Lost Lake

( 13 )


On a summer night in Portland, Oregon, violence erupts at a Little League game — and attorney Ami Vergano watches in horror as the quiet, gentle artist she recently befriended does the unexpected and unthinkable . . .

In a cheap motel room in Washington, D.C., Vanessa Kohler — ex-mental patient, supermarket tabloid reporter, and estranged daughter of a powerful general running for president — views a news broadcast of the bizarre incident and ...

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Lost Lake

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On a summer night in Portland, Oregon, violence erupts at a Little League game — and attorney Ami Vergano watches in horror as the quiet, gentle artist she recently befriended does the unexpected and unthinkable . . .

In a cheap motel room in Washington, D.C., Vanessa Kohler — ex-mental patient, supermarket tabloid reporter, and estranged daughter of a powerful general running for president — views a news broadcast of the bizarre incident and believes she's found the only witness to a deadly conspiracy.

Caught between a possible madwoman and a confessed mass murderer, between reality and delusion, Ami races to unearth the terrible truth about dark events that may or may never have happened twenty years earlier in a secluded cabin on Lost Lake.

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Editorial Reviews

Janet Maslin
“Lively ... the pacing is brisk, the plot cinematic.”
Janet Maslin in the New York Times
“Lively ... the pacing is brisk, the plot cinematic.”
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
“Frighteningly plausible...a page turner.”
“Delivers the goods, with plenty of action, suspense, and danger.”
Seattle Post-Intelligencer
“A powerhouse thriller...a relentless gripper ... [that] never loses its fiendish hold on the reader’s attention.”
“Delivers the goods, with plenty of action, suspense, and danger.”
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
“Frighteningly plausible...a page turner.”
Seattle Post-Intelligencer
“A powerhouse thriller...a relentless gripper ... [that] never loses its fiendish hold on the reader’s attention.”
Publishers Weekly
Like the lake of its title, Margolin's latest suspense novel (a hybrid with traces of legal thriller and whodunit and a big debt to The Manchurian Candidate) is smooth on the surface with tumultuous secrets lurking beneath. In Portland, Ore., lawyer and single mom Ami Vergano is pleased to take in handsome handyman Dan Morelli as a tenant, since he provides a positive male role model for her 10-year-old son, Ryan. Meanwhile, across the country in Washington, tightly wound tabloid reporter Vanessa Kohler spins elaborate paranoid fantasies (or are they?) involving personal danger and government conspiracy. These two women-and their respective plot threads-come together when Dan's volatility turns a Little League game into a crime scene, and Vanessa steps forward to support him, at considerable risk. But this is only the beginning of a labyrinthine plot built on twists and surprises. Hint: Vanessa's father is an influential general and political power broker. Margolin isn't the most original writer, but what he lacks in style he makes up for in clarity. Plotting is his strong suit. The artful arrangement of the story's episodes keeps the suspense high, and the author fills in the puzzle shrewdly, with small pieces from all over the chronology. The surprises keep coming, even after the story settles mostly into a courtroom drama, with Ami defending Dan on a high-stakes charge. Agent, Jean Naggar. 5-city author tour. (Mar. 1) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Beneath a brawl at a kids' baseball game lies "the biggest scandal in the history of American politics," in this wildly implausible legal thriller from Margolin (Sleeping Beauty, 2004, etc.). Portland lawyer Ami Vergano offers carpenter Dan Morelli the apartment over her garage because she likes his looks and she can use the rent money. But when Dan is attacked by a bullying Little League father, his violent reaction horrifies her, him and the two police officers who subdue him. A preliminary investigation reveals that Dan doesn't exist; everything he's told Ami about himself is a lie, and there's no trace of his identity older than two months. He's really Carl Rice, a U.S. Army captain neck-deep in murderous intrigue. At least that's what tabloid reporter Vanessa Kohler tells Ami when she flies in to demand that Ami represent him. Twenty years ago, according to Vanessa, Carl, her former lover, murdered Congressman Eric Glass on orders from her father, General Morris Wingate, the commander of a top-secret unit specializing in wet work. In the aftermath of the high-profile killing, the general had his daughter committed to an asylum, and Carl disappeared. Now the general, who may have been the second assassin on the grassy knoll (!), is running for president, and Vanessa is as determined to discredit him as he is to liquidate Carl, the key witness against him. Ami, who has no experience in criminal defense, wants off the case, but she ends up defending Carl-and eventually Vanessa, who's soon facing felony charges of her own. Who's telling the truth, the powerful, charismatic candidate or the vengeful daughter discredited by her years in that asylum? As if you had to ask. Except for theoverlong flashbacks, Margolin's tenth may be his best, with everything a thriller should have, except thrills. Literary Guild/Doubleday Book Club/Mystery Guild selection; author tour
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780060735043
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 5/30/2006
  • Format: Mass Market Paperback
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 464
  • Sales rank: 371,089
  • Product dimensions: 7.32 (w) x 4.22 (h) x 1.09 (d)

Meet the Author

Phillip Margolin

Phillip Margolin has written eighteen novels, many of them New York Times bestsellers, including the recent 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.

Good To Know

From 1965 to 1967, Margolin was a Peace Corps volunteer in Liberia, West Africa.

In our interview, Margolin tells us more about himself: "I have a terrific marriage -- 34 years and going strong -- two terrific children who make me proud, and I am the president of Chess for Success, a nonprofit that uses chess to build self-esteem and to trick elementary and middle school children into learning study skills that will help them do well in school. We are currently in 35 Title I elementary schools and six middle schools."

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    1. Also Known As:
      Phillip M. Margolin
    1. Education:
      B.A. in Government, American University, 1965; New York University School of Law, 1970

First Chapter

Lost Lake LP

Chapter One

Portland, Oregon -- The Present

The organizers of the Portland Spring Art Fair had lucked out. It had been a very wet March in Oregon and the weather seers were predicting rain through most of April. But Mother Nature had redecorated in the nick of time, storing away the endless precipitation and gloomy black clouds for another day and setting out sunshine and clear blue skies for the weekend of the fair.

Ami Vergano had dressed in a multicolored peasant skirt and a white blouse with short puffed sleeves to celebrate the pleasant weather. Ami was just over five-four and still had the solid build of the gymnast she'd been until she grew in high school. She kept her brown hair short because it was easy to care for. Her big brown eyes dominated her face. Circumstances had turned Ami serious, but her wide, bright smile could light up a room.

Ami was delighted at the large crowds that were taking advantage of the first sunny days of spring to roam the Park Blocks in search of art. Her booth had attracted people since the fair opened, and three of her oils had sold already. She was putting the money from her most recent sale into her purse when someone spoke.

"I like that. Is it imaginary or did you paint a real scene?"

Ami turned and found a broad-shouldered man admiring one of her landscapes. His face had the tanned, leathery look of someone who spends a lot of time outdoors. Ami figured him for five-ten and in his mid- to late forties. He was dressed in jeans, moccasins, and a plaid long-sleeved shirt. His long hair was gathered in a ponytail, and he had a scraggly mustache and goatee. He brought to mind the hippies of the peace and love generation in the 1960s.

"That's a forest glade not far from my house," Ami said.

"I love the way you've captured the light."

Ami smiled. "Thanks. You have no idea how long I worked to get it just right."

"Dan Morelli," the man said, offering his hand. "I have the booth next door. I saw how many people have been going in and out of yours and decided to see what the fuss was all about."

"Ami Vergano," she said as she took Morelli's hand. It was large and comforting, like his smile. "What are you showing? I've been so busy that I haven't had a chance to look around yet."

"I build custom-made furniture. Take a peek if you get a chance."

"I will. Are you from around here? I haven't seen you at our shows before."

"First time in Oregon," Morelli said.

"Where's home?"

"No place, really. I was an army brat. We moved from town to town. I've been living in Arizona, but it's too dry. I like the woods, the ocean."

"There's not much of that in Arizona."

"No, there's not. Anyway, I heard about the fair and thought I'd see if I could get a few orders."

"How's it going?"

"Good. One fellow who stopped by just opened an accounting office and he wants a desk, bookshelves, and some other stuff. That should keep me busy for a while. Now I just have to find somewhere to stay and a place to work."

Ami hesitated. She didn't know a thing about Morelli, but he seemed nice. She made a snap decision.

"You might be in luck. I have an apartment over my garage that I rent out, and my studio is in a barn behind the house. It has plenty of room for carpentry. There's even a workshop and power tools. A student was renting but he had to leave school early because of an illness in the family, so the apartment is empty."

"I have my own tools, but that does sound just right. Can I drive out after the fair shuts down and have a look?"


"What's the rent?"

She told him and Morelli smiled shyly. "I can make that." He stepped out of Ami's booth and looked over at his own. "Got to go. Looks like I have customers. I'd better sell something now that I have to pay rent."

Ami laughed and waved. "See you around five."

Morelli ducked out, and Ami wrapped her arms around herself. Finances had been tight since her tenant left. She could use the extra money. And it would be fun to have another artist around the place. Morelli seemed nice. She hoped it would work out.

Ami Vergano closed the screen door as quietly as she could and stood on the front porch watching Daniel Morelli teach her ten-year-old son how to throw a curveball. They were in the front yard under the aged oak tree that Ami called Methuselah. Morelli was squatting beside Ryan and gently adjusting his fingers on the seams of a badly scuffed hardball that, along with his mitt, was her son's prize possession. Ryan's brow wrinkled as he concentrated on getting the grip right, oblivious of the darkness that was descending at the end of a perfect spring day. Morelli was wearing jeans and a black T-shirt advertising a local microbrew.

When he stretched out his arm, his biceps, triceps, and forearm looked like coiled rope. For someone approaching fifty, Morelli was in good shape. Ami knew that he ran for miles in the morning because she'd seen him returning to his apartment lathered in sweat when she was leaving for work. Once she'd seen him with his shirt off and had been impressed by the etched perfection of his physique. She had also been surprised to see more than one long scar cutting across his back and stomach.

"That's right," Morelli said, and Ryan grinned with pride. Her son was an energetic, gawky towhead who played Little League with a passion and loved anything to do with baseball ...

Lost Lake LP. Copyright © by Phillip Margolin. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 13 )
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Sort by: Showing 1 – 14 of 13 Customer Reviews
  • Posted December 12, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    Not His Best

    I have been a Margolin fan for many years but, for me, this book was not among his best. The details were overly repetitive. Characters rehashed the same issues over and over and I found myself skimming multiple sections. About a third of the way through the book, we were taken to various points decades back. These sections went on with tremendous detail, making it hard to stay connected to the characters in the present story. Also, I had a problem with the timeline. One of the main characters was drafted in the Vietnam War, yet he was only in his 40s in 2005.

    That being said, Margolin's writing is still crisp and entertaining. While I didn't love this book, it won't deter me from reading more from Phillip Margolin.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 13, 2006

    Enjoyable Summer Read

    Take this one to the beach and you will knock it out in a day or two. Entertaining enough to hold your interest.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted July 3, 2005

    Getting tired

    At first this author kept me involved because of his Portland connection, but that only goes so far. Paper characters and strained story line are disappointing.

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  • Posted December 9, 2008

    more from this reviewer

    exciting political thriller

    General Morris Wingate is running for his party¿ presidential nomination against the incumbent president. To the public at large he is a hero who used his security officers from the company he owns to rescue hostages in Afghanistan. What they don¿t know is that when Wingate ran the agency for intelligence data coordination, he formed a black ops organization and assigned the men to kill those he declared as enemy combatants of the United States.--- To dissolve his personal unit, Morris sent his men into a trap in North Vietnam where they all died except for Carl Rice who escaped. Carl was once the lover of Wingate¿s daughter Vanessa Kohler. When she found about the unit she tried to expose her father as a traitor, but he instead had her committed to a mental institution and now nobody takes her seriously especially since she works on the tabloid Exposed. Carl surfaces after fifteen years on the run; he and Vanessa team up in the hopes of exposing retired General Wingate to the American people.--- Phillip Margolin has written an exciting political thriller that captures and keeps the audience¿s attention even when fans knows almost from the start that Wingate is evil but cleverly eliminates anyone who knew about his clandestine activities.. The audience will keep reading just to find out given the lack of no paper trail or other evidence how Wingate can be convicted in a legal court room or in the court of public opinion. LOST LAKE is a chilling work because the premise feels so plausible.--- Harriet Klausner

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 28, 2005


    Novelists cum attorneys tell their stories with ringing authenticity and revealing detail. Philip Margolin (Gone, But Not Forgotten; Ties That Bind; Wild Justice) practices that art with a skill that few can emulate. This time out, Margolin raises the bar even higher by creating a compelling female protagonist - Vanessa Kohler. Voice performer Deborah Hazlett is an articulate, polished reader who delivers both danger and sincerity with the sound of her voice. When Ami Vergano, a young single mother and an attorney in Portland, Oregon, goes to her son's little league game she is accompanied by a rather new friend, Dan Morelli. She's a bit surprised when Morelli steps in to take the place of an ailing assistant coach, but surprise quickly turns to horror when a brutal fight breaks out on the field. Many miles away Vanessa Kohler is riveted to her television set as she watches a news story about the bloodshed at the little league game. She has a checkered history - she's a former mental patient and has been dismissed as a crazy when she tries to tell officials about her father's involvement in a government conspiracy. The sight of Morelli propels her into action once again. Vanessa hires Ami to defend Morelli who is charged with attempted murder. What Ami discovers about Morelli's past is more than she bargained for, and Vanessa's accusations are equally troubling. It's up to Ami to find out the truth. Suspense all the way on this one - a terrific listen. - Gail Cooke

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