Defense attorney Doug Weaver believes his client, Jacob Cohen, is innocent—but the forensic evidence proves beyond the shadow of a doubt that the meek, mentally ill homeless man killed and dismembered a woman . . .
Hired to defend gangster Art Prochaska against charges that he murdered an informer, lawyer Amanda Jaffe and her father, Frank, have their work cut out for them—because, as improbable as it seems, the forensic clues scream that Prochaska is guilty . . .
And now people are dying inexplicably—as Amanda and Doug join forces to find answers hidden somewhere in the darkest corners of crime scene investigation, where a god-playing madman holds the lethal power to alter the truth.
Related collections and offers
About the Author
Phillip Margolin has written nineteen novels, many of them New York Times bestsellers, including his latest novels Woman with a Gun, Worthy Brown’s Daughter, Sleight of Hand, and the Washington trilogy. Each displays a unique, compelling insider’s view of criminal behavior, which comes from his long background as a criminal defense attorney who has handled thirty murder cases. Winner of the Distinguished Northwest Writer Award, he lives in Portland, Oregon.
Place of Birth:New York, New York
Education:B.A. in Government, American University, 1965; New York University School of Law, 1970
Read an Excerpt
By Phillip Margolin
HarperCollins Publishers, Inc.Copyright © 2006 Phillip Margolin
All right reserved.
If you looked up the word "pathetic" in the dictionary, you might find a picture of Vincent Ballard. Ballard had not always been pathetic. At one point in his life, he had been considered brilliant and dynamic. That era had coincided with the dot-com bubble, when Vincent was making more money than he could count as a partner in an Internet start-up that could not miss. In those days, Vincent rode the tiger; hell, he had tamed the tiger and turned it into a pussycat.
Before he became rich, people described Vincent, with his Coke-bottle glasses, acne, and unkempt hair, as a skinny nerd who couldn't get even ugly girls to give him a second look. By the nineties, Vincent was wearing contact lenses and handmade suits from London, collecting sports cars like baseball cards, and kicking one centerfold-quality babe out of his bed as soon as another luscious cutie made his cocaine-powered dick rise.
Then the bubble burst. Overnight, Vincent's stock options didn't add up to the price of a Starbucks latte. But, hey, no problem. Vincent wasn't worried. He was so high all the time that reality had become irrelevant. Was he not the brilliant, sexy Vincent Ballard, brain and stud extraordinaire? So what if his company went under? He'd get a new ideaand soon he'd be rolling again. There was only one problem; drugs had messed up Vincent's mind so badly that the idea part of his brain was now as limp as his dick.
Drug habits are expensive. Vincent sold the sports cars and his collection of fine wines. He downsized from his two-million-dollar home to a one-bedroom apartment in Portland's fashionable Pearl District. Five years after his company went under, he couldn't make the rent anymore. Now he lived in a residential motel in a single room that smelled like beer, stale pizza, and garbage; and he worked at minimum-wage jobs when he could scam the drug tests.
A few months before he met Juan Ruiz, Vincent had been busted for possession and given probation on the condition that he enroll in a county drug program. Vincent had graduated summa cum laude and was as clean as a whistle. His probation officer had even helped him land a halfway decent job at a software company.
Vincent had kicked the habit several times before. During the early days of cleanliness, he was always euphoric. This time was no different. Vincent knew that soon he would be back in the land of Armani and Porsche. Then he had the predictable clash with his supervisor, which led to his early exit from employment, followed by depression and the inevitable reunion with Mr. H.
A few weeks after he started using again, Vincent's connection was arrested. Vincent badly needed a fix, and he learned through the junkie grapevine about a new source for the Mexican black-tar heroin he craved. Juan Ruiz was dealing in Old Town. Since he was selling and Vincent was buying, Ruiz was higher up the food chain than his customer, but not by much. When Vincent spotted Ruiz, the emaciated pusher was dancing from foot to foot to cope with the cold and damp, and his eyes were continually shifting as he scanned the dark, deserted streets for cops.
"Are you Juan?" Vincent asked nervously. He was twitchy and needed his fix.
"What you want, bro?"
"Toby told me your stuff is good."
"My shit is the best," Ruiz said. "Show me some money and you can see for yourself."
Vincent pulled out a handful of crumpled bills, and Ruiz spit out a balloon. If Vincent had been a cop, he would have swallowed it.
"Where you been buying?" Juan asked as he counted the bills.
"Around, you know."
All junkies are paranoid, so Vincent was intentionally vague.
"Well, you buy from me and I'll treat you right. Our shit's cheaper, too," he added, holding out two bills.
"A rebate, amigo. There's a new man in town. He wants to treat you right. We got the best shit and the cheapest. You come to me. Don't go to no other dealers. Spread the word."
A light went on in one of the few areas of Vincent's brain that were still working. Martin Breach ran the drug business in Portland, but rumor had it that a Colombian cartel was trying to cut into his territory. Breach was not known for being a good sport or a gracious loser, and the word on the street was that he was giving drugs and money to anyone providing information about dealers who were working for Felix Dorado, the cartel's front man.
Back at the motel, Vincent shot up. First things first. But what goes up must come down. Vincent knew that he'd need to score again soon, but he couldn't afford another hit. When he was able to get out of bed, he walked up the street to Lombardi's. The bar stank of sweat and cheap beer, and catered to people like Vincent. Martin Breach owned it.
Twenty minutes after Vincent convinced the bartender that he had some information Mr. Breach would be interested in hearing, the door opened, and two men walked over to the wooden booth where the bartender had told Vincent to wait. Vincent had once been a businessman, and this was business. He slicked down his hair as best he could, squared his shoulders, and stood up.
"Vincent Ballard," he said, offering his hand. Neither man took it. After a few seconds, Vincent felt ridiculous, and his hand dropped to his side.
"Sit down," Charlie LaRosa said as he slid in across from Ballard. LaRosa had a square face with dark, flat eyes that made him look very intimidating, so Vincent was surprised by how gentle he sounded.
Vincent sat on the bench, and the other man squeezed in beside him, forcing Vincent against the wall and cutting off all avenues of escape. The man smelled of aftershave and had thick, greasy hair and long sideburns. . . .
Excerpted from Proof Positive by Phillip Margolin Copyright © 2006 by Phillip Margolin. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.