cover image Violent Crimes

Violent Crimes

Phillip Margolin. Harper, $26.99 (304p) ISBN 978-0-06-226655-2

In bestseller Margolin’s subpar fifth Amanda Jaffe novel (after 2009’s Fugitive), the Portland, Ore., DA decides to defend paralegal Tom Beatty, a veteran with PTSD, after he becomes the prime suspect in the murder of his boss, Christine Larson, whose battered body turned up in Beatty’s bedroom. Then Dale Masterson, a senior partner at the prestigious law firm where Larson worked, is found dead in his home. This time, the assailant appears obvious: Masterson’s 26-year-old son, Brandon, was seen running from his father’s house, covered in blood. After Brandon’s mother approaches Jaffe, she agrees to represent Brandon, an outspoken environmental activist who claims he killed his father to send a message to Big Oil. Unsettling connections between the Masterson and Larson murders put Jaffe in an ethical pickle as she tries to help both her clients without harming the other’s case. Sympathetic characters compensate only in part for an overly complicated plot. [em]Agents: Jean Naggar and Jennifer Weltz, Jean V. Naggar Literary Agency. (Feb.) [/em]