Feb 5 2018 2:00pm

Phillip Margolin Excerpt: The Third Victim

Phillip Margolin

The Third Victim by Phillip Margolin is the first book in a new series of legal thrillers from the “master of heart-pounding suspense” (available March 6, 2018).

Read this exclusive early excerpt of The Third Victim, then make sure you're signed in and comment below for a chance to win a copy of this captivating legal thriller!

A woman stumbles onto a dark road in rural Oregon―tortured, battered, and bound. She tells a horrific story about being kidnapped, then tortured, until she finally managed to escape. She was the lucky one―two other women, with similar burns and bruises, were found dead.

The surviving victim identifies the house where she was held captive and the owner, Alex Mason―a prominent local attorney―is arrested. Although he loudly insists upon his innocence, his wife’s statements about his sexual sadism and the physical evidence found at the scene, his summer home, is damning.

Regina Barrister is a legendary criminal defense attorney, known as “The Sorceress” for her courtroom victories. But she’s got a secret, one that threatens her skill, her reputation, and, most of all, her clients. And she’s agreed to take on the seemingly impossible task of defending Alex Mason.

Robin Lockwood, a young lawyer and former MMA fighter, has just left a clerkship at the Oregon Supreme Court to work for Regina Barrister. The Alex Mason trial is her first big one, a likely death penalty case, and she’s second chair to Regina. Increasingly, she’s worried her boss’s behavior and the details in the case against their client don’t quite add up.


Caleb White slowed his pickup as soon as he spotted the DEER CROSSING sign at the side of the two-lane country road. Caleb had lived his whole life in Whisper Lake and he always slowed down when he saw it. The city dwellers, who only came out a few weeks a year, usually ignored the sign and sped on, but there were no lights on this heavily forested stretch, and when Caleb was eight years old, a three-hundred-pound buck had bounded out of the forest and totaled the family car.

A burst of static from the radio momentarily distracted Caleb just as something staggered out of the forest and into the road. He jammed on his brakes and the pickup fishtailed. If he hadn’t slowed down, he might not have been able to stop in time. As it was, the truck ended up sideways and Caleb found himself slumped over the steering wheel, his heart in overdrive. He closed his eyes for a second to calm down. Then he peered out of the passenger window. It was pitch-black and he couldn’t see a thing.

Caleb backed the truck onto the shoulder. As he turned, the headlights panned over a body sprawled on the road. He put on his warning lights and jumped out of the cab. A woman was laying on her stomach, her legs bare and the tail of her blouse barely covering her panties.

“Miss, are you okay?” Caleb asked as he walked toward her.

The woman stirred, then weakly pushed herself up onto her hands and knees. She lifted her head and stared at Caleb through strands of long, unwashed, uncombed brown hair.

“Help me,” she begged.

“It’s okay,” Caleb said as he drew closer and got his first clear view. There was duct tape around the woman’s wrists and ankles, her face was caked with blood, and her legs were scratched and bruised. The blouse was torn in several places and it hung open. Caleb took off his jacket. He was almost to her when the stench of urine, feces, and body odor stopped him in his tracks.

“Please,” she pleaded. Caleb moved.

“I’ll get you to a hospital,” he assured the woman as he draped the coat across her shoulders. Then he grabbed her under her arms and helped her stand. As she rose, the blouse parted, revealing burn marks and cuts on the woman’s ribs and breasts.

Caleb pulled his eyes away and eased the woman onto the passenger seat. As soon as he shut her door, she slumped against it. Caleb headed for town and speed-dialed his cousin.

“Yeah?” Harry said.

“It’s Caleb. I’m on the way to the hospital with a girl.”

“What happened?!”

“It’s not like that. You should meet me at the hospital. This girl … She came out of the forest and she’s hurt. I think someone did something to her. Something real bad.”

Whisper Lake, population 2,074, was the county seat of Hammond County, population 17,039. The population was artificially inflated during the summer, when the rich city folk who owned the cabins that ringed the lake and the tourists who stayed at the Whisper Lake Resort came to town. But as soon as school started, the population plummeted and the only tourists who remained were the avid fly fishermen who sloshed through the Bear Run River and the hunters who stalked the woods during deer season.

The cops in Hammond County didn’t have much to do most of the year. If it wasn’t for the universal staples of lawlessness—speeding, domestic violence, and bar fights—the deputies in the Hammond County Sheriff’s Office would be sitting around all day playing video games or talking sports. That is why Caleb White’s call induced an adrenaline rush in his cousin.

Harry White, a former high school quarterback and marine, was thirty-one years old. He had curly black hair, a straight nose, blue eyes, and a dark complexion. When Harry arrived at the hospital, the EMTs were lifting the young woman onto a gurney. He went over to Caleb.

“What happened?”

Caleb was upset, and it took a few minutes for Harry to understand what had occurred on the country road.

“You stay in the waiting room,” Harry told his cousin. “Stan’s on the way and he’ll take your statement. Okay?”


“You all right?”

“Not really.”

Harry laid a hand on Caleb’s shoulder and gave it a squeeze.

“You done a good deed tonight,” he said before following the gurney into the hospital. The EMTs rolled the woman into an examining room. Harry started to follow, but Dr. Nicholas Hayes, a hunting buddy, told Harry to wait outside while he examined the girl.

Harry paced the hall for twenty minutes before Hayes came out. The doctor looked grim.

“How is she, Nick?” Harry asked.

“She’s been beaten, tortured, and starved, so not good.”

“Will she recover? Is there any permanent damage?”

“With time, she’ll heal physically. It’s her mental state I’m worried about.”

“Did she tell you her name?”

“It’s Meredith Fenner.”

“Did she say who did this to her?”

“I didn’t ask. I figured that was your department.”

“Can I talk to her?”

“Yes, but make it short. As soon as you’re done, I’m going to give her a sedative so she can get some rest.”

Harry opened the door. Meredith’s eyes fixed on him. She looked terrified. Her black eyes, broken nose, and split lip were evidence of a savage beating, and it took an effort for Harry to keep from showing emotion.

Harry held up his shield. “Miss Fenner, my name is Harry White and I’m a detective with the Hammond County Sheriff’s Office. Do you feel up to answering a few questions? I’ll make this short, but I want to start tracking down the person who did this to you.”

“I … I don’t want to talk about it. Please.”

Harry walked over to the bed. “I can understand that. But we need to find the person who assaulted you.”

Meredith turned her face away. “I can’t.”

“Can you at least tell me if it was a man or a woman? Was there one person or more than one?”

“A … a man. One man.”

“Can you describe him?”

“Not now, please. I … I don’t want to think about what … what he did to me.”

Harry wanted to push a little more, but he held himself in check. He tried to imagine what Meredith had gone through, and he decided that the best gift he could give her was peace and quiet.

Copyright © 2018 Phillip Margolin.

Comment below for a chance to win a signed ARC of The Third Victim by Phillip Margolin!

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The Third Victim Comment Sweepstakes: NO PURCHASE NECESSARY TO ENTER OR WIN.  A purchase does not improve your chances of winning.  Sweepstakes open to legal residents of 50 United States, D.C., and Canada (excluding Quebec), who are 18 years or older as of the date of entry.  To enter, complete the “Post a Comment” entry at beginning at 2:00 p.m. Eastern Time (ET) February 5, 2018. Sweepstakes ends 1:59 p.m. ET February 13, 2018. Void outside the United States and Canada and where prohibited by law. Please see full details and official rules here. Sponsor: Macmillan, 175 Fifth Ave., New York, NY 10010.


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Phillip Margolin has written over twenty novels, most of them New York Times bestsellers, including Gone But Not Forgotten, Lost Lake, and Violent Crimes. In addition to being a novelist, he was a long time criminal defense attorney with decades of trial experience, including a large number of capital cases. Margolin lives in Portland, Oregon.

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Gary Anderson
1. gwander
I love everything Phillip Margolin as done. This excerpt has me hooke and I am going to read this when it comes out on March 6th!
Joyce Benzing
2. zsteelie
I’m a fan of Phillip Margolin as well.
3. Monty Strauss
His books are all great.
4. Diane Hall
Can't wait for the rest!
5. Dax
Love Margolin’s books
6. Mysterylover
Great suspenseful start. Can't wait to read it.
Jennifer Hodges
8. ViolinGeek
Sounds like a page turner that will keep me up half the night when I should be sleeping!
Sally Schmidt
10. bigcootie
Another Phillip Margolin book is always a treat. I am hooked already.
12. Toni Laliberte
Thanks for the chance to win a copy! This book sounds awesome!
Jill Dark
13. Jillybeans2
As a huge and long time fan of Phillip Margolin i can't wait to read The Third Victim. Thanks for the opportunity to win a copy!
14. Julie Caldwell
I am so excited to get my hands on this book! I have been a fan for years. I would say I own most Margolin books but majority have been loaned out. Can’t wait to dive into a new one!
15. Marianne Neal
Looking forward to a new series by a master.
16. Kathy Miracle
Cant wait to read the rest of the book Good luck everyone
jayne Wessels
18. jisaw
A new series by Phillip Margolin is a real treat. Can't wait to read it!
20. AmandaM
Can't wait to read this one!
26. davndan
I'm hooked just from that little excerpt! I hope to win a copy to put at the front of my TBR list and leave a review of on Goodreads and Amazon.
30. EBF
Intriguing! Can't wait for the book to come out to the general public.
32. Todd Vanrooyen
I always wait in eager anticipation when a new Margolin book comes out... You know that feeling when Mom promises to take you to the store and get you what you have been hounding her about forever? Yeah, that’s me, cyberpacing back and forth just waiting for the oppprtunity to buy the new Margolin book.

Stomach turning anticipation.... IS IT MARCH 6 YET?!
Shirley Evans
35. Shirls11
Love, love this author. Margolin is one of the great mystery writers. This first chapter has me totally intrigued. Thanks for a chance to win a copy!
Michael Carter
37. rubydog
Yes, please enter me in this sweepstakes.
Thanks ---
Joan Weinert
39. joanw
Sounds like another great read. Can't wait to read this one!!!!! Hope
I get a copy!
pat murphy
40. pwhitby
Hope to win . thank you for the chance to win .
42. Susan Baumann
Wow!! Great read.
44. mprimo1
Looking forward to reading. Thanks for the chance to win a copy.
lynette thompson
I love thrillers, this sound like a good one. This is a winner.

Thank you
lynette thompson
I love thrillers, this sound like a good one. This is a winner.

Thank you
46. Rena
This looks like a great story.
Jennifer Thompson
48. JenLyndsey
I picked up my first Phillip Margolin book when I was 18. I was hooked. Much like someone's favorite musical artist, his works take me on a special escape. The Third Victim thus far has proven to deliver on this, intriguing me from the opening, and making me pine for more. Each sentence seems to have been written with a calculated skill I have come to know and look forward to. I am already hooked and need to know more about Merideth, and how other characters will weave through the story there is to hear.
Donna Rinas
49. mamabean
Would love to read the rest of this intriguing book! Thanks for the contest!
50. Phyllis Bernstein
Love Phillip Margolin books. Hoping I win this new one!
Melissa Lawrence
52. CurlyM
I would love to win this contest. Thanks for the chance!
This sounds great. I can't wait to read it!!
55. Angela Pelletier
Sounds like a great book! Looking forward to reading it!
Lori Provenzano
56. Mountainesque
This setting, which is very familiar to me, coupled with the very vivid writing really creeped me out. Resolution by reading required!
58. Laurie Bartels
Both the description of the plot and the excerpt drew me in. I would really like the opportunity to read the novel in its entirety.
susan beamon
59. susanbeamon
This thriller would fit nicely in my library.
Bonnie Karoly
61. grobiemum
Now, I need to know the rest of the story. I love a good thriller.
62. Christine Bensted
Can't wait to read this!
63. John Marsh
Looks like a fine afternoon of reading.
64. ParkdaleAR
The excerpt certainly makes one want to read the whole book---and it's the start of a new series, always intriguing!
Lorraine Bowen
65. rainey54
You had me at Phillip Margolin! Being the first in a new series and PNW could it go wrong!
Esther Whatley
66. ewhatley
Loved Margolin's previous works and this sounds like another good one. Would love to win.
Esther Whatley
66. ewhatley
Loved Margolin's previous works and this sounds like another good one. Would love to win.
Jay Fairley
67. Jayfairley
Haven’t heard of this author. Would love to explore this book.
70. Sharon Rasmussen
I've enjoyed Phillip Margolin's books for years and am so excited to see he's penned another thriller. The opening lines already have me anticipating a suspenseful story filled with danger and attempt misdirection. I hope the young detective, Harry, is integral to the plot because I immediately liked him.
72. Julie Bezselich
Sounds great. Can't wait to know what happens!
karen jones
74. kayjay50
i've not read any of phillip margolins books but this one really had an excellent start and i'd love to read more!
77. Marilyn Weisman
This story jumps right into the action, which is the way I love stories I read to begin. I can't wait to get a copy to continue. It whets the appetite and makes you start wondering where the thread woven among these characters will take me.
I really would love to win a copy of this book and would be more than happy to write a review.
Thanks for your consideration,
Marilyn name appears in red, although I did subscribe to become a member of this group?
Katrina Yurenka
78. kyurenka
When oh when will it be my turn to win? Sure hope it's for this one!
Mary Ann Woods
79. puttputt1198eve
I'm always happy to start reading a new series with a great author!
Andrew Jensen
81. atinman
Have never read Phillip Margolin but he does start off with shotgun blast.
82. tara ropp
Wow sounds exciting. Can't wait to read the whole book
83. Brenda Griffin
Awesome first chapter! I love all of his books and can’t wait to read this one!!!
84. Helen Sweet
Well, Mr. Margolin, you have my attention!
Carole Knoles
85. carknol
Always have time for a new imaginary thrill ride.
88. Julie Blumke
WOW! Sound like another winner. I have to know what happens.
90. HJW
Love Phillip Margolin and this new book sounds great....I am hooked!
91. Michele Parker
Excited to read the complete story!
92. Sally Masters
I have read all.your books and this one looks to be as exciting and suspenseful. You are a change from the normal authors and a delight to read. Thank you for.your books.
Heather Warner
93. HJW
Love Phillip Margolin’s books and this new one definitely has me hooked! Can’t wait to read it!
94. Christina McComiskie
I would love to read this book. Thank you for the chance! :)
95. Robin Pivirotto
Now I really can't wait to get this book. So suspenseful right from the very beginning. Great job.....again!
96. Jackie frantz
This looks so good! Can’t wait for it to come out!! Thanks for the chance.
98. Kittie McIntire
The exerpt is already pulling me in. Can't wait to read.
99. krbiwa
Big fan. Always look forward to the newest.
Alicia Sargant
100. asarge
another great book to add to my reading list
102. C
A good excerpt. I want to read the book.
103. Toni A Laliberte
Sounds awesome! Thank you for the chance to win it!
Corine Jacklin
105. jinxjacklin
I love a good suspensful thriller, from what I've read so far this fits the bill.
106. Ginny
Would love to win!
John Smith
107. jsmith2jsmith
Sounds gritty! I have delicate sensibilities!
110. jseels
Love all Margolin's novels and I am anxiously awaiting the release of this one.
Lori Laws
111. llaws72
I can't wait to read this book and I would love to win. All of his books are great. Thanks for the opportunity! :-)
112. pcal2
Oh, boy! I gotta read this one! I was hooked from the get go!
Jackie Wisherd
113. JackieW
This sounds like a book I would enjoy reading.
Carolyn Foland
117. gene123
It's great to be in on the beginning of a new series. I love to read them in order!
118. Bobbi Pratt
Love all of his books.Loved meeting and talking with him twice!! Can't wait to read this new one as it already has me wanting to know more!!
119. Linda Parker
This sounds like a book I would enjoy reading
120. Julie Holden
Wow! Really want to read what happens next! ????????????
121. Gwendolyn Rainey
122. Kerry Longtine
“I am on the way to the hospital with a girl”...fiction meets real life crime
Susan Morris
123. Samfor3
After reading the excerpt, I can hardly wait to delve into this book. My kind of read!
125. April Forse
Don’t leave me hanging!
Joanne Mielczarski
127. jtmswim
This book is already on my wish list - reading the exerpt gets me more excited about reading it.
What a tease this little excerpt is!! I Love legal thrillers and am ready to devour this one!! Thanks for a chance to win this exciting story!!
129. Rita Merrill
I love Phillip Margolin's books, I have read them all and can't wait to read this one!
131. Raina Aiello
Love his books!
Janet Oberfoell
134. Jobers
So intriguing! I can't wait to see what happens next.
137. Amy Thomsen
Sounds great. Need a good read to take my mind off of the cold. Thank you for the chance.
138. Linda Holly
Phillip Margolin is a name I always look for when book shopping (Often). I simply cannot wait to get into this twisted story.
140. Linda Popielski
I'm already sucked in wanting to follow along to find out the remaining story. Adding this to my tbr list.
Miriam Ostrander
142. Mert
Cannot wait, love Philip Margolin books
144. Muscoe22
This book sounds very intriguing - a real edge on your seat story!
Karen Minter
145. Muscoe22
This book sounds very intriguing - a real edge on your seat story!
146. Jessica Alvarez
I have read every single book by Phillip Margolin. They’re always hard to put down and they keep me on the edge of my feet. Multiple times I’ve tried to guess who the killer is, and shockingly, I’ve been wrong. As a prospective law strident, legal thrillers are an enjoyment and I look forward to continuing on reading every book Phillip Margolin publishes!
I can't wait for the next book from my favorite author!
samantha cox
Wow, just wow! Can't wait to get my hands on this book
Karen Terry
151. bblol65
I love his books and this one is a great read too.
Susan Mahaffey
152. Smbirds
Wow!!! After reading the excerpt, my heart was pounding. This is a must read book!
Rosemarie OConnor
153. Bailey
I’ve never read this author, but after reading this excerpt I will be looking him up. Sounds like a page turner!!
Marisa Young
154. Risa
Liked the excerpt. Would like to read the book.
157. Cheri Mobley
I can’t wait for the book.
William Hamilton
158. billham68
Phillip Margolin is one of my "Go-to" authors for legal thrillers. I look forward to his latest book.
159. Josh Bergland
I shouldn't have read excerpt... Now I'm wondering what happens and its going to be really difficult to wait till March.. Seems like another great book by Margolin..
160. Alana Breshrears
Very exciting!!! Can't wait for the book!!! Hope to win an ACR. Thanks for the chance!!
162. Suzanne Day
A huge fan. Love your books and quickly share with my book club. You are the best. Wishing you good health!
163. Suzanne Day
A huge fan. Love your books and quickly share with my book club. You are the best. Wishing you good health!
Jeffrey Malis
164. bravejam
Looking forward to reading more... Thank you for the entry opportunity!
166. Weezer
Love all his books. Now I’m hooked on this one. Can’t wait for release.
167. Md238
This already has me hooked,would love to win the book.
168. Nikki Buchan
Sounds good
170. Julie’s Bookshelf
Looks like this is a novel you don’t want to miss!
Robert Grieco
174. RobG
I just love the way Phillip Margolin writes!
Jim Belcher
175. librarypops
"First let's kill all the lawyers". Might lose a few good men and women, but it cleans out the house and senate for a fresh start. :)
176. Jo Ben Whittenburg
I can't wait. I love your books.
Mary Davis
177. Floozie1
My heart is beating quickly in anticipation..........
Jill Dark
178. Jillybeans2
Can't wait to read it. Really looking forward to this book.
179. Bradley A Harris
I'm always on the hunt for new authors to read. Definitely add to my list of books to read.
Kristie Swartz
I love Phillip Margolin's books! The very first book I read was Gone, But Not Forgotten. I was hooked. He's one of my very favorite authors. I can't wait to read The Third Victim! Right now I'm reading Sleight of Hand. Very good read. Keep up the great writing!
181. Scott Burwash
Looking forward to this book.
182. jmann
can't wait to read the rest of the story!
183. Laurie Buchanan
Yay! A new PM book!!
184. Jenniferinwi
So excited. I don't get a chance to read a lot, however I will drop everything to read Phillip Margolin's books. I start one of his books at 7:00pm next thing I know it's 1:00 in the .morning.
186. Toni M Manning
I love how fast the story grabs the reader.
187. Toni M Manning
I was so intrigued be the first chapter intro, I went ahead and ordered the book.
189. Matt wagner
There’s a reason he has written millions of words: ‘cause they are read.
I have read this author and like his work very much. I'd love to read his new book!
Johannah Brookwell
193. Johannah
This sounds like a perfect read match for me! I'd love to win!
Sheila Cohen
194. sheilaco
I love Philip Margolin's books. I would love to read this one.
Deb Philippon
195. DebP
I know Philip Margolin has been around for a while, but I've not yet had the pleasure of reading one of his books. I enjoyed reading the excerpt, though, so perhaps this will by my opportunity.
Krypton Imai
196. krypton
I haven't read him before either. Sounds interesting though.
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