days of Portland, Oregon. We see such things as the first steam locomotive in that part of the country.

This is one of the best books I've read this year. My heart was beating faster and faster as I approached the conclusion that was both appropriate and satisfying.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Darcia Helle TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on October 13, 2013
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
With this story, Phillip Margolin takes a difficult time from our country's history and paints a vivid portrait. I could see this story playing out in the 'wild west' 150 years ago. The details are profoundly disturbing; not because Margolin overdoes it, but because he gets it just right. We're forced to take a hard look at prejudice of all sorts, as well as the (mis)treatment of women.

For readers who are longtime fans of Margolin's courtroom dramas, there is much of that here as well. This story takes place at the very beginning of courts and judges in the west, and we see the way the system worked and didn't work back then.

My only problem with this book is that many of the characters felt a little too good or bad. Few people are one way or the other in life. I wanted more depth and variation. Though I have to say that Matthew Penny's character was well done, if not a little predictable. I could feel his anguish as he struggled with the hardships of his life.

Overall, this is an interesting read and an important reminder of what we've left behind.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Israel Drazin TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on August 11, 2014
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
New York Times best-selling author Phillip Margolin is at his best in this new 2014 murder and court thriller, which contains four plots. The primary plot is based, as Margolin explains, on an actual case where a slave owner brought a family of slaves from a slave state to Oregon in the early 1800s, a state where any slave brought to the land became free. The slave owner allowed the parents and a child to leave, but kept several children as indentured servants. The parents were forced to go to court to save their children. In this novel, there is a father and daughter, Worthy and Roxanne, who face this problem just at the time when Abraham Lincoln is elected president of the United States and the country is about to become embroiled in a civil war over slavery. It is one year after Oregon became a state.

The second plot focuses on a young lawyer, Matthew Perry, who falls in love with the daughter of an extremely rich man and she with him. His wife had recently died and while he is in love with the young woman, he is still in love with his first wife and is still grieving. He represents Worthy in trying to free his daughter from the former slave owner Caleb Barbour.

Complicating the prior events is the murder of Barbour with Worthy being charged with the crime. Matthew Perry knows that Worthy did not commit the murder and who actually did so, but is unable to disclose this because of several obstacles he is unable to overcome.

While these events transpire, an attractive former prostitute decides to fake a marriage to the very wealthy man and kill him so she can inherit his fortune.

The four plots are filled with noteworthy events that occurred during the pre-civil war era out west and a host of fascinating characters.
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