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Woman with a Gun    by Phillip Margolin order for
Woman with a Gun
by Phillip Margolin
Order:  USA  Can
Harper, 2014 (2014)
Hardcover, CD, e-Book
* * *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

What I like about Phillip Margolin's excellent novels is that they are never the same; he has unusual breadth for a mystery author. And he demonstrates that once more in Woman With a Gun in which the whydunit is much more intriguing than the whodunit.

The mystery opens in 2015 New York City with young Stacey Kim, who has ambitions as a novelist but works as a law firm's receptionist in the meantime. In her lunch break, Stacey visits an art exhibit where she sees a black and white photograph of Woman with a Gun (a woman staring out to sea on a beach in her wedding dress, a six-shooter held behind her back). The image ignites Stacey's imagination - she needs to find out more in order to plot the novel she came to New York to write.

The story then moves back in time to 2005, when the picture was taken by acclaimed photographer Kathy Moran. Megan Cahill, the woman in the picture, had just married multimillionaire Raymond Cahill, who was found shot in their Palisades Heights beach house. Valuable items (coins, stamps and antique guns) were taken from the vault in the house. Did Megan do it, on her own or with an accomplice? She has concussion and amnesia and is in shock. Assistant attorney general Jack Booth is asked to look over the crime scene.

Turns out that Kathy Moran was walking on the beach when she took the soon to be famous picture. She and Jack have quite a history - once an attorney herself, she was forced to resign from the bar, became an addict, ended up in rehab, and then took a bar-tending job locally. Jack is still strongly attracted to her and follows up on it, despite her being a key witness in the case. Soon her photography career takes off.

Fast forwarding to the present, Stacey's interest in the photograph leads to her digging into the cold case, which takes her deeper and deeper into danger. There are more deaths before the smoking gun is discovered and this convoluted puzzle untangles. Woman with a Gun is a most intriguing read.

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