The Darkest Place by Phillip Margolin: Featured Excerpt

Defense attorney Robin Lockwood faces an unimaginable personal disaster and her greatest professional challenge in New York Times best-selling author Phillip Margolin's next legal thriller, The Darkest Place. Scroll down for a note from Phillip Margolin and to read a first chapter excerpt of The Darkest Place!

A Note from Phillip Margolin

From 1972 until 1996, I had a law practice that specialized in criminal defense. During that time, I handled a number of cases that featured the testimony of experts on fingerprints, blood spatter, neutron activation analysis and other areas of science. In my opinion, you will usually win your case if you can present uncontested evidence of a scientific nature since most jurors, no matter how intelligent, won’t have the background to know about the subject. But what if an expert vouches for a questionable scientific theory.

In 2019, the Oregon Criminal Defense Lawyers Association held a two-day seminar that featured a discussion of the Shaken Baby Syndrome that prosecutors had been using for years to convict defendants when a baby had internal head trauma, but no external evidence of violence. Is this theory valid or is it junk science?

I researched both sides of the issue and decided to have Robin Lockwood defend a woman accused of child abuse based on this theory. I had a lot of fun working up the trial testimony of the experts for the prosecution and defense, while crafting a story that involves hidden gold, murder, violent gangsters and a whole lot more. I hope you enjoy it.

Chapter One

Portland homicide detective Roger Dillon drove down the gravel road past run-down shacks and the occasional double-wide as a soggy January rain spattered the windshield of the unmarked car. His partner, Carrie Anders, scanned the roadside mailboxes and front doors for the house number they were seeking.

Carrie was a large woman who was as strong as some of her male counterparts. She spoke with a slow drawl, leading people who didn’t know her well to form the impression that she wasn’t too bright. That gave the college math major an edge.

Roger Dillon was the opposite of Carrie in every way except IQ. A slender African American with close-cropped salt-and-pepper hair, Dillon was almost twenty years Carrie’s senior and several inches shorter. He had been one of Portland’s most successful homicide detectives since his promotion over twenty years ago.

The road curved, the houses disappeared, and the detectives found themselves penned in by towering evergreens on a narrow stretch of smooth, freshly paved asphalt. Three minutes later, they rounded another curve.

“What the hell is that?” Dillon asked.

“I’d say that we’ve just discovered the winner of the world’s ugliest house contest,” his partner replied.

Standing on a wide, manicured lawn was a three-story McMansion that was as out of place in rural, economically depressed Profit, Oregon (population: 2,467), as a Rolls-Royce Silver Cloud in an Afghan slum.

The driveway circled a grotesque fountain that was an obvious copy of one from a famous Las Vegas casino. Roger parked, and the detectives ran through the rain to the shelter provided by a portico, where they faced an oversized front door decorated with stained glass. Strewn across the multicolored panes by an inept artisan were stags that looked like dogs with horns and trees that could have been the creation of a first grader.

Carrie rang the doorbell. The chimes played the opening notes of the theme from Jaws. The detectives started to laugh. Then they remembered why they were here.

A shadow moved toward them behind the stained glass. Moments later, a tall woman with a trim, athletic build, pale blue eyes and long blond hair secured in a ponytail stared at the odd couple. She was wearing jeans and a dark blue cable-knit sweater.

“Are you Mrs. Joel Loman?” Carrie asked.

“Marjorie Loman, yes.”

The detectives displayed their credentials, and Carrie introduced them. The woman frowned.

“How can I help you?” she asked.

“Can we come in?” Carrie asked.

The woman hesitated. Then she stepped aside, and the detectives entered a massive entryway lorded over by an immense, crystal chandelier.

“Is there somewhere we can talk?” Carrie asked.

The woman led Roger and Carrie into a cavernous living room past a white grand piano to a sofa draped with colorful Mexican blankets. A pair of high-backed armchairs upholstered in burgundy leather sat in front of an enormous fireplace. Mrs. Loman took one of the armchairs and gestured toward the sofa.

“What’s this about?” she asked when the detectives were seated.

“I’m afraid I have some very bad news for you, Mrs. Loman,” Carrie said. “Your husband has passed away.”

Marjorie stared at Carrie for a moment as she processed this information. “Do you mean he’s dead?” she asked.

Carrie nodded.

Loman covered her mouth for a moment. Then she broke out laughing. “That’s the best news I’ve had in months.” The detectives looked at each other. “Did the bastard overdose on cocaine, or did his girlfriend stab him?”

“He was shot,” Carrie said. “A homeless man found the body in back of a Portland restaurant. There are signs that he was tortured.”

“Huh,” Marjorie said without any emotion. “Have you arrested the guy who did it?”

“We’re just starting the investigation,” Carrie answered.

“You don’t seem very broken up,” Roger said.

“You wouldn’t be either if you were married to Joel. We were getting divorced, and it hasn’t been pretty. He looted our accounts and hid the money. I had to change the locks to keep the bastard from sneaking in while I was at work and stealing the furniture. If he had his way, I’d be homeless like the guy who found him, which might not be a bad alternative to living in this monstrosity.”

“You don’t like your house?” Carrie asked.

“You’re joking, right? I hate it. We both grew up in Profit, and Joel had to show the whole town how big he’d made it. Now that he’s dead, I’m going to sell this eyesore, if anyone is stupid enough to buy it.”

“How did Joel make his money?” Carrie asked.

“Good question. I know he worked the stock market and was some kind of investment counselor, but he was always evasive when I asked him for specifics.”

“Did he have enemies?”

“I’d be shocked if he didn’t, but I don’t know anything about his business and very little about his so-called friends.”

“Why did you marry him, if you dislike him so much?” Carrie asked.

Marjorie sobered. She looked down at the Persian carpet and into the past. “We were high school sweethearts, and we married young. We were both pretty wild, and the crazy stuff we did then seemed like fun. Now, not so much.”

When she looked up, Marjorie looked sad. “Everything was okay until Joel started making money and hanging with what passes for the jet set in Portland. That’s when I became old news.”

She shrugged. “I guess he didn’t think I was fun anymore because I didn’t want to snort cocaine or do threesomes or drink all night until I passed out.”

“Can you think of anyone who can help our investigation?”

“Kelly Starrett is his partner, in more ways than one.”

“Pardon?” Carrie said.

“Joel and Starrett ran Emerald Wealth Management, and he was banging her, so she can tell you more about his business and his social life than I can.”

“Are you going to be okay by yourself?” Carrie asked. “Do you want us to call someone, a friend, family?”

Marjorie shook her head. “I’ve got work in an hour. That will keep me busy.”

“What do you do?” Roger asked.

“I do what you do. I’m a cop on the Profit police force.”


The detectives talked to Marjorie Loman for another half hour. When their car was out of sight, Marjorie took out her phone.

“McShane and Freemont,” a receptionist said.

“This is Marjorie Loman. I need to talk to Greg McShane.”

“Hey, Marjorie,” a man said moments later.

“Two detectives were just here. Someone killed Joel. They found his body behind a Portland restaurant.”


“Yeah. They said he was tortured.”

“That’s horrible. Do they have a suspect?”

“They said they don’t. So, look, now that Joel’s dead, can he still hide our money? Because I’m almost tapped out.”

“You’re still Joel’s wife, so it’s all yours, if we can find where he hid it.”

“Can you do that, find the money?”

“I’ll call Kent,” McShane said, mentioning Joel’s attorney. “I’ll see if he knows where Joel hid the assets. Now that Joel is dead, he’ll have no reason to keep it secret.”


Marjorie called the Profit police department and told her sergeant about Joel. He told her to take as much time off as she needed to deal with the funeral and her grief.

As soon as she disconnected, Marjorie went to their well-stocked liquor cabinet and poured herself a glass of Joel’s very expensive single-malt scotch. She was just topping off the glass when McShane called.

“I have good news and bad news.”

“Give me the good news.”

“Joel converted most of your assets to gold bars and stashed them somewhere. The good news is that you can claim the gold because you’re still Joel’s spouse.”

“Did Kent tell you the name of the bank?”

“That’s the bad news. Joel wouldn’t tell him where he hid the gold.”

“Is it in Oregon? Because we can hire someone to ask around.”

“Kent says the gold could be anywhere in the world.”

“You’re shitting me.”

“I wish I were. Has Joel taken any trips lately?”

“I have no idea. He’s been living in Portland since we separated, and I’ve only seen him when it was absolutely necessary. Can you help me find out where that asshole stashed my money?”

“I can put some people on it, but you should go to Joel’s place in Portland and see if you can find some clue to where he hid the gold.”


Copyright © 2022 by Phillip Margolin. All rights reserved.

Listen to an excerpt of The Darkest Place

About The Darkest Place by Phillip Margolin:

Robin Lockwood is an increasingly prominent defense attorney in the Portland community. A Yale graduate and former MMA fighter, she’s becoming known for her string of innovative and successful defense strategies. As a favor to a judge, Robin takes on the pro bono defense of a reprehensible defendant charged with even more reprehensible crimes. But what she doesn’t know – what she can’t know – is how this one decision, this one case, will wreak complete devastation on her life and plans.

As she recovers from those consequences, Robin heads home to her small town of Elk Grove and the bosom of her family. As she tries to recuperate, a unique legal challenge presents itself – Marjorie Loman, a surrogate, is accused of kidnapping the baby she carried for another couple and assaulting that couple in the process. There’s no question that she committed these actions, but that’s not the same as being guilty of the crime. As Robin works to defend her client, she learns that Marjorie Loman has been hiding under a fake identity and is facing a warrant for her arrest for another, even more serious crime. And buried within the truth may once again be unexpected, deadly consequences.

Learn More Or Order A Copy


  1. Best Muslim astrologer

    I exactly got what you mean, thanks for posting. And, I am too much happy to find this website on the world of Google

  2. Nidhi Company Registration

    Admirable Post I loved your article Thanks Dude For Sharing such a valuable information

  3. Child Problem Solution Maulana

    Great post full of useful tips! My site is fairly new and I am also having a hard time getting my readers to leave comments.

  4. run 3

    Nice Information thanks for sharing. May you bring this more in future.

  5. among us 2

    I am very happy to find this post very helpful to me, as it contains a lot of information. I always enjoy reading quality content and this I found in your post. Thanks for sharing.

  6. basketball videogame

    Great post, and great website. Thanks for the information!


    I appreciated your work very thanks


    Great article Lot’s of information to Read…Great Man Keep Posting and update to People..Thanks

  9. Smoke Shops

    Wonderful illustrated information. I thank you about that. No doubt it will be very useful for my future projects. Would like to see some other posts on the same subject!

  10. round tray with handles

    I’m going to read this. I’ll be sure to come back. thanks for sharing. and also This article gives the light in which we can observe the reality. this is very nice one and gives indepth information.

  11. home interior product

    I truly value this superb post that you have accommodated us. I guarantee this would be helpful for a large portion of the general population.

  12. New web site is looking good. Thanks for the great effort.

  13. Hood Cleaning Service

    You know your projects stand out of the herd. There is something special about them. It seems to me all of them are really brilliant!

  14. Kitchen Renovations

    I read that Post and got it fine and informative.

  15. You know your projects stand out of the herd. There is something special about them. It seems to me all of them are really brilliant!

  16. Thanks for posting this info. I just want to let you know that I just check out your site and I find it very interesting and informative. I can’t wait to read lots of your posts.

  17. I am very enjoyed for this blog. Its an informative topic. It help me very much to solve some problems. Its opportunity are so fantastic and working style so speedy.

  18. This is really a nice and informative, containing all information and also has a great impact on the new technology. Thanks for sharing it

  19. learn more here

    Im no expert, but I believe you just made an excellent point. You certainly fully understand what youre speaking about, and I can truly get behind that.

  20. click this link

    Your music is amazing. You have some very talented artists. I wish you the best of success.

  21. Rocky Train Vacations – Rail Tour Packages

    The information you have posted is very useful. The sites you have referred was good. Thanks for sharing..


    Hello, I have browsed most of your posts. This post is probably where I got the most useful information for my research. Thanks for posting, maybe we can see more on this. Are you aware of any other websites on this subject.


    I read a article under the same title some time ago, but this articles quality is much, much better. How you do this..


    I love the way you write and share your niche! Very interesting and different! Keep it coming!


    This is highly informatics, crisp and clear. I think that everything has been described in systematic manner so that reader could get maximum information and learn many things.


    Very useful post. This is my first time i visit here. I found so many interesting stuff in your blog especially its discussion. Really its great article. Keep it up.


    This was really an interesting topic and I kinda agree with what you have mentioned here!


    This is my first time i visit here and I found so many interesting stuff in your blog especially it’s discussion, thank you.


    Wow what a Great Information about World Day its very nice informative post. thanks for the post.

  30. Kitchen Worktops Neston

    I am very happy to discover your post as it will become on top in my collection of favorite blogs to visit.

  31. Quartz Worktops Northwich

    What a fantabulous post this has been. Never seen this kind of useful post. I am grateful to you and expect more number of posts like these. Thank you very much.

  32. เข้าเล่น sa

    from start to finish I read all your articles. It’s really unbelievable. Thanks for the great article today. I like to receive new news all the time.

  33. Levelup VR

    This is a great inspiring article.I am pretty much pleased with your good work.You put really very helpful information. Keep it up. Keep blogging. Looking to reading your next post.

  34. Mini Diger Hire Cranbrookn

    Hey what a brilliant post I have come across and believe me I have been searching out for this similar kind of post for past a week and hardly came across this. Thank you very much and will look for more postings from you.

  35. pu leather meaning

    Positive site, where did u come up with the information on this posting?I have read a few of the articles on your website now, and I really like your style. Thanks a million and please keep up the effective work.

  36. Vehicle Marshal

    I like this post,And I guess that they having fun to read this post,they shall take a good site to make a information,thanks for sharing it to me.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *