Fugitive: A Novel
by Phillip Margolin
Review by Steve Sawicki
Harper Hardcover ISBN/ITEM#: 9780061236235
Date: 01 June 2009 List Price $26.99 Amazon US / Amazon UK / Show Official Info /
Charlie Marsh is a con man, a petty criminal and an all around loser. He is both more and less than what he seems to be. He gets credit for saving a warden during a prison riot but it is not long after his release that he is wanted for the murder of a Congressman. He flees to the small African nation of Batanga where he becomes the plaything of Jean-Claude Baptiste, the nation's dictator. Charlie continues to make bad decisions, having an affair with the trophy wife of the dictator. Baptiste finds out and this makes coming back to the US to face the still pending murder charge seem like a pretty good thing to do for Charlie.
Amanda Jaffe is a criminal lawyer who ends up with Charlie. She is tasked with not only finding out everything she can about him and the case but in making sure he survives for trial. This is no easy task as Baptiste has a long reach and some nasty people working for him. It doesn't help that Charlie himself is not much help, either through his own ignorance or his reluctance to be straight about everything. The clock is ticking and the odds of Charlie Marsh making it to trial are getting worse by the minute.
Phillip Margolin has produced another page turner. You would not think, given the characters he has chosen to work with that he'd be able to create a plot that was of much interest to anyone. However, just like he did in Executive Privilege, Margolin deftly weaves his way through chases, improbable circumstances, and enough intrigue to fill a small house. The story roams from Africa to Oregon and there are no few small surprises in store as well. The writing is direct, the pacing superb and the story top notch. Margolin has done it again.
I really liked this book. I like the way that Margolin develops his characters, including the sleazy ones, moving everyone through a logical progression of behaviors. I like that he does not produce a pat ending or provide easy answers, either for his characters or for the readers. I like that he maintains a pace that is tuned to the plot, fast where it needs to be and slower where appropriate. Most of all I like the way he moves the entire plot forward from the first page through the last page. Margolin is one heck of a writer and I, for one, am looking forward to seeing more from him. Highly recommended.