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I have enjoyed Phillip Margolin’s legal thriller set in current times but this is a very different book for Margolin. This a historical novel set in 1860 Portland Oregon. Margolin states that he loosely based the story on a true legal case in 1861 Portland. According to Margolin when Oregon wrote its state constitution it did not allow black people to settle in Oregon but those there prior to statehood could stay and own land. The real case had a black family that was slaves to a white man. When statehood passed he freed the parents and one child but kept the other children as servants. The parents sued for their children to be freed and returned to them and they won the case. In this book Margolin has a black man freed after statehood but the slave owner Caleb Barbour an attorney refused to release his 14 year old daughter. Mr. Worthy Brown contacted attorney Mr. Penny to sue for her freedom. There are several plots going on at the same time and they all come together at the end of the book. Margolin has a knack for storytelling. This book is a fast, absorbing read and Margolin’s law expertise makes the book’s climax, a courtroom battle very realistic and exciting. The ending of the book is interesting and exciting. Phillip Margolin is a criminal defense attorney who has become a novelist so the legal aspect of the story is realistic. February is National Black month so this story about slavery in Oregon in 1960 is a perfect topic to read this month. Jason Culp did an excellent job narrating the book.
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