Review of Executive Privilege by Phillip Margolin
Overview from www.bn.com: To private detective Dana Cutler, her latest assignment almost seems like child’s play. She has been hired by an attorney to tail college student Charlotte Walsh on her daily rounds. Everything moves along predictably, until one night the pretty young miss scurries off to a very private meeting with the president of the United States. And to make matters worse, Charlotte is found dead the next morning, transforming Cutler almost overnight from hunter into hunted. Fast-breaking, nonstop action; memorable protagonists.
Executive Privilege follows most of the conventions that make up political thrillers. Of course someone rich and/or powerful features in the plot while getting away with a big crime. The everyman character who is just trying to survive or do the right thing must stop this person from getting away as well as keep him or herself alive. Then of course there is the danger that our main characters will be disgraced or even killed before having the chance to have the truth come out with proof to back it up.
This book has all that and more. Here we have two people who must prove their theories that the President of the United States is a serial murder as well as a seducer of underage girls. One is a lawyer recently hired by a prestigious law firm whose boss foists a strange pro bono case on behalf of a convicted serial killer. The second is a private detective who ends up tailing one of the murder victims to a meeting with the President.
The rich and powerful include the President and his wife of course as well as a staff that is fiercely loyal to him. This President is running for reelection when his picture is snapped by our investigator Dana Cutler whilst he is engaged in a compromising situation with Charlotte Walsh. With a small, private, and untraceable mini army at his disposal, this President will do whatever it takes to silence Dana permanently.
Meanwhile, Brad, the lawyer is in Oregon at the behest of his boss Susan Tuchman, aka the Dragon Lady, is investigating a possible loop-hole in the conviction of a serial killer. The killer is miffed that one of the murders he is charged with is not one of his and he wants his name cleared. Though Brad thinks it is a waste of time, he must follow through or face the wrath of his boss.
As Brad’s investigation proceeds, he comes to the startling conclusion that his client is right and he later gets the evidence together to prove it. Unfortunately the evidence soon implicates the President of the United States and he is forced into hiding too.
I will start with the negatives of the story as I see them. The sex in the story is a bit graphic at times and the f bomb appears too many times for my taste. Also, it is another story about Washington D.C. I realized it is a legal thriller but when am I going to see one in London or Copenhagen or even St. Louis? I am tired of D. C. I guess I lived there just a little too long. I know I got tired of hearing about the President even then. I am just not political person, I guess.
The positives are many but the best one is the description. I love the way this guy writes his description. My favorite passage of description involves the introduction of Brad’s boss. The tiny bit of back story I get here tells me exactly what kind of woman Brad is dealing with. Here is how it reads.
“The senior partner was wearing a black Armani pants suit with a white silk blouse and a necklace of black pearls. She was forty-nine but she’d been a partner for ten years as a result of a series of victories for a pharmaceutical client and a tobacco company. Tuchman’s first husband had been an associate at another firm but she had divorced him rather than set up a situation where an opponent from her husband’s firm could move to have her taken off a case on grounds of conflict of interest. A second, tempestuous marriage to a federal judge had lasted only as long as it took Tuchman to process the difference in the income contributions to their join bank account.” P. 61
Other pluses include the great story line which seems both exciting and more plausible than that of many other thrillers that I have read in the past. And although the swear words are still there, they are not as numerous as they are in other thrillers as well.
I think readers will find it worth a look, particularly if you don’t mind reading about D.C. and politicians as much as I do.
Contains: some graphic violence, sex, and language.