Synopses & Reviews
Inspired by a true story, New York Times
bestselling author Phillip Margolin turns his hand to historical fiction in this masterful saga about justice in the American West.
Like thousands of other Americans in the nineteenth century, Matthew Penny, a young lawyer, believes that he and his wife, Rachel, can forge a better future out West. But after she drowns on the Oregon Trail, Matthew arrives on the frontier with nothing but shattered dreams. Unable to face the memories that await back home, he joins the handful of lawyers practicing in Portland, Oregon — which in 1860 is just a riverfront town in a state less than a year old.
Worthy Brown, a slave from Georgia, journeys west with his master, Caleb Barbour, who promises to reward Worthy and his daughter, Roxanne, with their freedom if they help him establish a homestead in Oregon. When Barbour reneges on his pledge, Worthy's hope for a fresh start with his child is destroyed.
In the hands of critically acclaimed thriller writer Phillip Margolin, the fates of these desperate men intertwine in a breathtaking narrative about the extent of evil and the high price of true justice. Matthew and Worthy decide to challenge Barbour in court, but events rapidly spiral out of their control and the stakes become higher than either of them could ever have imagined. And when Matthew, struggling to survive in the cutthroat, corrupt world of frontier law, crosses paths with Heather Gillette, the beautiful daughter of a wealthy Portland businessman, his grief-stricken existence is turned upside down, and suddenly he has everything to fight for.
Over two decades in the writing, Worthy Brown's Daughter is a compelling white-knuckle drama about two broken men risking everything for what they believe in. Powerfully evocative of time and place, woven through with rich historical detail, it charts new territory for Margolin — but its epic, deeply human scope is still defined by the suspense and energy his fans have come to expect from his books.
Based loosely on true events the latest legal thriller from criminal defense attorney turned bestseller Margolin (Lost Lake) follows Matthew Penny a pistol bearing lawyer guided by his own moral compass. Portland Ore. in the 1860s is a nest of conflict: property lawsuits stall the inevitable construction of a railroad and a black man on trial expects a racist jury. Here the innocent is Worthy Brown a freed black man who asks Matthew to rescue his daughter Roxanne from Caleb Barbour a crooked lawyer who illegally holds her in servitude. When Worthy is discovered standing over Caleb’s dead body and only he and Matthew know the truth justice seems unlikely. Around this central drama Margolin establishes characters that might have stepped out of a grainy Western among them the evil siren Sharon Hill—“a full figured woman whose oval face was framed by ebony ringlets that were in sharp contrast to her milk white complexion.” Margolin allows passions to sway his heroes and generates empathy toward his crooks. If only the black characters worshipped their white benefactors less or if one female character was spared a derogatory physical description. The plot is at times frustratingly one dimensional but Matthew is ultimately forced to distinguish truth from justice. On the courtroom floor where Margolin is clearly at home the stock characters adopt roles albeit briefly in a satisfying white knuckle climax. (Feb.)" Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved."
“Margolin...allows passions to sway his heroes, and generates empathy toward his crooks....[On] the courtroom floor, where Margolin is clearly at home, [there is] a satisfying, white-knuckle climax.” Publishers Weekly
“What intrigues here is the setting. Best-selling thriller author Margolin has forsaken the modern world for 19th-century Oregon...based on a real case, which should bring out the best in former criminal defense attorney Margolin.” Library Journal
“Margolin shines in recreating pioneer life...there's legal wrangling, murder and romance, set against the backdrop of race and frontier life...his scene-setting, knowledge of the frontier and relating of the hard task of the law make for an appealing read.” Kirkus Reviews
“The Old West comes alive in heart-wrenching, violent, and wicked racist color….Legal thriller and western fans will stay with it to the last page.…Margolin's novel offers a compelling portrait of small town justice done right.” Booklist
Known for his critically acclaimed contemporary thrillers, New York Times
bestselling author Phillip Margolin explores intriguing new territory in Worthy Brown's Daughter
, a compelling historical drama, set in nineteenth-century Oregon, that combines a heartbreaking story of slavery and murder with classic Margolin plot twists.
One of a handful of lawyers in the new state of Oregon, recently widowed Matthew Penny agrees to help Worthy Brown, a newly freed slave, rescue his fifteen year old daughter, Roxanne, from their former master, a powerful Portland lawyer. Worthy's lawsuit sets in motion events that lead to Worthy's arrest for murder and create an agonizing moral dilemma that could send either Worthy or Matthew to the hangman.
At the same time, hanging judge Jed Tyler, a powerful politician with a barren personal life, becomes infatuated with a beautiful gold-digger who is scheming to murder Benjamin Gillette, Oregon's wealthiest businessman. When Gillette appears to die from natural causes, Sharon Hill produces a forged contract of marriage and Tyler must decide if he will sacrifice his reputation to defend that of the woman who inspired his irrational obsession.
At Worthy's trial, Matthew saves Worthy by producing a stunning courtroom surprise and his attempt to stop the deadly fortune hunter ends in a violent climax.
About the Author
Phillip Margolin has written seventeen New York Times bestsellers, including his latest, Sleight of Hand, and the Washington Trilogy. Each displays a unique, compelling insiders view of criminal behavior, which comes from his long background as a criminal defense attorney who has handled thirty murder cases. Winner of the Distinguished Northwest Writer Award, he lives in Portland, Oregon.