cover image A Reasonable Doubt

A Reasonable Doubt

Phillip Margolin. Minotaur, $27.99 (304p) ISBN 978-1-250-11754-0

In the teasing prologue of bestseller Margolin’s convoluted third novel featuring attorney Robin Lockwood (after 2019’s The Perfect Alibi), Lockwood attends the debut of her magician client Robert Chesterfield’s “greatest illusion,” the Chamber of Death, which involves a locked coffin, at a Portland, Ore., theater. Three years earlier, Lockwood attended a dress rehearsal of the act, which “ended in a truly bizarre manner,” at Chesterfield’s seaside manor. This time, things also don’t go as planned, as screams emerging from the coffin are followed by the discovery of a male corpse, leaving Robin to wonder how murder was committed before 3,000 witnesses. Flash back to 2017, when Chesterfield seeks to hire her to patent the Chamber of Death, which she eventually agrees to do, despite having no experience with intellectual property. Another flashback, to 1997, shows that Lockwood was once suspected of a fatal poisoning. By the time the action returns to the present, the impact of the opening has been greatly diluted. Readers interested in whodunits set in the world of magic would be better served by Clayton Rawson’s classic Merlini novels. [em]100,000-copy announced first printing. Agent: Jennifer Weltz, Jean V. Naggar Literary. (Mar.) [/em]