Murder at Black Oaks by Phillip Margolin
In Phillip Margolin’s Murder at Black Oaks, Attorney Robin Lockwood finds herself at an isolated retreat in the Oregon mountains, one with a tragic past and a legendary curse, and surrounded by many suspects and confronted with an impossible crime.
Defense Attorney Robin Lockwood is summoned by retired District Attorney Francis Hardy to meet with him at Black Oaks, the manor he owns up in the Oregon mountains. The manor has an interesting history – originally built in 1628 in England, there’s a murderous legend and curse attached to the mansion. Hardy, however, wants Lockwood’s help in a legal matter – righting a wrongful conviction from his days as a DA. A young man, Jose Alvarez, was convicted of murdering his girlfriend only for Hardy, years later when in private practice, to have a client of his admit to the murder and to framing the man Hardy convicted. Unable to reveal what he knew due to attorney client confidence, Hardy now wants Lockwood’s help in getting that conviction overturned.
Successful in their efforts, Hardy invites Lockwood up to Black Oaks for a celebration. Lockwood finds herself among an odd group of invitees – including the bitter, newly released, Alvarez. When Hardy is found murdered, with a knife connected to the original curse, Lockwood finds herself faced with a conundrum – who is the murder among them and how to stop them before there’s another victim.
Attorney/client privilege is a cornerstone of American jurisprudence. In the course of defending his client, a young district attorney learns of the other attorney’s inability to disclose certain facts in a case. The result is the client being sent to death row for a crime the young man did not commit. Jose Alvarez spends over thirty years on death row- an innocent man.
Robin Lockwood is contacted 30 years later to help salve the conscience of the then much older district attorney. He resides at Black Oaks Manor, a desolate mansion in an even more desolate region of Oregon. Black Oaks Manor is at the end of a remote location often unable to be reached by land vehicle. Jose is now released because papers have surfaced that proved he could not have killed the man he was sentenced to death for.
The story’s plot is further complicated by a faulty elevator and washed-out roads. The washed-out roads strand Robin and her associate while deaths continue at Black Oaks. Who is responsible for these untimely deaths?
Throughout the novel’s plot line, the story leads to false trails and impossible outcomes. I found myself flummoxed by the possibilities and recognized my personal inability to discover the truth.
This novel harkens back to some of the older great mystery writers. As the body count mounted, I found myself on quicksand trying to ferret out the culprit. Usually, a concrete motive for the killings and an obvious villain begin to surface as the novel proceeds. This is not the case with this novel. Facts are not presented until the end which exposes the killer. However, I still found myself in disbelief as to the capacity of the killer to be responsible for the crime.
I suggest you read the book and see if you reach another conclusion. I have read many of Phillip Margolin’s books and this is one of his slippery best. Enjoy! 4 stars – CE Williams
We’ve read several previous Robin Lockwood series novels, most recently The Darkest Place and A Matter of Life and Death, and in 2020 A Reasonable Doubt, and enjoyed them all, although more so the former. Many thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for providing me with the opportunity to read and review this book.
Rosepoint Publishing: Four Stars
Genre: Legal Thrillers, Crime Thrillers, Women Sleuths
Publisher: Minotaur Books
Print Length: 288 pages
Publication Date: November 8, 2022
Source: Publisher and NetGalley
Title Link: Murder at Black Oaks [Amazon]
Barnes & Noble
The Author: PHILLIP MARGOLIN has written over twenty novels, most of them New York Times bestsellers, including Gone But Not Forgotten, Lost Lake, and Violent Crimes. In addition to being a novelist, he was a long time criminal defense attorney with decades of trial experience, including a large number of capital cases. Margolin lives in Portland, Oregon.
[Read more about Mr. Margolin on his website.]
©2022 CE Williams – V Williams