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by Phillip Margolin
Minotaur, March 2020
289 pages
ISBN: 1250117542

Buy in the UK | Buy in Canada

Robin Lockwood, a partner at Barrister, Berman, and Lockwood, finds herself dealing with magicians and murder spanning some 20 plus years.

In 2017, after asking for Regina Barrister, Robert Chesterfield approached Robin to help him patent his new illusion, Chamber of Death. It seems Regina represented Robert in 1998 and got him acquitted on murder charges. According to Regina, the DA charged Robert with sending poisoned chocolates to the Westmont Country Club manager Sam Moser, who called Robert out over his inappropriate behavior. Moser passed them on to his assistant, Sophia, who died immediately after eating one. Deputy DA and prosecutor Peter Ragland lost the case due to his overconfidence and sloppy work.

Even though Robin turns down Robert's request to patent his illusion, she attends the premiere of the Chamber of Death at Robert's seaside mansion. The illusion's ending stuns the small but select audience: Robert completely disappears, leaving considerable financial debts unresolved.

Fast forward to 2020. Robin sees an ad declaring that Lord Robert Chesterfield will rise from the dead during the premiere of the Chamber of Death at the Imperial Theater. At the premiere performance, instead of an empty sarcophagus that highlights the escape, Robert is found inside, dead.

Plenty of suspects exist. Sam Moser and Sophia's family, all who believe Robert sent the poisoned chocolates. Auggie, the moneylender Robert owes. Joe Samuels who files criminal charges against Robert for a broken contract. David Turner, a magician whose Los Vegas show Robert destroys by exposing how Turner's illusion worked.

Phillip Margolin writes a fascinating and intricate mystery. He uses flashbacks to incorporate Regina Barrister's activities as the savvy attorney who is now slowly succumbing to dementia. In this third Robin Lockwood novel, characters and relationships continue to evolve, and the pace builds nicely.

"I had more fun writing A REASONABLE DOUBT than almost any other book I've written because I love magic and a grand magic illusion is at the heart of this book," writes author Margolin in the book's acknowledgments. A skilled wordsmith applies his brand of magic, creating a riveting story that is difficult to put down, even harder to forget.

§ Ruth Castleberry has worked as an investigator for Pinkerton’s, a city desk assistant on the Charlotte News, free-lance writer, marketing/business strategy consultant, competitive intelligence practitioner and digital marketing consultant.

Reviewed by Ruth Castleberry, March 2020

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Contact: Yvonne Klein (ymk@reviewingtheevidence.com)

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