Plot elements in The Darkest Place, Phillip Margolin’s fifth legal thriller featuring Portland, Oregon, lawyer Robbin Lockwood, include a bitter divorce, a looted investment firm, a surrogate mother who wants her baby back, a kidnapping, a pair of thuggish debt collectors, two criminal trials, torture and four brutal murders.
Yet the novel is so tedious that reading it is a chore.
The writing is clear but often drab and graceless. Except for Lockwood, the characters are not well developed. Minor characters, including some who appear only once, are pointlessly described in detail. The courtroom scenes are annoyingly repetitious, regurgitating details that were disclosed earlier in the text. The dialogue rarely resembles the way real people talk, the voices of police detectives, lawyers, expert witnesses, and thugs so similar that speakers are indistinguishable without authorial attributions.
The author, whose 25 previous thrillers have sometimes made The New York Times bestseller list, does too much telling and not enough showing. He relates key developments in a ponderous, droning narrative instead of developing scenes that could bring the story alive for the reader. He does this even when revealing the depravity of the villain of the piece in the book’s closing moments.
To read the full text of my review for The Associated Press, please click here.