Sleight of Hand

Sleight of Hand

3.7 43
by Phillip Margolin, TBD

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Charles Benedict—magnetic criminal defense lawyer, amateur illusionist, and professional hit man—and private investigator Dana Cutler are on a collision course set in motion by Benedict's greatest sleight of hand yet: framing a millionaire for the murder of his much younger wife.

Ten years ago, Horace Blair fell in love with Carrie, the prosecutor

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Charles Benedict—magnetic criminal defense lawyer, amateur illusionist, and professional hit man—and private investigator Dana Cutler are on a collision course set in motion by Benedict's greatest sleight of hand yet: framing a millionaire for the murder of his much younger wife.

Ten years ago, Horace Blair fell in love with Carrie, the prosecutor during his DUI trial. After a torrid courtship, he persuaded her to marry him and to sign a prenuptial agreement guaranteeing her twenty million dollars if she remained faithful during the first ten years of their marriage. The week before their tenth anniversary, Carrie disappears, and Horace is charged with her murder. Desperate to clear his name, the millionaire hires one of D.C.'s most brilliant and ruthless defense attorneys—Charles Benedict.

Meanwhile, private investigator Dana Cutler is in the Pacific Northwest on the trail of a stolen relic, a gold scepter dating back to the Ottoman Empire. Hitting a dead end, she returns to Virginia, perplexed and disappointed—and straight into the twisting case of Horace and Carrie Blair.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Audio
Margolin kicks off his latest thriller with a bit of literary legerdemain. He introduces Charles Benedict, a strikingly handsome and charismatic defense attorney and amateur magician who appears to be the novel’s leading man. But Benedict is swiftly exposed as an extremely effective homicidal sociopath, and the book shifts to its true protagonist, private sleuth Dana Cutler, who is quickly dispatched on a convoluted cross-country search for a bejeweled golden scepter with a history curiously similar to that of Sam Spade’s famous Maltese Falcon. It’s a given that this quest will eventually bring the shrewd detective in contact with the homicidal Benedict. Jonathan Davis’s narration is smooth and well paced. He adds just the right amount of smarm and smirk to Benedict’s speech and captures all of Dana’s drive, determination, and fearlessness. The book’s other characters have more than their share of accents—from the mysterious Frenchwoman who sends Dana after the scepter to a surprisingly cheery Russian mob boss. Davis ably handles these and others in a stylish performance with just an appropriate hint of sardonic amusement. A Harper hardcover. (Apr.)
Library Journal - Audio
In Margolin’s (Capitol Murder) latest, PI Dana Cutler must stop Charles Benedict, a criminal defense attorney who has set up millionaire Horace Blair to take the fall for Blair’s wife’s death right before she fulfilled the terms of their prenuptial agreement. Margolin creates an engaging murder story laced with mystery, history, intrigue, and descriptive detail. Jonathan Davis offers brilliant narration of a story that captures the listener’s attention.

Verdict Recommended to those who enjoy hearing from the criminal’s viewpoint as well as that of the victim. [The Harper hc was a New York Times best seller.—Ed.]—Thadious Polasek, Schulenburg P.L., TX
(c) Copyright 2013. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Publishers Weekly
Bestseller Margolin’s stylish if shallow fourth suspense novel featuring Washington, D.C., PI Dana Cutler (after 2012’s Capitol Murder) pits her against a particularly slimy and dangerous villain. Dispatched by client Margot Laurent to the Pacific Northwest in search of a golden scepter that once belonged to an Ottoman sultan, Cutler finds a connection between the valuable relic and Horace Blair, “the multimillionaire head of a conglomerate with tentacles in shipping, scrap metal, real estate, and other lucrative enterprises.” Back in D.C., defense lawyer Charles Benedict—magician, rapist, blackmailer, killer—is trying to frame Blair for the murder of his wife, Virginia prosecutor Carrie Blair, who disappeared shortly before termination of her prenup would have made her very rich. Cutler returns home in time to witness Blair’s bail hearing and discover a surprising link between Margot and Carrie. Cutler meets Benedict’s clever machinations with equally clever countermeasures, but readers should be prepared for superficial characterizations. Agents: Jean Naggar and Jennifer Weltz, Jean V. Naggar Literary Agency. (Apr.)
Associated Press Staff
“Phillip Margolin’s best book in years. Deception is prominent, and the villain is truly vile.…A magician never reveals his secrets, and like the best prestidigitators, Margolin manipulates readers into believing one thing, then reveals the surprising truth..”
Kirkus Reviews
Washington, D.C. shamus Dana Cutler (Capitol Murder, 2012, etc.) goes up against an impossibly clever killer: an amateur magician who's also a member of the bar. The legal eagles who find Charles Benedict intelligent and charming would undoubtedly be surprised to know that he's also a stone-cold killer who doesn't flinch from liquidating the occasional thorn in the side of his associate Nikolai Orlansky, a pillar of the Russian Mafia. Fresh from his latest such favor for Orlansky, Benedict decides that it would be fun to have sex with Carrie Blair, a narcotics prosecutor who's having another quarrel with her much older husband, Horace, a wealthy businessman. So he drugs her, takes her home, drugs her again, has his way with her and then demands $250,000 for suppressing the evidence that she's violated her prenup. Alas, their negotiating session ends with Carrie's death, and now Benedict, who never planned this murder, realizes that he'll have to do some fancy footwork indeed if he's to avoid serious jail time. But great illusionists are also great improvisers, and soon enough, Benedict has not only framed Horace very convincingly for his wife's murder, but has also gotten Horace to hire him as his defense attorney. He'll get away with his crime scot-free unless Detective Frank Santoro, of the Lee County police, joins forces with Dana, back in town after a wild goose chase after the priceless and totally fictitious Ottoman Scepter, to take equally resourceful measures against him. They do, he's trapped, and then the tale is over. Margolin presents another triumph of inventive plotting over paper-thin characterization, flat prose and a wholesale departure from realism. The result is on a par with an especially good episode of Columbo.

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Product Details

HarperCollins Publishers
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Product dimensions:
5.36(w) x 5.70(h) x 0.78(d)

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