Synopses & Reviews
Author Miles Van Meter is on a book tour to promote his sensational bestseller Sleeping Beauty, a true-crime account of a deeply personal subject: the attack by a serial killer that left his twin sister, Casey, in a coma. Tonight the audience waits to hear Miles discuss recent developments in his sister's case -- unaware that pieces of this complex puzzle of violence, unknown even to the author, are about to be revealed.
Six years earlier, life was much simpler for everyone involved, especially seventeen-year-old Ashley Spencer, a popular high school soccer star. Then one night an intruder entered Ashley's home and murdered her father and her best friend. Traumatized and suffering from a crippling sense of survivor guilt, Ashley is ready to give up on both soccer and life until help comes from an unexpected source -- a scholarship to the Oregon Academy, an elite private school, is extended to her by school dean Casey Van Meter. The school quickly becomes a haven for both Ashley and her mother, Terri. As Ashley regains her sense of self through the school's soccer program, Terri joins a writing group for adults led by Joshua Maxfield, a former literary wunderkind who has disappeared from the bestseller lists since his second book was panned by both critics and fans.
Then tragedy strikes again and Ashley has to run for her life, unaware that the key to her survival is in the one book she's afraid to read -- Sleeping Beauty.
With its blend of dizzying plot twists and thrilling suspense, Sleeping Beauty shows Phillip Margolin at the very top of his form.
"The criminal at the heart of bestseller Margolin's unsatisfying 10th thriller is particularly heinous. Late one night in Portland, Ore., he assaults teenager Ashley Spencer, rapes and kills Ashley's friend Tanya, a sleepover guest, and stabs Ashley's father to death. Ashley miraculously escapes, but her brush with terror is far from over. A few months later, just as she and her mother, Terri (out of town on the night of the attack), are beginning to re-engage with the world, the killer strikes again, murdering Terri and leaving another woman, Casey Van Meter, in a coma on the grounds of Ashley's new school, the exclusive Oregon Academy. Ashley doesn't witness the crime, but she sees Joshua Maxfield, the school's writer-in-residence, at the scene, clutching a bloody knife. Wondering why her quiet, loving family has been targeted by this madman, she goes into hiding in Europe, returning to Portland years later to bear witness when Maxfield is finally apprehended and tried. But is he guilty? And what was the motive for this crime spree? The search for answers generates a modicum of suspense, but the book never really commands much interest, thanks to clumsy plotting and even clumsier prose. Much of the story is revealed in flashbacks, framed by scenes from a reading in a Seattle bookstore given by Casey's twin brother, Miles Van Meter, who has written a bestselling true-crime book about the case and his comatose sister (and yes, it's as contrived as it sounds). Margolin (The Ties That Bind, etc.) has imagined a particularly lurid and sensational crime, but he fails to realize virtually any of its inherent dramatic potential. (Apr. 2) Forecast: The publisher is making a big promotional push, including a 14-city author tour, that should ensure placement on bestseller lists." Publishers Weekly (Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"The twists and turns of the plot keep the suspense ratcheted up to an excruciating level....Margolin has created another sure winner....This is for jaded readers who believe that there is nothing new and fresh in the mystery field." Library Journal (Starred Review)
"A pulse-lowering thriller about writers who write about what they know....Flimsy plotting, thin characters, hoary cliches, grade-school prose: a 'by the numbers' thriller." Kirkus Reviews
"Margolin knows how to put together a high-concept thriller, piling plot twist upon plot twist and keeping the narrative pounding ever forward....This time he pulls off a genuinely surprising ending, too..." Mary Frances Wilkens, Booklist
"Clever and diabolical....A must for suspense fans." BookPage (winner of the Mystery of the Month and Tip of the Ice Pick Award)
"Phillip Margolin knows how to pack in the thrills....Sleeping Beauty will keep you guessing until its shocking end." Tess Gerritsen, author of The Sinner
"Sleeping Beauty will keep you awake all night. Phillip Margolin has done it again!" Harlan Coben, author of No Second Chance
"Phillip Margolin [is] one of those rare authors who can create a genuinely surprising ending." Lisa Scottoline, author of Killer Smile
"Phillip Margolin plays delicious tricks on his readers, dashing expectations, twisting the knife deeper, making the suspense really hurt." Perri O'Shaughnessy, author of Presumption of Death
About the Author
Phillip Margolin has written sixteen New York Times bestsellers, including his latest novels, Capitol Murder and Supreme Justice. Each displays a unique, compelling insider's view of criminal behavior, which comes from his long career as a criminal defense attorney who has handled thirty murder cases. Winner of the Distinguished Northwest Writer Award, Margolin lives in Portland, Oregon.