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The Last Innocent Man

The Last Innocent Man

3.4 10
by Phillip Margolin, Christopher Lane (Read by)

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The papers call him the Ice Man. David Nash, defense attorney — cool, unruffled, practically unbeatable in the courtroom. Most of his clients are guilty. A few may be monsters.

Suddenly the Ice Man is assailed by doubts and unanswerable questions. What is the cost of each victory, each rapist or murderer set free — to society and to Nash's soul?


The papers call him the Ice Man. David Nash, defense attorney — cool, unruffled, practically unbeatable in the courtroom. Most of his clients are guilty. A few may be monsters.

Suddenly the Ice Man is assailed by doubts and unanswerable questions. What is the cost of each victory, each rapist or murderer set free — to society and to Nash's soul?

Then comes a case that may be Nash's redemption. A client whose innocence he can believe in, a rising lawyer and family man accused of the brual murder of an undercover vice cop. But as the case moves toward trial, new doubts grip him: What is truth and what is carefully fabricated falsehood? Is Nash, a a master at handling juries, being manipulated himself? And by whom? By the time Nash's perfect case is finished, the questions become a matter of life and death.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Margolin's second novel, originally published in 1981, finds defense attorney David Nash having qualms about his profession. He's helped free a famous novelist, Thomas Gault, whom he later suspects may actually have beaten his wife to death. And he's discovered that his new client, whom he'd believed innocent of killing a policewoman, lied to him about his alibi. Margolin's smooth prose and Christopher Lane's versatile narration easily shake loose whatever dust may have settled on the book. Lane's voice suggests education and class; it's a natural fit for a successful attorney like Nash. But with only a slight supercilious edge, it's just as appropriate for the sardonic novelist Gault. Lane toughens up for a private eye in Nash's employ and even finds the precise flat, slurred vocal for a stoned teenage girl who's a witness for the prosecution. A Harper hardcover. (Dec.)

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Brilliance Audio
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6.60(w) x 6.50(h) x 1.00(d)

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Read an Excerpt

The Last Innocent Man

Chapter One

David Nash could see the storm clouds closing in on Portland from his office on the thirty-second floor of the First National Bank Tower. The rain would be a welcome relief from the June heat. The first large drops started falling on the river. David watched for a while, then turned his back to the window. Across the room Thomas Gault shifted his position on the couch.

The newspapers called David "The Ice Man" because of his unruffled appearance in court, but Gault deserved the title. It was almost eight o'clock. The jury had been deliberating for two days. But Gault dozed, oblivious to the fact that twelve people were deciding whether he should be convicted of murder.

The telephone rang and startled David. Gault opened his eyes. The phone rang again and David answered it. His heart was beating rapidly as he raised the receiver. His hand felt sweaty against the plastic.

"Mr. Nash," Judge Mcintyre's bailiff said, "we have a verdict."

David took a breath to calm himself. His mouth was dry. It was always the same, no matter how many times he heard those words. They were so final, and despite his record of victories, they always left him with a feeling of despair.

"I'll be right over," David said, replacing the receiver. (Gault was sitting up and stretching.

"Moment of truth, old buddy?" he asked as he yawned. He seemed to he experiencing none of the tension that David felt.

"Moment of truth," David repeated.

"Let's go get 'em, then. And don't forget how you're feeling. I want to interview you as soon as we hear the verdict. I talked to my editor this afternoon, and he's hot to get the book into print as fast as he can. Capitalize on the publicity."

David shook his head in amazement.

"How can you even think about that book now, Tom?

Gault laughed.

"With what you're charging me, I have to think about it. Besides, I want to make you famous."

"Doesn't anything ever get to you?" David asked.

Gault studied David for a second, his grin momentarily gone, his eyes cold.

"Not a thing, old buddy. Not a thing.

"Besides," he said, the grin hack in place, "I've been through a hell of a lot worse than this in Africa. Remember, those twelve peers of mine can't kill me. Worse comes to worst, I get a few years off to write at state expense. And the worst ain't gonna come, old buddy, because I have faith in you.

Gault's smile was infectious, and despite his misgivings, David found he was smiling.

"Okay, Tom, then let's go get 'em."

Outside, the rain and wind were twisting the large American flag that hung from the building across the street, winding it around itself and whipping it to and fro. One of America's symbols taking a beating, David mused. If he was the lawyer everyone said he was, the blind woman with the scales would also go down for the count when they arrived at the courthouse.

If David had not been famous already, the Gault case would have made him so. Reporters from Paris and Moscow had flown into Portland to cover the trial of the handsome defendant who looked like a movie star and wrote like Joseph Conrad.

At nineteen, Gault, a member of a violent L.A. gang, had been given a choice between jail or the Army. Gault loved the military and was a natural for Special Forces training.

At twenty-six, Gault turned mercenary, putting his skills to work in East and West Africa.

All during his years abroad, Gault had been indulging another passion, writing. Plotted and fleshed out during his African sojourn, and completed during six months of furious activity in a cheap apartment in Manhattan, Plains of Anguish made Gault rich and established him as a writer of note. The novels that followed increased his literary reputation. But they were not the only reason Gault's name was newsworthy.

Shortly after the movie version of his second novel was released, Gault married his leading lady. The gossip columns were suddenly full of stories about Gault's latest affair or drunken brawl. When Gault drove his Rolls-Royce through the bedroom wall of his wife's lover's beach house, the missus called it quits. Gault, fed up with Hollywood, headed for the quiet of the Pacific Northwest.

A year later Gault emerged from seclusion, carrying the manuscript for A Ransom for the Dying, which won the Pulitzer Prize. While working on the book, he had met Julie Webster, whom he was presently accused of beating to death.

Julie Webster Gault, the daughter of a former secretary of commerce, was beautiful, spoiled, and rich. To her parents' horror, she married Thomas Gault after a brief courtship that consisted of several violent couplings in various odd places and positions. The marriage was doomed from the beginning.

Julie Webster was incapable of loving anyone but herself, and Thomas Gault was similarly afflicted. By the time the novelty of working their way through the Kama Sutra wore off, the couple realized that they could not stand each other. Gault's drinking, which was excessive in the best of times, got worse. Julie started wearing high-neck sweaters and sunglasses to cover her bruises. Then, one evening, someone beat Julie Gault to death in her bedroom on the second floor of their lakeside mansion.

The police arrested Gault. He swore that he was innocent. He told them he had been sleeping off a drunk when screams from his wife's bedroom awakened him. He said he found Julie lying in a pool of blood and had knelt to take a pulse ...

The Last Innocent Man. Copyright © by Phillip Margolin. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.

Meet the Author

Phillip Margolin has written nineteen novels, many of them New York Times bestsellers, including his latest novels Woman with a Gun, Worthy Brown’s Daughter, Sleight of Hand, and the Washington trilogy. Each displays a unique, compelling insider’s 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.

Brief Biography

Place of Birth:
New York, New York
B.A. in Government, American University, 1965; New York University School of Law, 1970

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The Last Innocent Man 3.4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 10 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Characters are very good...in true Margolin form, but this book is all in the ending. If you pay close attention to the detail you get a idea 'who done it!' I prefer a little more substance up front like in some of his other books.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book was again very well written! It grabs your attention at the start and holds on till the very last page. It keeps you guessing again
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Really good story but not his best i have read
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keeper75 More than 1 year ago
Interesting story, good writing. If you like this type of story you should like this.
TEST NOOKUSER More than 1 year ago