The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

July 18, 2008

Book review: Action-filled plot drives 'Executive Privilege'

‘Executive Privilege’

By Phillip Margolin (compact disc audiobook)

Phillip Margolin’s latest political thriller takes you inside the White House to the highest office in the land.

Dana Cutler, a private detective in Washington, D.C., gets an assignment from a prominent attorney with political connections to tail Charlotte Walsh. Her assignment is pretty boring until the night she takes pictures of the pretty college student and a man at a secret romantic meeting at a cabin in the woods. Dana narrowly escapes getting caught by the Secret Service and realizes that her life may be in danger when she discovers that the man that Charlotte met was Chris Farrington, President of the United States. Charlotte’s body is discovered the next day, and the murder is attributed to a serial killer active in the D.C. area.

Chris Farrington is a former governor of Portland, Ore., where Brad Miller, a young lawyer in huge law firm, is given a case to investigate — that of a convicted serial killer on death row. The serial killer has confessed to several murders, but he’s indignant and insists he is being framed for a murder he didn’t commit, that of a teenager who baby-sat for the Farringtons when she was killed. He provides Brad with the information necessary to prove his innocence in the murder.

The president is up for re-election but he feels the heat when a tabloid prints a story with Dana’s pictures. Both Dana and Brad believe that the president is somehow implicated in at least these two murders, but how is it possible for the president to slip out of the White House to murder someone?

Margolin uses believable characters, action-filled plots, and a surprise ending in his fast-paced thriller. The narrator, Jonathan Davis, is skilled at differentiating the multiple characters and delivers a solid performance. In addition to the multiple compact disc set, “Executive Privilege” is also available in regular print and the Playaway edition at the Joplin Public Library.

‘Lady Killer’

By Lisa Scottoline (compact disc audiobook)

Mary DiNunzio, a good Catholic girl with Italian roots, is an attorney with the law firm Rosato & Associates of South Philadelphia. She is representing her father and his buddies against an old lady from “The Neighborhood” in an argument over Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin; trying to help a frantic mother and her disabled young son; harboring a dark secret from her past; and has a new romance in her life.

Mary’s life is complicated enough already, and she is stunned when former classmate Trish Gambone appears in her office demanding her help. Mary and Trish were never friends in school — in fact, Mary refers to Trish and Trish’s friends as the “mean girls.” Trish tells Mary that she fears for her life. Trish’s abusive boyfriend who has threatened her is gangster drug-dealer Bobby Mancuso. He and Mary dated briefly in high school but she doesn’t tell Trish.

Mary offers solutions to her problems but they don’t interest Trish and she storms out of Mary’s office. When she vanishes the next day, the “mean girls,” Trish’s mother, and several others in “The Neighborhood” blame Mary for Trish’s disappearance. Mary decides to track Trish down before it’s too late. Then someone discovers a body in a dark alley behind Bobby’s “business” and Mary wonders if it already too late to help Trish.

“Lady Killer” is the latest in the series featuring Mary and the Rosato & Associates characters. It’s a fun, suspenseful mystery filled with adventure, quirky characters and snappy, humorous dialog. It reminds me of Janet Evanovich’s Stephanie Plum series except that “Lady Killer” has a little less humor and more mystery. The narrator, Barbara Rosenblat, does a wonderful job of conveying the humor and making the characters unique. The regular print edition of “Lady Killer” is also available at the Joplin Public Library.

Phyllis Seesengood is the technical services librarian at Joplin Public Library.