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Sleight of Hand

Sleight of Hand

3.7 43
by Phillip Margolin, Jonathan Davis (Read by)

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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


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.

Editorial Reviews

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.)
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.)
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..”
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.

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.

Product Details

HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
Edition description:
Unabridged, Low Price CD
Product dimensions:
5.80(w) x 5.20(h) x 0.80(d)

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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Sleight of Hand 3.4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 29 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
It's fun to read a story in which the villain is known. The author then must weave in the details in a way that keeps the reader involved. Phillip Margolin does this. One thing that impressed me: In his acknowledgments, Margolin recognizes his copy editor by name. It's easy to see why. This is one of those rare books in which I found no glaring grammar or spelling errors. Kudos to Margolin and to his editors.
Joey44 More than 1 year ago
I love Phillip Margolin’s books and can’t resist his Dana Cutler stories. This book starts out with what seems to be two separate, unrelated stories. Although both were interesting, I kept wondering how they would come together. One story involves Dana Cutler who is a private investigator hired to track down a stolen relic that turns out to be a dead end. When she returns to Virginia, Dana becomes involved in the second story that involves the murder of Carrie Blair just days before she would receive millions of dollars from her husband Horace according to the terms of their prenuptual agreement and he is charged with her murder. In a series of twists and turns, Margolin pulls the two seemingly unrelated incidences together. The two cases turn out to have a common thread and Dana is pitted against Horace Blair's defense attorney Charles Benedict. Dana uncovers evidence that Horace may have been framed for the murder, but Benedict blocks her attempts to get the answers she needs. This story gets really suspenseful when Dana becomes a target of the real killer as she hunts for the truth. Margolin creates a masterful book and captivates readers from the first page. This novel was very well written and the storyline was intricately put together. The character development in this story is quite in depth. You get to know a great deal about the main characters, their lives, and their histories. Sleight of Hand is very well set up. It progresses in a logical fashion from beginning to end while keeping the reader completely captivated with the many different twists found in the story. As usual, I was impressed with Margolin’s ability to take multiple storylines and complex characters and bring them together in a way that held my attention.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Couldn't put it down.Rate five stars
quimbey More than 1 year ago
I'd never read this author before Sleight of Hand. I loved this book and read it all in one day. The story thread just pulled me right through with interesting characters and twists and turns and a great ending. Charles is the perfect criminal. He is a genius, a magician, a killer and a lawyer. What a combination!!! I'll get more books by this author.
spm3sons More than 1 year ago
I thought "Phillip Margolin IS BACK"!! I loved it!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Right up there wirh Margolin's top ones. If your a fan you won't be disappointed.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Most of Margolin's books are the best! Always keeps me on my toes and guessing, the suspense drives me crazy. This particular one was not one of my favorites, sorry to say, but still an exciting and good read.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Another Dana Cutler novel. I love this author's works. The book is worth your time. 
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Suspenful and complicated plot fun read
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A little all over the place in the beginning, but keeps your attention and great ending
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
You already who killed Carrie and the best part was how the policeand the detective came togather. Loved it. The bad part was it was only 252 pages.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The_occasional_blonde More than 1 year ago
Fun read
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
For me its a little slow to start.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Not an especially great read. I certainly have read many more exciting crime stories but this definitely was not one of them.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I quit reading this when the multi millionaire (or billionaire) called an attorney who had admitted to having an affair with his wife. Said attorney is a professional hit man who panics and shoots said wife, then proceeds to blame millionaire husband. I would think the husband, being a millionaire, would have an army of legal counsel on retainer. But to choose the man who admits to cheating with your wife? I'm sure I would have many more complaints, but that was as far as I got in the book. I won't even mention when Benedict switched evidence in the courtroom. Please! people are paying good money to read a good book. This book is totally unbelievable. If you must read it, get it from the library.