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Murder at Black Oaks

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Book Review: Murder at Black Oaks (Robin Lockwood #6) by Phillip Margolin
Published by St. Martin's Press and Minotaur Books, November 8, 2022

★★★★☆ (4.25 Stars)

Margolin does a Christie!

In its sixth iteration, author Phillip Margolin takes his strong female protagonist "Robin Lockheed" legal thriller series out on a little detour to the "Golden Age of Mysteries and Detective Fiction", that enduring literary era bannered by prominence of Dame Agatha Christie, Erle Stanley Gardner, and the master of the "impossible crime /locked room mystery", John Dickson Carr, inter-alia.

// Murder at Black Oaks (Robin Lockwood #6) (2022) by Phillip Margolin //

Portland, Oregon.
At the foot of the majestic Cascade mountain range. And off in the distance, Mount Hood and Mount St Helens.

This is the bailiwick of Robin Lockwood, attorney-at-law.

Five foot eight, ex-high school wrestler, ex-professional pay-per-view UFC cage fighter aka "Rockin' Robin", Yale Law graduate, ex-clerk at the Oregon Supreme Court, ex-associate of the "Sorceress", legendary criminal defense attorney Regina Barrister, and now partner at the firm, Barrister, Berman and Lockwood.

She's still reeling from her Aeschylus moment, one of the darkest hours of her life ("The Darkest Place", Book 5, 2021), a horrific personal and professional tragedy which shall have kept her sidelined for a long while, recuperating in the bosom of her family in Elk Grove.

Now she's back, with a new investigator, even as the Portland, Oregon law firm have themselves up to their eyeballs in case loads, trial preps, investigations and court appearances.

Once again, Phillip Margolin enthralls his readers with assiduous courtroom drama and dazzles with the finer points of the law: a case of habeas corpus, a case of the imminent danger exception to the attorney-client confidence, a statutes of limitation and Sixth Amendment right to counsel case, and finally, the firm's involvement with an "Innocence Project" initiative on behalf of a death row inmate.

The latter of which gets Robin Lockwood and the firm entangled with "Black Oaks"...

// It was a dark and stormy night.

A night of celebration. Victory for justice as an "Innocence Project" initiative heralds a hard-earned triumph: The exoneration of and freedom for one innocent man, after thirty years in death row.

A Portland, Ore. defense attorney and her ex-Navy Seal investigator find themselves in a gothic 17th century English manor, reputably cursed with an ominous lycanthropic legend, rebuilt brick by brick from its origins in Sexton, England, and set high on the foothills of the Cascade Range.

The pair join the manor's eccentric, disabled owner who is a wealthy, retired Portland D.A., along with a "Poirot-esque" cast of characters (or is it Marple-lesque?) including his daughter, his personal assistant, his household staff, a washed-out movie actor, an ambitious estate attorney, a newly-freed, wrongfully-convicted death row inmate, - and, in the course of the evening, a Portland policeman, who walks in out of the raging storm, drenched from head to toe.

As the festive evening winds down, someone is murdered in a creaky cage elevator, stabbed through the heart with a werewolf-themed dagger.

Then someone else is brutally bludgeoned to death... //

Creative. Deliciously retro in parts. A highly entertaining and unique legal thriller.

Review based on an advanced reading copy courtesy of St. Martin's Press, Minotaur Books and NetGalley.
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Murder at Black Oaks is a fun book that does exactly what author Phillip Margolin promises: pays tribute to the classic mystery writers who he began reading as a young teenager. Margolin brings together attorneys, an escaped criminal or two, a maid, a lovely assistant, a jealous daughter, an actor looking to reignite his career, and a former Navy SEAL in a huge hidden mansion in the Oregon mountains. Add in a few rainy days, mud slides, a criminal psychiatric hospital, and the lore of werewolves and readers will come away with a satisfying experience. Great book--perfect for people who like who-dun-its.
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This book started off VERY strong! I loved it!  The book just grabbed me and I was hooked. It's like a thriller, murder mystery and slightly horror rolled in one novel. That's 3 of my 4 favorite genres rolled in one!  SCORE!! It made me think of Agatha Chrisie novels! 

The MFC is a bad a$$ lawyer but could totally double as a detective. Her paralegal is a firecracker. Her investigator was retired military. 

This is number 6 in a series. It was so well written that I had no clue it was that far in the series until I went to Goodreads. So obviously,  this can be a stand alone book as well. Bonus points added for that aspect 😆 Also, I finished it in 2 days.  🤷🏻‍♀️ 

Sorry the review is kind of choppy. Four hours of sleep won't cut it 😆 

《Read》 《This》 《Book》 《If》
🔥 you like murder mysteries 
🔥 you want a kind of unqiue back story in your book
🔥 you like strong MFC in your books
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attorney Francis Hardy is forever haunted by his past professional life as a district attorney, both after being involved in the wrongful conviction of a young man, and receiving a confession from the actual criminal several years later. Hardy chooses to step down from practicing law when he realizes that he cannot go to the police with this revelation. instead, he hires attorney Robin Lockwood to help bring justice to this case.

as Robin becomes wrapped up in Hardy’s affairs, she is invited to his mansion alongside some questionable guests. here, she finds herself immersed in a whodunnit murder mystery stemming from a long ago curse attached to the mansion.

this book gives off strong Clue/Agatha Christie vibes with its locked-room mystery approach. I thought the actual murder mystery in the book was interesting, but the book itself was kinda all over the place. we have a trial to overturn a convicted murderer’s sentence, then we have a killer on the loose in the middle of the book, then the murders are solved, and THEN—we solve some more random cases afterwards! 

the many connections in this book were mostly lost on me. I feel like if you were to cut this book into specific parts, you’d never be able to tell that they were all intended to come together as one cohesive book. between the law & crime aspect, a murder mystery, and a historical curse intermixed, i just felt like there was a lot going on. while I did find the majority of this story interesting & engaging, i wouldn’t say it was the most gripping or memorable book I’ve ever read. 

thank you to @netgalley & @stmartinspress for my advanced reader’s copy of this book!
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Murder at Black Oaks
Robin Lockwood #6
By Phillip Margolin

Margolin’s writing is Clear, Descriptive and Direct


Robin Lockwood is a well known defense attorney practicing law in Portland, Oregon.  Frank Melville, a retired prosecutor and defense attorney, hires Robin to look at a murder case he had won as a prosecutor.  He knows he got it wrong and Jose Alvarez has been sitting on death row ever since. Jose is not the one who killed his college girlfriend, and Frank knows who did, but he is forbidden to talk about it due to attorney-client confidentiality. Can Robin get Jose off before it’s to late? 

If you haven’t met Robin Lockwood yet, you are missing out on an intelligent and amazing female literary character.  Murder at Black Oaks is part legal drama and part locked-room murder mystery, and Robin carries the day on both counts.  

Author Phillip Margolin says that Murder in Blacks Oaks is his homage to all of the great writers from the golden age of mysteries. Think Agatha Christie and Ellory Queen. Margolin says they inspired him to write a novel with an impossible murder, a haunted mansion, secret passages, and a werewolf curse, the wonderful ingredients that make those old mysteries so great.  This book has all that and more. Margolin's writing is clear, descriptive and direct, and his characters are intriguing.  Worth the read! 

Thanks to Netgalley for an advance reading copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. 

Publisher    Minotaur Books
Published   November 8, 2022
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I thoroughly enjoyed this fast-paced thriller. I haven’t read the other books in this series but having read this one, I am going to read them. The setting was perfect, an old mansion in a desolate setting that is a replica of a British mansion with many creepy legends attached to it. The owner of the mansion has an interesting backstory. He is a retired judge and former prosecutor. Finding that one of the cases he successfully prosecuted with a death penalty result was due to false evidence, it has haunted him to the point he could no longer practice law. Unfortunately, he was unable to bring the truth to light. With the death of the witness who gave false information, he hired Robin to clear the man’s name. Everyone involved needed to stay at the mansion as it was such a remote location. Many of the related characters were visiting at the same time. There were quite a few interesting storylines going on that were related to the judge, all unbeknownst to the others. When the judge is murdered, everyone in the house is under suspicion. The many twists and turns in this story made for a spectacular ending.
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This was a great read. There was never a dull moment. It's full of twists and turns. Interesting characters a edge of your seat thriller.
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This book was..interesting.

First of all I hated the way the author portrayed people with disabilities and disabilities sure did come up a lot in this book. I truly did not expect to read the word cr*pple multiple times in the year of our lord 2022 but here we are. Aside from specific offensive language, the man who used a wheelchair had never considered that someone like him could find love AND (SPOILER!!) the woman he fell in love with didn't actually love him but considered him an easy mark due to his disability. There were other disabled people in the book and other issues with the way it was handled but these were the ones that really stuck out to me and broke my immersion the most.

Plot-wise this book had the seeds to be good but had a lot going on (whilst seemingly not having a solid plot?). At the beginning I was interested to see what Mr. Melville would do about his guilty client and then the main character of the story changed to a new woman. 50% in the story finally had a murder and became a locked room mystery..that was pretty low-stakes because it was "resolved" (no arrests but the locked room element was over) by 75%. The last quarter of the book was focused on a subplot hinted at before the murder then finally unmasking the killer. I really enjoy locked room mysteries or thrillers with multiple seemingly distinct subplots that come together in the end, but this one felt more like a story that didn't know which one was the plot.

I did enjoy a couple of subplots because I was able to predict them, and I thought the story could have been really good, but I think this book would've been great if someone had given a different (not ableist) author the outline. I wish this had been a 5-star book and want to imagine how it could have been with a longer locked room element, more cohesiveness, and less problematic writing.

Plot- 3.5 stars
Characters- 3.5 stars
Writing- 1 star

Overall- 2.75 stars
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To have a MURDER AT BLACK OAKS, Phillip Margolin first takes us into the legal world where the victim worked for so many years.  This is book #6 in the Robin Lockwood series but could easily be a stand alone, maybe two as there are definitely two parts to this mystery.  

Part 1
Robin Lockwood has been tasked to investigate with an eye to exonerate a murder conviction that a retired DA now believes was wrong.  She is successful in her efforts,  All involved gather to guessed Black Oaks, a suppossed haunted mansion on the Oregon coast. 

Part 2
The retired DA has been murdered.  Now Robin must use all of her skills to find which of the many suspects used the cursed dagger to kill.  A locked room mystery that Margolin is famous for, the story moves quickly leaving few clues for the reader to see.  When the killer is identified, it's worth the race to the end.  5 stars easily given....
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What's it about (in a nutshell):
Murder at Black Oaks by Phillip Margolin is the sixth book in the Robin Lockwood series and works well as a stand-alone novel. This story is a locked room mystery in the cursed home of Blackwood Oaks in the Oregon mountains.

Initial Expectations (before beginning the book):
I love the setting described in the blurb and can't wait to read more about it. I also enjoy a locked room mystery and its challenges, so I'm excited about that aspect of the novel. However, I wonder if this will work well as a stand-alone since I haven't read the other five books in the series.

Actual Reading Experience:
I loved the setting, which I talk about more below and the solution to the mystery. The murderer was a complete surprise, and I thought the manner was ingenious but plausible. I do like to be wowed by creative locked-room murders!

I also love the Agatha Christie-ness of this story. The way the murder is solved, the reveal, and the writing technique are very reminiscent of my memory of an Agatha Christie novel. And who better to emulate in a murder mystery than the queen of murder mysteries.

However, I struggled with this story because of the odd side plots…yes, plural. I followed the story as Robin fought to get a man named Alvarez out of prison at the behest of Hardy. I even transitioned okay through the abrupt change to the locked room mystery plot. Where the story lost me was with the second wrongful imprisonment plot change before the murder was even solved. I felt I had missed something important in the story until I realized that the second wrongful imprisonment case was like a poorly timed interlude from the main plot. I love focused plots, and this definitely was not that.

Robin Lockwood is a female attorney who likes to compete in cage fights. Physically, she is undeniably strong. I would always bet on her in a physical battle, and she is very book-smart. However, I scratched my head at her lack of perception skills regarding those around her. She doesn't always seem like the best judge of people, and I couldn't figure out if that was a ploy or a genuine part of her character.

Narration & Pacing:
The narration is in the third person POV focusing on Robin Lockwood. It works very well for the style of writing the story is told using. The style reminded me of Agatha Christie's novels, though I must admit I haven't read one in many years. It did jog my memory of the different Christie novels I have read.

The pace stays remarkably quick, which surprised me due to the lack of thrills. The quickness is achieved through loads of suspense and short chapters, and I was thrilled with the pace.

The aspect I enjoyed the most in this story is the setting. It's perfect! I cannot imagine a setting that sparks the imagination more than this one, especially for the genre.

Black Oaks, a manor built in England in 1628, ended up razed due to a history of murder, supernatural events, and legendary curses. That did not stop Katherine Hardy from recreating it in the Oregon mountains, and it's said the curse followed it. It's a large home with all the secrets and mysteries often found in homes as old and as large as this one.

Read if you like:
•	A locked room mystery
•	legendary curses and supernatural notes
•	an incredible setting
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I just finished Murder at Black Oaks by Phillip Margolin A Robin Lockwood Novel (Book 6)

Robin, a brilliant lawyer and still reeling from the death of her fiance, is called to a meeting at the isolated home of Francis Melville, a former D.A with an impeccable record. 
Black oaks is not without its tragedy and there are rumors that spiral around the manor, about a legendary curse. 

Melville is in need of legal help he thinks Robin can help with. He once put a man, Jose, on death row for the murder of his girlfriend… Years later he finds out through attorney client privilege that the man he was representing actually killed Jose’s girlfriend and the guilt is enough to eat any man alive. Once the man dies, Frank realizes he can work now to try and get Jose freed, but he needs Robin's help.

After getting Jose released, Melville invites the team and Jose up to black oaks to celebrate. When he is then found murdered with a knife, linked to the original curse, Robin has a mismatched group of suspects and limited time to find out whodunnit.

I actually didn’t know this book was part of a series but it really didn’t matter. It holds up exceptionally well as a standalone in my opinion. The book was a little on the busy side, a lot going on but it didn’t take away from the enjoyability of the book. It has made me want to go back to the beginning and learn more about Robin because obviously the character building has been going on over a lot of books and I felt I did miss that a little bit.

I loved the location of the book and the little curse mixed in there was a lot of fun but it did seem a little incohesive with the storyline. I get what the author was trying to do but it didn’t really mesh so well for me.

Great twisty turny book was with solid writing but it wasn’t earth shattering. It was consistent and very entertaining. 
I can see why it’s a popular series and I will definitely read more from Robin Lockwood's continuing series. 

4 stars. I would have given one more star had the book been more intense. 

If you love a solid mystery that is excellently written, give this series a shot.

Thank you #netgalley and #StMartinsPress, #MinotaurBooks for my review copy
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I've been a fan of the Robin Lockwood series since day one and I have never been disappointed. #6 has an added element, an homage to the classic locked room mystery and the stately home setting. It checks all the boxes for me.
Robin is a partner in the firm of Barrister, Berman and Lockwood, a well respected law firm. She, too, has a sterling reputation. When she is asked to meet a former DA, Frank Melville, who needs her help getting a man off of death row, she journeys into the mountains outside of Portland to his secluded mansion, Black Oaks. The prime witness at the trial lied, big time but Melville had no way of changing the outcome. Now things have changed and he is asking Robin to find a way to free Jose Alverez, after 30 years on death row. That's the first part. She meets him at his home on top of Solitude mountain, an exact copy of a manor house dating to the 1600's complete with a very spooky vibe and a curse. His late wife loved the place but Frank, not so much but it keeps his wife's memory alive for him so he stays.
The rest of the mystery revolves around the celebration at Black Oaks for Jose Alverez, now a free man and the murder of Frank Melville. Was there a curse? I won't say any more for fear of spoilers. If you have never read any of the rest of the series, this works fine as a stand alone.
My thanks to the publisher Minotaur and to NetGalley for giving me an advance copy in exchange for my honest review.
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Book 6 will not disappoint…it’s fast paced and full of mystery…..when Robin is asked to help free an innocent man from prison.  It has a spooky mansion, a curse and so much more.  This author has a way of spinning a story to keep you hooked and coming back for more.
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This is a very light mystery that moves along at an okay  pace. I liked the storyline concept and the focus on righting wrongs. The atmospheric backdrop didn’t bother me too much either. But I felt the book was very much a surface read with little depth or complexity and the characters were pretty flat. I was struck by references to the main character wearing suits during her visits to Black Oaks with “a white satin blouse” in one instance and a “man tailored white shirt” in another. It didn’t sync with Oregon’s casual culture, especially up in the mountains. There were other references that felt off and bit dated. Unfortunately, I didn’t enjoy the book much and it wasn’t for me. Hopefully, other readers will appreciate it more. Many thanks to the author, publisher, and NetGalley for the opportunity to read and review this book.
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Thank you to Netgalley & the publisher for an advance readers copy in return for an honest review.  

In Phillip Margolin's Murder at Black Oaks, Attorney Robin Lockwood finds herself at an isolated retreat in the Oregon mountains, one with a tragic past and a legendary curse, and surrounded by many suspects and confronted with an impossible crime.

Defense Attorney Robin Lockwood is summoned by retired District Attorney Francis Melville to meet with him at Black Oaks, the manor he owns up in the Oregon mountains. The manor has an interesting history - originally built in 1628 in England, there's a murderous legend and curse attached to the mansion. Melville, however, wants Lockwood's help in a legal matter - righting a wrongful conviction from his days as a DA. A young man, Jose Alvarez, was convicted of murdering his girlfriend only for Melville, years later when in private practice, to have a client of his admit to the murder and to framing the man Melville convicted. Unable to reveal what he knew due to attorney client confidence, Melville now wants Lockwood's help in getting that conviction overturned.

Successful in their efforts, Melville invites Lockwood up to Black Oaks for a celebration. Lockwood finds herself among an odd group of invitees - including the bitter, newly released, Alvarez. When Melville is found murdered, with a knife connected to the original curse, Lockwood finds herself faced with a conundrum - who is the murder among them and how to stop them before there's another victim.

A good read, but very straight forward and has the feeling of being rehashed.   Will give another book in this series a try but didn't stand out to me.
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I love a closed door mystery that is dark and spooky. If you are a fan of that kind of novel this book is for you. You will fall down a rabbit hole trying to figure out who is killing at the guests at black oaks. Is it part of the curse ?

I love the main character Robin and the story of the convicted felon on death row. Jose. Will robin be able to help him on behalf of her client? Can she get him off death row? 

This book is a mix of a Scott Turow and a bit Agatha Christie. I will be reading more from this author from now on 

Thanks to netgalley and st martins press for this arc! I'll be sure to read more from this author
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While Murder at Black Oaks is the 6th book in the Robin Lockwood series, you don’t have to have read the previous books to be able to enjoy it, though I definitely recommend reading the entire series. (Heck, I recommend checking out all of Margolin’s work.) Robin Lockwood is definitely one of Margolin’s most unique characters to date: a former MMA champion turned lawyer, though this is not a straight up court room novel, more a haunted murder mystery. Without giving too much away I have to say the story of Murder at Black Oaks is wild and twisted. It features a wonderful setting— mostly taking place in a mansion in the mountains in Oregon—some wonderful tropes: a curse, an escapee from a state mental hospital, and of course murder, just to name a few. Seriously, there is a lot going on in the story. This is a great book to curl up with on the couch and escape reality for a while. Thanks so much to St. Martin’s Press and NetGalley for allowing me the opportunity to read and review an eARC of Murder at Black Oaks.
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I picked this book up because Phillip Margolin is an author I enjoy. Then I found that it is part of the Robin Lockwood series and I have read several others in the series and like the character and the situations she becomes involved in with her legal practice.

In this one, Robin is an attorney and she goes to meet a retired District Attorney, Frank Melville, at his home. He wants Robin to look into finding a way to free Jose Alvarez, who was convicted of killing his girlfriend. Melville had been the prosecutor in the case and later found out one of his clients was the killer - but he was bound by attorney/client privilege and could not ethically reveal his knowledge.

This is an intense situation and there's some courtroom drama. Then things turn dangerous when Melville is murdered in his home - a kind of spooky mansion with a curse. This is a fast paced mystery with good tension buildup. A good read!

Thanks to St. Martin's Press through Netgalley for an advance copy. This book will be published on November 8, 2022.
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Murder at Black Oaks by Phillip Margolin is the sixth installment of the Robin Lockwood series. I have never read any of this authors books, and I have not read any of this series either. Hopefully the previous books were better than this one. 
The premise of the story was what captured my attention to read this story, and it had a lot of potential to be great. Retired attorney Francis Melville learned that a previous client was falsely convicted of a murder by another client he represented. Knowing his hands were tied in trying to help Jose Alverez he hires Robin Lockwood to set him free. If this was the only plot in the story that she was solving and how she got there it would have made sense. When she meets up with Melville, and he turns up dead with a knife from a past curse, the story seems to go off the rails. It became confusing on the different plots and characters that were added to draw out the story. There were twists and turns, but not enough to keep me interested.
It wasn't a bad read since I do not know how the previous books were written. I would only give it a chance if you have tried this author before than it would probably make more sense with the lead character Robin Lockwood. I would only recommend if wanting a lighthearted read
Thanks to NetGalley and Minotaur Books for the early copy.

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This was my first book by Phillip Margolin. I went into it without having any idea about the author's style of writing. It is also part of a series, but I was able to pick up this story without reading the other books. I was hooked immediately & enjoyed the mystery immensely. I loved Robin Lockwood. She is a fantastic character. I liked the setup of this murder mystery. There were plenty of suspects & enough twists to keep you guessing. The story had a satisfying ending. I am now a fan & will definitely be reading the other books by this author. I received an advance copy from NetGalley & am voluntarily leaving a review.
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