The burning man / Phillip Margolin.
LJ Reviews 1996 May
A hotshot young lawyer who has disgraced himself ends up defending a retarded man accused of murder. From the best-selling author of Gone, but Not Forgotten (LJ 8/93). Copyright 1998 Library Journal Reviews
LJ Reviews 1996 September
Playing off the spookiness of recent recovered memory trials, Margolin, in his fifth thriller (e.g., After Dark, LJ 3/15/95), layers the good, the bad, and the ugly of lawyering into a crackling tale of redemption for two young men. The tale is set in Eastern Oregon, where a mildly retarded man is charged with the brutal slaying of a young woman. His lawyer, having never tried a capital crime case before, fumbles badly, but a glimmer of native wit gets him back on track. Working the genre with a discipline some popular authors have begun to ignore, Margolin relies on a few crafty stereotypes to keep up the pace and simplify the action. The dialogs in the jailhouse and the interrogation scenes, though, are intense and fierce. The moral zigzags of desperate people are laid out to contrast with the lawyer and his client as they feint and weave to avoid the ultimate penalty. This is a can't-go-wrong choice for popular collections. Barbara Conaty, Library of Congress Copyright 1998 Library Journal Reviews
PW Reviews 1996 July #4
Unlike the protagonists of Gone, But Not Forgotten and After Dark, the hero of Margolin's latest legal thriller is male. But the intricate plotting and warp-speed suspense that drove those earlier novels up the bestsellers lists are here in force. With his father, a high-powered Portland, Ore., attorney, in the hospital, young and arrogant Peter Hale recklessly takes over and then fumbles a case that costs a badly crippled woman her only chance for medical care. Enraged, Peter's father disowns his son, banishing him, for one last chance, to the backwoods practice of an alcoholic public defender. Peter reluctantly agrees, but it soon becomes evident that he still has a lot to learn about humility. In Oregon, Peter gets involved with the case of Gary Harmon, the mentally retarded brother-in-law of Peter's former law school classmate Steve Mancini. Gary, who's accused of murdering a college co-ed, is also the prime suspect in a series of similar killings. Although Peter is totally without experience in a capital murder case, the ego-driven young attorney is seduced by the opportunity to redeem himself when Mancini convinces him he can become a star if he takes the case and wins. When Mancini reveals himself to be a wife-beater given to sudden rages, the atmosphere thickens as his wife?the accused's sister?turns to Peter for comfort. Complications pile up with an undercover investigation of a campus cocaine ring, and a shady, fly-by-night real estate venture. As usual, Margolin's prose is workaday and his characters boilerplate, but the man knows how to tell a legal thriller that will remind readers of the best of Erle Stanley Gardner. 150,000 first printing; Literary Guild Main Selection, Doubleday Book Club featured alternate; Reader's Digest Condensed Book; author tour. (Sept.) Copyright 1996 Cahners Business Information.
PW Reviews 1997 June #2
A fatally ambitious lawyer, a brutal murder and high-stakes adultery are just a few of the ingredients in this legal thriller PW noted for its "intricate plotting and warp-speed suspense." (July) Copyright 1998 Publishers Weekly Reviews