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Worthy Brown's Daughter

3.68  ·  Rating details ·  1,942 ratings  ·  346 reviews
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 sta
Hardcover, 352 pages
Published January 21st 2014 by Harper
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Average rating 3.68  · 
Rating details
 ·  1,942 ratings  ·  346 reviews

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Dec 27, 2013 rated it really liked it
Inspired by real legal cases, Worthy Brown's Daughter is set in Oregon in 1860. There are two concurrent, but unconnected, plots which are linked by Matthew Penny, a young lawyer. In the first, Worthy Brown is a former slave who enlists the aid of Penny to free his teenaged daughter from their former master. The second involves a circuit judge and the richest man in town who are both brought low by the scheming prostitute, Sharon Hill.

This is a novel and interesting setting for a book. I know n
Oct 15, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
My sincere thanks to Harper Collins for giving me the opportunity to read this before publication.

I'd recommend Worthy Brown's Daughter to reader's looking for a good historical novel that explore the themes of women, grieving, slavery and justice. Margolin sets his story in mid-1800 Oregon, an area that he is familiar with and one that he can comfortably and expertly depict. I was immediately drawn into the story by its first chapter, always a good sign.

As not to spoil the story for you, I'll
I'm overwhelmed with disappointment in this book. It's seriously terrible -- overwrought plot, stilted dialogue, banal narration -- despite a promising plot description. And Margolin is billed as a "best selling author," which makes me wonder whether stepping out of his normal genre is the issue or if there's just no accounting for taste.

The plot line from the title is that a prominent Portland attorney brought two slaves with him from Georgia -- a man and his adolescent daughter. Slavery is il
Mar 01, 2014 rated it it was ok
Shelves: historical
I so wanted to like this book more than I did. It has a great premise based on a true story: a man agrees to free his slaves once they help him get settled in Oregon, but he reneges in part of his deal, leaving a young woman as his indentured slave. What could have, and should have, been a fascinating look at the legal system in the new West, reflecting the racial, economic, and social issues of the time, became a superficial pile-up of wacky plots and a main story that went nowhere.

There was li
Diane S ☔
Jan 16, 2014 rated it liked it
Portland, Oregon is the 1860's is a typical frontier town, a place where things are not very easy. Yet, Matthew seizes the opportunity to relocate there from the east, and he and his wife join the wagons heading over the Oregon Trail. Matthew makes it to Oregon, his wife does not.

Once in Oregon,Matthew who is a lawyer becomes embroiled in a few cases over a property dispute and lands on the wrong side of a man, who does not easily forgive. He also decides to undertake the lawsuit of a negro, th
Nov 09, 2013 rated it really liked it
Worthy Brown's Daughter is 2014 Harper publication written by Phillip Margolin. I was provided a copy of this book by the publisher and Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review.

The 1860's, Matthew Penny and his young wife make the journey from Ohio to Oregon where he wished to set up a law practice. Tragically on the journey Rachel dies in an accident. Bereft, Matthew continues on with his plans and sets up a law office in Portland. He isn't really doing all that well with the firm, when he be
Nov 17, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Worthy Brown is a humble man. He works hard for what he wants. For example he was a slave but now he is finally a free man. Not without a lot of hard work and pain. If there was any other way Mr. Brown would take it but there is not. Thus he takes himself down to Matthew Penny's office. Mr. Penny is an attorney.

Mr. Brown's former employer made a deal with Mr. Brown that if he and his daughter worked for him for another year then he would release them both. As you can imagine, he broke that deal
May 21, 2014 rated it it was ok
Sadly disappointed in this Oregon historical fiction. Loosely based on a true story of a slave who is emancipated, and whose child is not released by the wealthy land owner, so the fight for her release ensues. I was hoping for a less Harlequin Romancey story, complete with its light sex scenes, rape and pimps in a whore house. In all, it was too pat for me, and there were too many sub-plots that got checked off in the last few short chapters, check, check, check, ok good, I'm done. Oh, PS, of c ...more
Oct 01, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This fast-paced historical drama -- set in Portland, Oregon in 1860 -- has exciting plot twists in almost every chapter. A must read as a mystery novel and as a historical novel.
Oct 24, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2014-reads
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 daught
May 16, 2015 rated it liked it
I’ve been a fan of Philip Margolin since my sister recommended him years ago. I enjoyed the first book so much, I began to get every one of his books that my library had. He writes great crime type thrillers.

In this book, he steps out of his normal genre and gives historical fiction a shake. This book is based on a real trial, so that may have been his inspiration. But, for me, this didn't work. I really wanted to have the same love for this as I do for his other books, but it didn't happen. I w
Vannessa Anderson
Worthy Brown’s Daughter was not only a great read, it is an important read!

Worthy Brown’s slave owner Caleb Barbour moved from Georgia to Oregon promising Worthy his and his daughter, Roxanne, their freedom after arriving in Oregon. Caleb Barbour, a dishonest man, didn’t keep his word. When Worthy Brown challenged Barbour, Barbour threw Worthy Brown off his property keeping Worthy Brown’s teenage daughter, Roxanne. Worthy hires attorney Matthew Penny to help him get custody of his daughter.

Apr 12, 2014 rated it it was amazing
I love the way this story with its litany of characters comes together, especially toward the end. Very well written novel by author Margolin with some historical facts introduced. 10 of 10 stars
Leonide Martin
Aug 17, 2017 rated it really liked it
Written with spare prose and compelling dialogue, this gripping story plunges readers into Oregon territory in 1860, on the brink of the Civil War when racial tensions were high. Recently widowed attorney Matthew is drawn into the case of former slave Worthy Brown, who asks Matthew to gain release of the daughter kept by his prior owner. The case turns into a murder trial when the despicable Barbour, abusive owner of Brown's daughter, is found dead on his front stairs with Brown standing nearby. ...more
Kristi Richardson
This is the story of early Oregon and their fear of black people. A southerner brings his slaves to the Oregon territory and refuses to release them. No slaves were allowed in Oregon. No free blacks were allowed in Oregon either, unless you arrived before the Oregon Constitution was written.
This is the story (loosely based on facts) of a black man who gained his freedom but his master refused to let his young daughter go.
Mr. Worthy Brown asks a young lawyer to help and the story is most about
J.S. Dunn
Jun 28, 2020 rated it really liked it
A great commercial page-turner, but also good as historical fiction. Margolin took over a decade with this little gem, and based it on actual events in Oregon as the Civil War came about. Given the subject matter, probably none of the big phfatt agents nor publishers now would touch this story and that is a shame.

Margolin does a nuanced and balanced description of how the slavery issue impacted territories and young states and their inhabitants. The writing style is straightforward but does
Apr 10, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This historical fiction novel is quite a departure from Margolin’s usual writing. It was on and off for me as I read it. Parts were very good, other parts less so. It gives an interest g picture of historic frontier justice and how courts are run. I’m glad I stayed with it. A good read.
Jul 21, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I liked this novel! I cared about the main characters. I was engaged in plot threads, especially Barbour’s murder. I enjoyed the historic details of Oregon as it established statehood.
3.5 ⭐️ rounded up to 4 ⭐️
Feb 01, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I have enjoyed Phillip Margolin’s legal thriller set in current times but this is a very different book for Margolin. This a historical novel set in 1860 Portland Oregon. Margolin states that he loosely based the story on a true legal case in 1861 Portland. According to Margolin when Oregon wrote its state constitution it did not allow black people to settle in Oregon but those there prior to statehood could stay and own land. The real case had a black family that was slaves to a white man. When ...more
Phillip Margolin is one of those special authors who, when a reader picks up their book, they know they are in for an entertaining experience.

I was sent this book from Amazon vine, in return for my review and I couldn't be happier that I picked this book.

The time is 1860 and Oregon is really beginning to grow. Matthew Penny and his wife decide to move west from Ohio and travel by wagon train. However, Matthew losses his wife when a wagon is swept down a river crossing.

With this burden behind him
JoAnne Pulcino

Phillip Margolin

Mr. Margolin has become famous writing legal thrillers; in fact he is the author the American Bar Association singled out as their pick for best writer of legal fiction. In his new book he is writing in a completely new genre, WORTHY BROWN’S DAUGHTER is a historical western with of course, a courtroom climax.

Loosely based on true events in Portland, Oregon in the 1860’s, Worthy Brown, a freed black man asks attorney Matthew Penny help in rescuing his daught
I have been reading Margolin’s mysteries for quite a long time, but this historical novel marks a definite departure from his typical serial killer stories. Set in the Oregon territory in the 1860s, Margolin balances the research in the historical detail with characters that really come to life. The pacing moves along quickly and the story, though not entirely unpredictable, unfolds in an engaging manner with vile villains, sympathetic victims and a hero burdened by his past. The legal history w ...more
Sep 02, 2014 rated it did not like it
When I selected this book from the library, it appeared to have an interesting premise. A former slave and his daughter, now living in a state where slavery is not permitted after being transported by their former master, strikes up a deal for freedom for himself and his daughter following a year of servitude in Oregon. After a year, the former owner allows the man to go, but keeps the daughter. The former slave finds a lawyer to represent him to help win back his daughter.

Based on a true story,
Jan 18, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nook-st

"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 entertaining 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
Susie James
Sep 21, 2016 rated it really liked it
I picked up a copy of "Worthy Brown's Daughter" at the paperback swap section of the library in Winona, Miss. I am a fan of historical fiction -- had it for a bit before I dipped into that one, but the writing is clear and draws in the reader quickly. Fast-paced. Has the good quality -- based on a true story, but the afterward explains how Phillip Margolin makes the story his own creation while blending historical details of Oregon in 1860 and relates the events to what's going on in the nation ...more
Oct 05, 2014 rated it really liked it
This is Mr. Margolin's debut historical novel and it's a good one. It takes place in 1860 Portland, Oregon and tells the story of a black man, Worthy Brown, and his daughter who were slaves to an unethical, sleazy lawyer in Georgia who avoids his substantial debts by leaving the state under cover of darkness bound for Oregon. The lawyer makes a deal with Worthy that in exchange for one year's work he would then free Worthy and his daughter. When the time comes for their freedom the lawyer renege ...more
Dec 14, 2014 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: historical, crime, audio
Over the years I've read a number of Margolin's books, and I either like them a lot or I don't. This falls in the latter group. I enjoyed the historical detail, the fact that it's based on a real case, but the dialog was so unrealistic and stilted that it threw me out of the story. I listened, and on audio the clunky dialog is a real problem. Predictable plot but interesting twists, sympathetic characters, colorful language and descriptions, compelling pace. I enjoyed the legal wrangling but got ...more
Glenda L
Mar 06, 2015 rated it it was amazing
This was a GoodReads winner for me ... I have always liked Phillip Margolin's legal thrillers ... this one was different ... another time, another place and very different characters. For readers of Margolin's past books, if you have not read this, I highly recommend it. ...more
Jeff Dickison
Apr 02, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A very good tale, although completely different for Margolin, of the Oregon frontier as recently widowed lawyer attempts to free a young black girl from indentured servitude (slavery) from a southerner. Recommnded.
Shane Hurst
Apr 04, 2018 rated it really liked it
While I appreciate the genre, I’m not a regular reader of the crime/courtroom genre. Worthy Brown’s Daughter is my introduction to Phillip Margolin, and further investigation reveals its historical context as a departure from his usual wheelhouse.

I truly enjoyed the novel, but it did take some time for me to be convinced and committed. Mid-1800s Oregon is a bit niche and the disparate characters and situations take a little assimilation time. The writing does a fine job of evoking the period wi
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