Wednesday, March 19, 2008

AFTER DARK: A REVIEW

AFTER DARK
by Philip Margolin
ISBN-0-553-56908-2
Hard Cover Doubleday 7/95
pb Bantam 6/96 354pg.

Author Phillip Margolin is a criminal defense lawyer in Portland, Oregon, where this novel is set. The book reflects its knowledgeable creator. Descriptions set a well-thought-out series of locations, so the reader has a real sense of place and relationship of one to the others. The characters stand up and become real, well-modulated individuals. The novel takes on current trends to bring back and expand the death penalty. But while it is clear where the author stands on the issue, this is not a shrill polemic which refuses to see or even acknowledge the nuances of the issue. Regardless, AFTER DARK is a crackling good story, with enough action, mystery and plot twists to satisfy anyone.

Matthew Reynolds is a nationally known criminal defense attorney, driven by his own obsessive demons. A brilliant tactician, he hires newly minted attorney, Tracy Cavanaugh, as the first woman ever in his practice. When an Oregon Supreme Court Justice is murdered by a car-bomb, she is drawn abruptly into a case with more layers than a German chocolate tort. More murder, illegal deals, betrayal and hidden passion among the players who intersect in many ways, is ultimately revealed.

These revelations, shifting over uncertain moral and ethical grounds, cast a dark shadow over the entire novel. AFTER DARK is a fascinating exploration of the shades of gray in which all our lives are played out, of the moral dilemmas, large and small, we all face every day. Few will guess the final resolution and most will remember this novel well after they finish the last page.

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