HarperCollins, Jun 2 2009, $26.99
In 1997, con man Charlie Marsh is a few weeks from being released from prison when his best friend Crazy Eddie holds three visiting female librarians and the penitentiary warden as hostages. He saves a guard’s life getting accidentally stabbed in the process and that of the other hostages. Eddie blows himself up. Charlie is a hero and hooks up with agent Mickey Keys as they claim “The Light Within You” guided him. However, on tour in Oregon, Charlie has a tryst with local host Sally Pope, wife of a Congressman. When the spouse Arnold Pope Jr. attacks Charlie, all hell breaks out and Arnold is killed. Charlie flees for Africa while Sally stands trial for abetting a murder; attorney Frank Jaffe gets her acquitted after some shenanigans from her father-in-law Arnold, Sr.
However after a dozen years in Batanga under the ruthless rule of Jean Claude Baptiste, Charlie needs to escape as the cruel dictator knows he had an affair with his favorite wife the tortured and now dead Bernadette. Charlie arranges for World News to fund his return to the States where death row is safer than Batanga. Frank’s daughter Amanda heads the defense while Baptiste sends killer Nelson Tuazama to kill Charlie but not before he retrieves diamonds the expatriate snuck out of the country.
This thriller is clearly over the top especially the last third current day trial, but no one will care as the reader is hooked from the opening sequence in Batanga, through what happened a dozen years ago, and finally the present day legal thriller. The story line is fast-paced from the onset and the cast solid especially the title character and his lawyer. With a terrific full circle spin, fans will appreciate Phillip Margolin’s exhilarating thriller.