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Worthy Brown's Daughter

Worthy Brown's Daughter

4.3 17
by Phillip Margolin

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Known for his critically acclaimed contemporary thrillers, New York Times bestselling author Phillip Margolin explores intriguing new territory in Worthy Brown's Daughter, a compelling historical drama, set in nineteenth-century Oregon, that combines a heartbreaking story of slavery and murder with classic Margolin plot twists.

One of a handful


Known for his critically acclaimed contemporary thrillers, New York Times bestselling author Phillip Margolin explores intriguing new territory in Worthy Brown's Daughter, a compelling historical drama, set in nineteenth-century Oregon, that combines a heartbreaking story of slavery and murder with classic Margolin plot twists.

One of a handful of lawyers in the new state of Oregon, recently widowed Matthew Penny agrees to help Worthy Brown, a newly freed slave, rescue his fifteen year old daughter, Roxanne, from their former master, a powerful Portland lawyer. Worthy's lawsuit sets in motion events that lead to Worthy's arrest for murder and create an agonizing moral dilemma that could send either Worthy or Matthew to the hangman.

At the same time, hanging judge Jed Tyler, a powerful politician with a barren personal life, becomes infatuated with a beautiful gold-digger who is scheming to murder Benjamin Gillette, Oregon's wealthiest businessman. When Gillette appears to die from natural causes, Sharon Hill produces a forged contract of marriage and Tyler must decide if he will sacrifice his reputation to defend that of the woman who inspired his irrational obsession.

At Worthy's trial, Matthew saves Worthy by producing a stunning courtroom surprise and his attempt to stop the deadly fortune hunter ends in a violent climax.

Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
Approximately 30 years ago, Margolin began writing this novel inspired by a case from the 1800s in which Col. Nathaniel Ford brought a slave family from Missouri to Oregon to help him start up his farm on the condition they would be freed after it was up and running. Colonel Ford freed the parents but kept the children as indentured servants. In this fictionalized account, attorney Matthew Penny, recently located to Oregon, agrees to help freed slave Worthy Brown recover his daughter, Roxanne, from his former master Caleb Barbour, a Portland lawyer. Many twists and turns later, Brown eventually finds himself on trial for murder. Matthew seeks help from a prominent attorney in the area, Orville Mason, and finds himself immersed in a scuffle between businessman Ben Gillette, his beautiful daughter, Heather, and gold digger Sharon Hill. VERDICT With plenty of action and short chapters, this historical legal thriller is a quick read. Some of the conversation seems stilted and contrived, and certain plotlines are too easily and quickly tied up. Margolin's fans might be surprised by this one, which strays from his normal modern thrillers, but the lively narrative will keep readers engrossed. [See Prepub Alert, 8/26/13.]—Brooke Bolton, North Manchester P.L., IN
Publishers Weekly
Based loosely on true events, the latest legal thriller from criminal defense attorney turned bestseller Margolin (Lost Lake) follows Matthew Penny, a pistol-bearing lawyer guided by his own moral compass. Portland, Ore., in the 1860s is a nest of conflict: property lawsuits stall the inevitable construction of a railroad, and a black man on trial expects a racist jury. Here, the innocent is Worthy Brown, a freed black man who asks Matthew to rescue his daughter, Roxanne, from Caleb Barbour, a crooked lawyer who illegally holds her in servitude. When Worthy is discovered standing over Caleb’s dead body, and only he and Matthew know the truth, justice seems unlikely. Around this central drama, Margolin establishes characters that might have stepped out of a grainy Western, among them the evil siren Sharon Hill—“a full-figured woman whose oval face was framed by ebony ringlets that were in sharp contrast to her milk-white complexion.” Margolin allows passions to sway his heroes, and generates empathy toward his crooks. If only the black characters worshipped their white benefactors less, or if one female character was spared a derogatory physical description. The plot is at times frustratingly one-dimensional, but Matthew is ultimately forced to distinguish truth from justice. On the courtroom floor, where Margolin is clearly at home, the stock characters adopt roles, albeit briefly, in a satisfying, white-knuckle climax. (Feb.)
“The Old West comes alive in heart-wrenching, violent, and wicked racist color…. Legal thriller and western fans will stay with it to the last page.… Margolin’s novel offers a compelling portrait of small town justice done right.”
Huffington Post
“In New York Times bestselling author Phillip Margolin’s first historical, recently widowed attorney Matthew Penny has come to newly-settled Oregon to start fresh. He stumbles into the most challenging case of his career when a former slave, Worthy Brown, asks him to save his teenage daughter.”
USA Today
“This departure for best-selling thriller writer Margolin might appeal to fans of the acclaimed movie 12 Years a Slave.”
Oregonian (Portland)
“Margolin captures both the haphazard legal theater—when judges ride the circuit, Portland’s ‘courthouse’ is a loft on the third floor of the Coleman Barrel Company—and the daunting racism of the times.”
“Phillip Margolin explores intriguing new territory in Worthy Brown’s Daughter, a compelling historical drama, set in nineteenth-century Oregon, that combines a heartbreaking story of slavery and murder with classic Margolin plot twists.”
Iron Mountain News
Worthy Brown’s Daughter reads something like Deadwood meets Twelve Years a Slave. The finale in the courtroom is as brilliant and exciting as any great legal drama…. [A] beautifully written story rooted in America’s brutal history of slavery and racism.”
Bellingham Herald
“The action is brisk and the villains are shifty…[t]his energetic tale does cover interesting regional history for readers who might be averse to picking up a book of nonfiction, but who are willing to follow Margolin in his break from the regular routine.”
Seattle Times
Worthy Brown’s Daughteris a fast and absorbing read, and Margolin’s law expertise makes the book’s climax…an exciting moment indeed.”
Kirkus Reviews
Legal thriller writer Margolin (Sleight of Hand, 2013, etc.) turns back the clock to confront murder, deceit and slavery in frontier Oregon. It's 1860. Matthew Penny's established a hardscrabble law practice in bustling Portland, but Matthew isn't happy. On the trail from Ohio to Oregon, his wife, Rachel, drowned during a river crossing. Haunted by her death, Matthew throws himself into cases he finds in taverns, farms and settlements, like Phoenix. Matthew's there to try a civil case against Ben Gillette, Oregon's richest man. Before that trial, however, the judge compels Matthew to defend a salesman against theft charges brought by a beautiful, mysterious traveler from San Francisco, Sharon Hill. Matthew loses, but before that trial, he had been approached by Worthy Brown, a former slave. Worthy warns him that Ben's attorney intends to fix the Gillette jury. For that information, Worthy wants Matthew's assistance in freeing his daughter from indentured servitude. Ben's attorney, Caleb Barbour, came to Oregon from the slave state of Georgia. Caleb's reneged on a promise to free the pair after arrival in Oregon. Margolin's novel draws on historical elements, but midnarrative, he strays from legal confrontations over slavery. The story becomes historical fiction encompassing murder and romance, albeit one peopled with sympathetic characters, major and minor. Margolin shines in recreating pioneer life, especially as Matthew rides the court circuit, traipses mud-bogged Portland streets and sails to gold-rush–rich San Francisco. There, Matthew confronts a crooked lawyer conspiring to loot the Gillette empire. In the end, there's legal wrangling, murder and romance, set against the backdrop of race and frontier life. Margolin's dialogue is sometimes affected, sometimes faintly anachronistic, but his scene-setting, knowledge of the frontier and relating of the hard task of the law make for an appealing read that, the author says, took 30 years to write.

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HarperCollins Publishers
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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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Worthy Brown's Daughter 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 17 reviews.
Twink More than 1 year ago
In the early 1980's lawyer Phillip Margolin stumbled upon a case from an Oregon file dated 1844. The case stayed with him over the years and "I was so inspired by this story that I began thinking about writing a novel loosely based on it." Nearly thirty years later, he did. Margolin's latest release is Worthy Brown's Daughter. Matthew Penny, a young lawyer in mid 1880's Oregon, is hired by former slave Worthy Brown. His master freed Worthy, but reneged on his promise to also free Worthy's young daughter Roxanne. Penny takes the case. Margolin also mixes in a secondary storyline involving a crooked judge and a gold digger. The two plots do have a connection - the headstrong woman who captures Penny's interest. I chose to listen to Worthy Brown's Daughter. The reader was Jason Culp. Culp has a clear speaking voice that is easy to listen to. He does provide lots of inflection, accenting actions and emotions. But I did have a hard time with the voices he provided for some characters - notably the females and black characters. They seemed overdone and overwrought. But this could simply be the dialogue that Culp is reading from. I thought some of Margolin's scenes and dialogue were over sensationalized. This detracted from what was otherwise a solid storyline. Margolin has done his research - the legal system of the time is accurately portrayed. It was fascinating to think that this was an actual case. From the publisher's website: "Worthy Brown's Daughter is a compelling white-knuckle drama about two broken men risking everything for what they believe in." Not quite for this listener. I found it to be entertaining, but nowhere near white-knuckle territory. Margolin is a prolific author, having penned many legal thrillers. Fans of James Patterson would enjoy Margolin's style of writing.
gedCA More than 1 year ago
"Law was like that. Victory and elation one minute, and crushing defeat the next."—page 41 WORTH BROWN'S DAUGHTER, by Phillip Margolin is a very entering read—an exceptionally well told historical novel, with a lawyerly twist. Set in the exciting city of Portland, during Oregon's first year of statehood, 1860, with side junkets to the glittering city of San Francisco and its nefarious Barbary Coast, this novel is a special treat for fans of the history of the western edge of the country. Recommendation: Highly recommended for all who might be interested in history, law and/or culture; and to those, who just enjoy good, engaging, illuminating storytelling. "…then he would be forced to admit that he had destroyed his reputation and career for the delusions and criminal ambitions of a madwoman."—page 236 NOOKbook edition, 283 pages
birdieman More than 1 year ago
About as plain Jane as you can get in a story. Reminded me of the old black and white TV oaters. Good book for a young teenager.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Predictable story left me disappointed since I usually enjoy Margolin' s books
lindagrammer More than 1 year ago
Thought it was slow at first but then was very good
Anonymous 4 months ago
Great read
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I learned so much of our history from this book
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She twirls around.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
* come here to chat if u r a policeman. *
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
No. I cant do this. Goodbye nat