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Executive Privilege    by Phillip Margolin order for
Executive Privilege
by Phillip Margolin
Order:  USA  Can
HarperCollins, 2008 (2008)
Hardcover, CD, e-Book

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* *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

Phillip Margolin's Executive Privilege reminded me a little of the movie Murder at 1600 in its depiction of killings with tendrils into the White House, and the subsequent roadblocks put up for the police investigation. However, the storyline is quite different, with constant action that's in no way limited to Washington, D.C..

It begins with what seems like a routine surveillance job for PI Dana Cutler - who had worked as an undercover cop until the biker gang subjects of her investigation found out who she was and tortured and raped her, leaving her traumatized. Dana is shocked to find that the young woman she is following - attractive college student Charlotte Walsh - has a rendezvous with U.S. President Christopher Farrington. She's even more shocked the next day when she learns that Charlotte was murdered that same evening. Unfortunately, the Secret Service knows who Dana is, having noted her license plate as she drove off. Soon she's on the run. The President has asked his close friend, ex-army Ranger Charles Hawkins, to fix the problem, wanting to avoid bad publicity, especially in light of his wife Claire's pregnancy.

In parallel with Dana's flight from minions of the establishment, we meet Brad Miller, a junior associate in Oregon's largest law firm. Brad is assigned by Dragon Lady Susan Tuchman (a close friend of the President) the pro bono case of an appeal by convicted serial killer Clarence Little. On death row, Little claims that a teenager who babysat for the Farringtons when she was killed (Christopher Farrington was then Oregon's governor) was not one of his many victims. Though Little offers proof that he could not have done this particular foul deed, Tuchman forbids Brad from taking it further. But, egged on by another junior associate Ginny Striker (with whom he soon develops a romantic relationship) Brad risks his career to uncover the truth.

A third major plot strand involves FBI Agent Keith Evans, who's heading a task force tracking down a serial killer dubbed the D.C. Ripper. Though it is initially assumed that the Ripper killed Charlotte Walsh, Evans - who's soon seconded to an independent counsel's investigation of the President's potential involvement in the Walsh case - uncovers anomalies that set him on Dana's trail, and eventually lead him to Brad as well. See where this is going? You may think you do, but don't assume the obvious, as Phillip Margolin has surprises up his sleeve for readers right to the end of this shocking thriller.

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