Wild Justice

Phillip Margolin, Author HarperCollins Publishers $26 (362p) ISBN 978-0-06-019624-0
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. (Aug.)
Reviewed on: 07/31/2000
Release date: 09/01/2000
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