Book review: The Perfect Alibi by Phillip Margolin

Saturday, March 2, 2019 Permalink

I hadn’t read any books by Phillip Margolin for a long time though I was once a regular reader. I’ve got a couple of his books on my bookshelf (right next to Steve Martini) which is quite apt because both write legal procedurals and although it’s a (sub) genre I enjoy, it’s one I read far too little of nowadays.

Book review: The Perfect Alibi by Phillip MargolinThe Perfect Alibi
by Phillip Margolin
Series: Robin Lockwood #2
Published by Minotaur Books
on March 5th 2019
Source: NetGalley
Genres: Crime Fiction, Legal Procedural
ISBN: 1250117526, 9781250117526
Pages: 320

A young woman accuses a prominent local college athlete of rape. Convicted with the help of undisputable DNA evidence, the athlete swears his innocence and threatens both his lawyer and his accuser as he's sent to prison. Not long after, there's another rape and the DNA test shows that the same person committed both rapes--which is seemingly impossible since the man convicted of the first rape was in prison at the time of the second one. Now, the convicted athlete, joined by a new lawyer, is granted a new trial and bail. Shortly thereafter, his original lawyer disappears and his law partner is murdered.

Robin Lockwood is a young lawyer with a prestigious small law firm and a former MMA fighter who helped pay for Yale Law School with her bouts. She is representing the victim of the first rape for her civil lawsuit against her rapist, who is now convinced the rapist is stalking her and trying to intimidate her. At the same time, another client is up on a murder charge--one that should be dismissed as self-defense--but the D.A. trying the case is determined to bring it to trial. Now she has to mastermind two impossible cases, trying to find the hidden truth that links the two of them.

Apparently this is the second time readers have met Robin Lockwood, a (MMA) fighter turned lawyer and her personal story arc gets a bit of a nudge this time around, progressing something I gather started in the first book of the series.

I liked Robin and though we meet her investigator colleague (potential love interest Jeff) we don’t really get to know him or law partner Mark much and I wonder if they got more airtime in the first outing or will in future novels.

Robin tackles a number of cases in this book and though a couple of interrelated another one or two are tangentially intertwined only. Kinda. And then there’s another in the background regarding a pharmaceutical company which didn’t seem relevant for most of the novel (and was perhaps introduced a little clumsily as I kept wondering if I’d missed something) but comes into play eventually.

At the heart of this novel is the alleged rape of a young woman. The guy in question is seriously a douchebag so there’s little sympathy for him and he does little to help his cause. Thankfully the whole ‘he said / she said’ thing does’t get down to cliched name-calling and the like, but we move on quickly to another case which could disrupt the findings of the first case. (And Margolin delves into questions about DNA and probalistic genotyping: the advent of new technology and our reliance on it vs good ol’ gut-instinct and clue-finding.)

The somewhat unrelated case sees Robin defend a man who’s charged with killing a police officer and it’s through that case we get some insight into the District Attorney who (and I know it’s a cliche) will ‘stop at nothing’ to win his cases.

It felt a bit slow getting the next bit but things really get interesting about two-thirds of the way through because the original rapist’s lawyer’s colleague gets murdered (and yes, I know that’s confusing) but – this is where things become both murky and startlingly clear. All at the same time. Another murder or two later and Margolin has introduced a goodly number of red herrings and there’s a late twist or two to keep us guessing.

I really liked the greyness of his characters here. Even Robin – who we know is above reproach – struggles with justice and right vs wrong. And there are other characters, we’ve come to know and love who may (or may not) be who we want them to be.

I mentioned the confusing big ‘pharma’ case which lumbers onto the page (introducing a whole stack of new characters en-masse) but there’s also a little head-hoping in some parts and I wasn’t sure if sex scenes are usually in Margolin’s bailiwick as a few phrases / scenes felt a little uncomfortable.

However ultimately this shaped up into something really complex and intriguing. As I said I don’t read as many legal thrillers / procedurals as I did a couple of decades ago so I appreciate them all the more when they appear magically in my reading pile.

The Perfect Alibi by Phillip Margolin will be published in March 2019 by Minotaur Books (Macmillan Publishers).

I received an electronic copy of this book from the publisher for review purposes. 



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