The Darkest Place – Phillip Margolin

Profit, Oregon Police officer Marjorie Loman hurries to answer the front door, only to find two detectives waiting to advise her of her estranged husband, Joel’s death. Startled into laughter, she explains to the astonished detectives how her husband had stolen all of the money from their personal accounts as well as embezzled from his company while taking up with another woman. Shortly thereafter, she receives a visit from two men, claiming that Joel owed them money – they now expect to collect from her.  Fearing for her life, Marjorie uses an assumed name and leaves town. 

Newly engaged Attorney Robin Lockwood is admiring her new engagement ring, just bestowed upon her by boyfriend, investigator Jeff Hodges, when the phone rings. It’s Judge Wright, asking Robin if she will consider providing representation to a very reviled rapist, who allegedly left his victim with brain damage. Reluctantly she agrees. The prosecuting attorney has an airtight case, so Robin hopes to negotiate a plea deal and be done with him. But someone else has other plans and the sentencing goes horribly wrong. 

Needing solace, Robin leaves Oregon and heads home to Elk Grove, a quiet midwestern town, where she spends some much-needed downtime re-connecting with her family. Nearby, a family is awaiting a surrogate named Ruth to give birth to their long-awaited child. An error in hospital protocol leaves the infant to bond with the surrogate post-birth, leaving Ruth desperate enough to do anything to get the child back that she believes is rightly hers – including kidnapping. 

After Ruth’s apprehension and arrest, Robin is invited to join her defense team in Elk Grove. Intrigued by the case, Robin agrees to assist – they also learn that Ruth has another name – that of Marjorie Loman – and that she has a murder charge pending back home in Portland. As Robin and her new colleague work to suppress the release of Marjorie’s other pending charge, and establish a credible defense, Robin finds herself drawn in by the woman’s sadness, and ultimately agrees to lead her defense on murder charges, upon return to Oregon.  But she can’t help but wonder – is she defending a victim of circumstance, or is Marjorie playing a much bigger game? 

This was my second novel featuring Robin Lockwood and I found it every bit as good, if not better than the first! Robin is a spunky, first-rate attorney and her innovative courtroom strategies as well as her personal experiences keep the reader well immersed in the storyline. Throughout the book, I struggled with Marjorie’s innocence or guilt, and most definitely cheered at the unexpected, but very satisfying ending. Well worth the hours of sleep I lost reading this one cover to cover! If you love Scottoline, O’Shaughnessy & Grisham, be sure to add Margolin to the list!