cover image Murder at Black Oaks: A Robin Lockwood Novel

Murder at Black Oaks: A Robin Lockwood Novel

Phillip Margolin. Minotaur, $27.99 (288p) ISBN 978-1-250-25846-5

Margolin’s enjoyable sixth novel featuring Portland, Ore., defense attorney Robin Lockwood (after The Darkest Place) effectively merges a legal thriller with an impossible crime. Frank Melville retired from practicing law after securing an acquittal for Archie Stallings, a client accused of date rape, in 1997. Stallings had previously been Melville’s prime witness in his successful prosecution in 1990 of Jose Alvarez for bludgeoning to death a fellow college student, Margo Prescott. After the acquittal, Stallings shocked Melville by confessing to both the rape and to killing Prescott, relying on attorney-client privilege to remain at liberty for the homicide. Now, after Stallings’s death from a heart attack, Melville calls Robin to Black Oaks, his isolated mansion in the Oregon hills, in the hope she can find a way around the privilege to exonerate Alvarez, who’s been on death row for decades. Robin’s visit to Black Oaks is complicated by a stabbing murder inside a locked elevator in the mansion. A curse attached to the mansion adds to the intrigue. Both the solution to Melville’s dilemma and the one to the locked-room murder are convincing. John Dickson Carr fans will be pleased. Agent: Jennifer Weltz, Jean V. Naggar Literary. (Nov.)