Cover image for Wild justice
Wild justice
Margolin, Phillip.
Personal Author:
[Large print edition].
Publication Information:
New York : HarperCollins, [2000]

Physical Description:
451 pages ; 24 cm
Geographic Term:
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
X Adult Large Print Large Print

On Order



Seven years ago, Phillip Margolin seized the imagination of thriller readers everywhere with his chilling breakout bestseller, Gone, but Not Forgotten. After five subsequent New York Times bestsellers, Margolin now returns to the haunting terrain of Gone, but Not Forgotten with a mesmerizing tour de force of psychological suspense, an electrifying tale of revenge and retribution that shows a master storyteller at the very peak of his craft.

Thursday: Subject is still combative after four days of applied pain, sleep deprivation and minimal food.

Vice squad detective Bobby Vasquez, for months on the trail of a slippery underworld figure, receives an anonymous tip that directs him to a mountain cabin. He races through the idyllic Oregon woods, expecting to close the book on a long-standing vendetta. What he finds instead opens a Pandora's box of horror that will haunt him to his dying day.

8:10: Subject bound and gaffed and placed in upstairs closet at end of hall. Turned out lights in house, drove off, then parked and doubled back. Watched from woods.

Within hours, Vincent Cordoni -- a brilliant surgeon with a history of violence and drug abuse -- is arrested for a heinous crime. Facing a seemingly insurmountable wall of evidence, he turns to Portland's top criminal defense attorney, Frank Jaffe-who, along with his ambitious daughter, Amanda, must put on an inspired defense. Amanda's first taste of criminal defense work is as intoxicating as it is chilling, but it raises moral questions she's loath to address. Is she defending an innocent man? Or is she using her considerable skills to set a monster free? Then Cardoni disappears under bizarre circumstances. Four years later, a second set of murders has begun ....

8:55: Subject exits house, naked and barefoot, armed with kitchen knife. Remarkable strength of character. Breaking her will be a challenge.

Has Cardoni resurfaced to ply his deadly trade anew? Is there a copycat killer? Or has the real killer been someone else all along? The police will do everything they can to stop Cardoni -- but they have to find him first.

Following a twisting trail of clues, including a harrowing diary that clinically records the killer's horrible deeds, Amanda Jaffe and Bobby Vasquez join the hunt-and themselves become targets of the twenty-first century's first genuinely monstrous psychopath.


Author Notes

Philip Margolin was born in New York City in 1944. He received a bachelor's degree in government from The American University in 1965. From 1965 to 1967, he was a Peace Corps volunteer in Liberia. He graduated from New York University School of Law in 1970. From 1972 until 1996, he was in private practice in Portland, Oregon, specializing in criminal defense. He has tried many high profile cases and has argued in the Supreme Court. He was the first attorney to use the battered woman's syndrome defense in a homicide case in Oregon.

His first novel, Heartstone, was published in 1978. He has been a full-time author since 1996. His other works include The Last Innocent Man; Gone, But Not Forgotten; After Dark; The Burning Man; The Undertaker's Widow; Wild Justice; The Associate; Sleeping Beauty; Capitol Murder and Sleight of Hand. He also writes short stories and non-fiction articles in magazines and law journals.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Margolin's seventh novel is at least as good as his remarkable early books, including The Last Innocent Man (1995) or Heartstone (1995); it may even be better. His previous novel, The Undertaker's Widow (1998), felt like he was trying to imitate John Grisham, but Margolin is a far superior writer, and here he returns to the complex, intelligent storytelling his fans have come to expect. The plot is straightforward enough: a serial killer is torturing and murdering people seemingly at random, and investigators scramble to stop the psychopath. But, as readers familiar with his novels know, Margolin likes to play variations on a theme, and here he offers not one but two prime suspects--Dr. Vincent Cardoni, a prominent surgeon, and Dr. Justine Castle, Cardoni's estranged wife. Each accuses the other of a frame-up, and Amanda Jaffe, a rather inexperienced young attorney, has to figure out which of her clients may be a murderer. A very clever thriller indeed, and a delight for Margolin's many fans. --David Pitt

Publisher's Weekly Review

Devious doctors test the ethics of ambitious attorneys in Margolin's (The Undertaker's Widow) latest speed-read, and give a plot already adrenalized by drug deals, serial murders and organized crime an added jolt of grisly medical mayhem. Novice criminal lawyer Amanda Jaffe helps her legal eagle father Frank defend Portland surgeon Vincent Cardoni against charges that the doctor conspired to sell illicitly harvested organs to support his coke habit and maintained a private torture chamber for his victims in a mountain cabin outside the city limits. Cardoni is freed on a technicalityDand presumed murdered by the mob shortly afterward when his disappearance coincides with the discovery of his severed hand. Four years later, Amanda is asked to lead the defense of doctor Justine Castle, Vincent's ex-wife, when her fingerprints turn up all over another cabin slaughterhouse. Amanda worries that Justine, whose first two husbands also died suspiciously, set up Vincent, but Justine has another theory: psychopathic Vincent is still alive and doing his best to frame her. En route to a breathtaking finale in which Amanda plays bait to the true killer at yet another bloodstained hideout, Margolin buffets the reader with an endless stream of pulpy plot twists: a shamed cop's reformation, rampaging Russian hit men, creative surgery and astonishingly acrobatic feats of pursuit and escape by ordinary people. Only the hysterical pace of the adventures will prevent readers from dwelling too long on their implausibility; meanwhile, pages will turn fast enough to make the perfect breeze for chilling beachside escapists. 250,000 first printing; $250,000 ad/promo; Literary Guild, Doubleday Book Club, Mystery Guild and BOMC selections; 12-city author tour. (Aug.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

Quelle horreur! The pace of Margolin's (Gone, but Not Forgotten) seventh thriller is breathtakingly fast but not so fast that the engrossed (or grossed-out) reader would fail to experience the awfulness of heads in freezers, hearts in coolers, and victims in the double digits. Mayhem rules when a lunatic surgeon (but which one of three in the story?) preys on the peaceful folk of Portland, OR. A young lawyer finally gets enough of the puzzle pieces in place to guess the grim truth. The book is a selection of the Literary Guild, Doubleday Book Club, Mystery Guild, and BOMC, so there will be lots of publicity and long wait lists. It's a stunner, a chiller, and a tour de force from an author at the top of his form. For all popular collections. [Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 5/15/00.]DBarbara Conaty, Library of Congress (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.



Wild Justice Chapter One A lightning flash illuminated the Learjet that waited on the runway of the private airstrip moments before a thunderclap startled Dr. Clifford Grant. Grant scanned the darkness for signs of life, but there were no other cars in the lot and no one moving on the tarmac. When he checked his watch his hand trembled. It was 11:35. Breach's man was five minutes late. The surgeon stared at the glove compartment. A sip from his flask would steady his nerves, but he knew where that would lead. He had to be thinking clearly when they brought the money. Large drops fell with increasing speed. Grant turned on his wipers at the same moment a huge fist rapped on his passenger door. The doctor jerked back and stared. For an instant he thought the rain was distorting his vision; but the man glaring at him through the window was really that big, a monster with a massive, shaved skull and a black knee-length leather coat. "Open the door," the giant commanded, his voice harsh and frightening. Grant obeyed instantly. A chill wind blew a fine spray into the car. "Where is it?" "In the trunk," Grant said, the words catching in his throat as he jerked his thumb backward. The man tossed an attaché case into the car and slammed the door shut. Water beaded the smooth sides of the briefcase and made the brass locks glisten. The money! Grant wondered how much the recipient was going to pay for the heart, if he and his partner were receiving a quarter of a million dollars. Two rapid thumps brought Grant around. The giant was pounding on the trunk. He had forgotten to pop the release. As Grant reached for the latch another lightning flash lit the view through his rear window'and the cars that had appeared from nowhere. Without thinking, he floored the accelerator and cranked the wheel. The giant dove away with amazing agility as the sedan careened across the asphalt, leaving the smell of burning rubber. Grant was vaguely aware of the screech of metal on metal as he blasted past one of the police cars and took out part of a chain-link fence. Shots were fired, glass shattered and the car tipped briefly on two wheels before righting itself and speeding into the night. The next thing Clifford Grant remembered clearly was banging frantically on his partner's back door. A light came on, a curtain moved and his partner glared at him in disbelief before opening the door. "What are you doing here?" "The police," Grant gasped. "A raid." "At the airfield?" "Let me in, for God's sake. I've got to get in." Grant stumbled inside. "Is that the money?" Grant nodded and staggered to a seat at the kitchen table. "Let me have it." The doctor pushed the briefcase across the table. It opened with a clatter of latches, revealing stacks of soiled and crumpled hundred-dollar bills bound by rubber bands. The lid slammed shut. "What happened?" "Wait. Got to . . . catch my breath." "Of course. And relax. You're safe now." Grant hunched over, his head between his knees. "I didn't make the delivery." "What!" "One of Breach's men put the money on the front seat. The heart was in the trunk. He was about to open it when I saw police cars. I panicked. I ran." "And the heart is . . . ?" "Still in the trunk." "Are you telling me that you stiffed Martin Breach?" "We'll call him," Grant said. "We'll explain what happened." A harsh laugh answered him. "Clifford, you don't explain something like this to Breach. Do you understand what you've done?" "You have nothing to worry about," Grant answered bitterly. "Martin has no idea who you are. I'm the one who has to worry. We'll just have to return the money. We didn't do anything wrong. The police were there." "You're certain he doesn't know who I am?" "I never mentioned your name." Grant's head dropped into his hands and he began to tremble. "He'll come after me. Oh, God." "You don't know that for sure," his partner answered in a soothing tone. "You're just frightened. Your imagination is running wild." The shaking grew worse. "I don't know what to do." Strong fingers kneaded the tense muscles of Grant's neck and shoulders. "The first thing you've got to do is get hold of yourself." The hands felt so comforting. It was what Grant needed, the touch and concern of another human being. "Breach won't bother you, Clifford. Trust me, I'll take care of everything." Grant looked up hopefully. "I know some people," the voice assured him calmly. "People who can talk to Breach?" "Yes. So relax." Grant's head fell forward from relief and fatigue. The adrenaline that had powered him through the past hour was wearing off. "You're still tense. What you need is a drink. Some ice-cold Chivas. What do you say?" The true extent of Grant's terror could be measured by the fact that he had not even thought of taking a drink since he saw the police through his rear window. Suddenly every cell in his body screamed for alcohol. The fingers lifted; a cupboard door closed; Grant heard the friendly clink of ice bouncing against glass. Then a drink was in his hand. He gulped a quarter of the contents and felt the burn. Grant closed his eyes and raised the cold glass to his feverish forehead. "There, there," his partner said as a hand slapped smartly against the base of Grant's neck. Grant jerked upright, confused by the sharp sting of the ice pick as it passed through his brain stem with textbook precision. The doctor's head hit the tabletop with a thud. Grant's partner smiled with satisfaction. Grant had to die. Even thinking about returning a quarter of a million dollars was ridiculous. What to do with the heart, though? The surgeon sighed. The procedure to remove it had been performed flawlessly, but it was all for nothing. Now the organ would have to be cut up, pureed and disposed of as soon as Grant took its place in the trunk. Wild Justice . Copyright © by Phillip Margolin. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold. Excerpted from Wild Justice by Phillip Margolin All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.