Reviews for Murder at Black Oaks

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A former prosecutor haunted by his role in the unjust conviction of a murder suspect years ago summons noted attorney Robin Lockwood to his isolated Oregon manse to enlist her aid. What could possibly go wrong? Archie Stallings was the star witness against fellow student Jose Alvarez in 1990, when Alvarez was sentenced to death in the matter of his girlfriend Margo Prescott's fatal bludgeoning. Seven years later, a gloating confession that Stallings makes to the lawyer defending him against a rape charge, Frank Melville—whose ringing courtroom speech when he was a prosecutor sent Alvarez to death row—torments Melville, since attorney-client privilege demands his silence. Upon Stallings’ own death, Melville resolves to do whatever it takes to win Alvarez’s release. Working under his direction with investigator Ken Breland, Robin gets Alvarez’s conviction overturned, and he’s set free. But he’s not grateful or happy about his invitation to Black Oaks, Melville’s mountaintop retreat, which has its own dark history of murder. When Corey Rockwell, the fading Hollywood star Melville’s invited to join them, ostensibly to discuss making a film based on the Alvarez case, begins to smell a rat, the stage is set for Melville’s stabbing in his private elevator. Margolin steeps this impossible murder in a nostalgic brew of family curses, ancient grudges, escaped convicts, improbable masquerades, supplementary homicides, and other contrivances. Fans will rejoice to detect echoes of Agatha Christie’s And Then There Were None, Ellery Queen’s The Siamese Twin Mystery, and countless puzzles by John Dickson Carr, though they may find the net effect more like a scrapbook of beloved memories than a coherent narrative of contemporary murder. An unapologetic valentine to golden age whodunits that sports its clichés as proudly as badges. Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.