The Burning Man by Phillip Margolin


Reviewed by Allen Hott

Kind of a combination of lawyering, murdering, and many other things to keep the reader involved. Peter Hale is a young attorney who while working for his father kind of screws up a case. The attorney father heads up a prestigious firm and is so upset with his son’s mistake that he chases him from the firm. He does set Peter up, however, with a job as a public defender in a very small town working for a very small law firm. Peter is torn at first as to whether to even accept the job or get into a completely different field.

However when he gets to his new job and meets the owner/lawyer who he will be working for he is stupefied! It turns out the job he will be doing is as a criminal lawyer. He is used to working on business deals etc. not chasing down and defending people who broke the law by some criminal deed. However he takes on the challenge and strives to show his father he can do it.

When he gets settled in his new home and assignment he meets up with a former law student that he knew from his college days. Steve Mancini is practicing law in Whitaker and is engaged to a lady named Donna Harmon. Donna has a teenaged brother, Gary, who is slightly retarded and lives by himself while working as a janitor at the college. These three individuals each play a large part in Peter’s life and in the entire story.

One night as Peter is out walking and learning more about the city, he runs into a policeman who is about to arrest Gary for peeping into some dormitory windows at the college. Peter intercedes and manages to get Gary released and in fact becomes his attorney. This becomes major later in the story.

Drugs and murders pretty well take over the balance of the story. And several people seem to be getting into the action on both of these counts.

It all blends together to end up in a court room battle with Peter on one side trying hard to defend his client against some made up charges. There are more characters involved and more acts that cause the story to move back and forth. However Peter gets involved in all of them and helps move the action along.

Overall Margolin has put together an interesting story with lots of legal happenings, crime events, and even some romantic (a small amount) moments. It is a good read and holds the readers’ interests all the way to the end.