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A Matter of Life and Death: Robin Lockwood #4    by Phillip Margolin order for
Matter of Life and Death
by Phillip Margolin
Order:  USA  Can
Minotaur, 2021 (2021)
Hardcover, CD, e-Book
* * *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

A Matter of Life and Death follows A Reasonable Doubt as the fourth in Phillip Margolin's legal mystery series starring young criminal defense attorney Robin Lockwood. A Yale Law graduate and ex-MMA fighter, she's now a partner in a Portland, Oregon law firm.

This episode focuses on what seems an airtight death penalty case, one that Robin is at first very reluctant to take on, as she knows such cases cause anxiety and constant stress. Readers watch as Joe Lattimore, who desperately wants to make enough money to give his young family a home (they're currently in an unsafe tent city), is inveigled into an illegal bout. When his opponent dies, the organizers blackmail Joe into committing a burglary.

It's obvious to readers that this is a set-up. There's a dead woman in the house and an anonymous tip quickly leads to Joe's arrest for murder. Given his fingerprints at the scene, his conviction seems assured. The husband of the murdered woman is Judge Anthony Carasco, who makes clear that his judgments can be bought in the very first chapter. He has a very bad reputation.

Robin's investigation into Lattimore's case takes her into the world of illegal fights. As always, she charges into danger but this time, her boyfriend Jeff is the one injured, leading to a big change in their relationship. The author delivers another convoluted, puzzling legal mystery in A Matter of Life and Death. Robin Lockwood is an appealing lead, with a different set of vulnerabilities from the norm for the genre, and Margolin is an accomplished storyteller.

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