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Book Review - "Woman With a Gun" by Phillip Margolin

The following book review is a special for BlackFive readers provided by Elise Cooper.  You can read all of our book reviews by clicking on the Books category link on the right side bar.

9780062266521_p0_v1_s260x420Woman With A Gun, the latest by New York Times Bestselling author Phillip Margolin is a very unique crime novel.  What inspired this riveting thriller is the photograph seen on the cover of the book, which works as the focal point for this mystery. 

This book is really a story within a story as Margolin takes his personal experience and transfers it to Stacey Kim.  She wants to become a writer and sees this Pulitzer Prize winning photograph at an art museum that inspires her to find the history behind it.  Deciding to travel to Oregon, the setting for the photo, she discovers there was a Cold Case murder associated with it. The other piece of the plot has readers trying to unravel the killing of Raymond Cahill that occurred the night of his wedding. That evening, amateur photographer Kathy Moran took a stunning photograph of newlywed Megan Cahill standing on the beach, facing the sea, in her wedding gown, holding a western six-shooter. Moments later, Kathy discovered the body of Raymond Cahill, Megan’s millionaire husband, in their beach house.

Margolin commented to, “In Georgia.  I was keynoting a writing conference.  In a restaurant restroom over the toilet was the photograph seen on the cover of the book.  I was blown away with the many possible scenarios that were running through my mind. Has the woman killed her husband on their wedding night? Is she going to commit suicide? Is she waiting for someone she plans to kill? I knew then I had the name of the book and the cover. The real story behind the photograph is not romantic and is actually bland. I asked the photographer, Leslie Jeter, because I was really curious. She was a commercial photographer at this wedding rehearsal.  Everyone there were gun enthusiasts and had her take pictures, each one holding a different type of gun.”

The two main characters are very compelling, complex, and well developed.  Kathy Moran was a defense attorney that went up against a young prosecutor, on the fast track to success.  After her drug dealer client was found not guilty, she appeared to have everything at her fingertips.  That is until she was disbarred for possessing drugs. She quits law and finds peace in Palisades Heights, a town on the Oregon Coast, while pursuing her dream career as a photographer.  Margolin is able to have this character that uses sex as a way to get ahead, appear at times sympathetic, and alternately between being good and bad. 

The male lead is Jack Booth who was demoted after being humiliated by losing to Moran and is now a special prosecutor.  He is a womanizer, and someone who drinks and smokes way too much.  He also is obsessed with Kathy Moran and allows this ten-year-long infatuation to influence how he handles his job. 

Margolin thinks that readers will appreciate “that the tone of the book became decidedly noir.  I realized I was writing a story that could have been filmed in black and white in the 1940s starring Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall as Jack and Kathy respectively.”

Woman With A Gun is fueled by a very intriguing picture and well developed characters.  Margolin has a straightforward and natural style with his many twists and turns throughout the plot.  Readers are kept off balance, suspecting many different characters as the killer, as they engage in this page-turner story.