Jul 06, 10
Read in April, 2004
Tenth thriller's plot almost too twisty to believe...
We have read and generally enjoyed all nine of Margolin's previous outings, and find that this lawyer turned writer can craft a suspenseful story line along with the best of them. The books that have left us a little cold were ones where the author overpopulates with so many events and characters, doing justice to few of them, that hardly a reader can keep it all straight. Fortunately, in "Beauty", we have a cast of just a few main players to consider:
Ashley Spencer, a teenager who witnesses the brutal murder of her girlfriend and her father, and just narrowly escapes herself;
Joshua Maxfield, the alleged murderer who for much of the book is either a fugitive from the crime or in prison for it;
Miles Van Meter, best-selling author of a true-life account of the Spencer murders and the impact on his comatose sister;
Casey Van Meter, yet another victim who after Terri Spencer (Ashley's mother, who was away during the first attack) is killed in her sight, is struck on the head and spends years in a coma (ergo, the sleeping beauty!);
Randy Coleman, Casey's soon to be ex-husband from a mistaken quickie marriage;
and Jerry Philips, Ashley's attorney, who for a while takes almost too much personal interest in this whole matter.
Which one of these is really the killer? We're lead down many a path before all becomes clearer toward the end. Even with the big twist that gets to be a little foreseeable, a further twist right at the very end is good for a pretty shocking climax. Interesting courtroom drama helps break up the more violent action of much of the novel.
Most will find Margolin's latest a pleasing puzzler. We were not totally enamored by the telling of the story through flashbacks alternating with current time scenes where Miles is entertaining a crowd at a book signing. But the plot proceeds at a good pace, the characters are portrayed well enough, and the ending will catch many off guard. Guess that's what a thriller is all about!