About the story
In this, his eighth best seller, Margolin is reprising a popular earlier character, the Portland lawyer Amanda Jaffe, who is still recovering from a near-death, traumatizing court room encounter with a true sociopath [Wild Justice (2000)]. Her fragile, self-doubting, emotional state reminds one of that great, weird-eyed, lead in the TV series, The Profiler. The way the book is pitched, she is being reluctantly drawn into representing an escort service-owning, pimp, who is being charged with killing a US Senator and sacre-bleu! even his last lawyer. The colorful jailed hustler has an absurd contention that he has the goods on several high-ranking, powerful Oregon men who have a 30 year old, secret society the Vaughn Street Glee Club that is bent on murder and taking over the Presidency. This bit of news whets my conspiracy theory tastebud and draws Ms. Jaffe into many very unpredictable plot twists.
Mixed in with seedy politicos and yuppie types, there are drug dens and prostitutes and a nice contretemps as she defends the pimp and goes up against Tim Harrigan, a Heismann-trophy -winning ex-footballer state attorney who has a steady stream of his own sleaze to overcome as well.
The motivations for why the power boys must do so much killing and be so brutal with people who know things about their 30-year-long conspiratorial history, and their involvement in the whole hackneyed drug trade, gets a little convoluted.
The premises for their keeping the binding ties of their secret society are a bit over the top, the characters and their ties to one another not so binding, but still the action keeps us on the edge and the writing is so slick and skillful that this makes for a great beach read or car journey accompaniment.
Read vs. listen
For me, reading rather than listening to this particular legal thriller comes off better. Even though reader George Guidalls interpretations of Hispanic thugs, brazen yuppies, embraceable and flawed heroes and heroines, power-hungry politicos, and sexually-enticing escorts is superb, they got unwieldy and I missed what motivated and drove these characters on.
The mystery rush
If you are looking for literary depth a la Dostoevskys Roskolnikov, a tale of Faulknerian proportions, deep psychological motivations and justifications, or deep cultural explorations that youd expect from a seasoned Peace Corps observer, then you probably wont get the rush that us thriller, mystery mavens get sitting precariously on our seats, following Margolins every plot twist and high intrigue in Ties That Bind.
Tucker Clark is a consultant /writer with Masters Degrees in Psychology & Social Work with too many formers in his Vitae, involving media projects (MTV/VH-1 Pro-Social Programming Director), two decades of involvement in clinic management and psychiatric training, substance abuse counseling, drug education publishing and corporate trainings and outplacement seminars, famine relief training in Ethiopia in 1985;E-Commerce and internet marketing, bookseller, fiction writer. Now to help maintain his Westport, CT lifestyle, he network markets at the Director level the PrePaidLegal Services product, offering the best legal representation as monthly insurance through this nationwide 30 year old NYSE-traded company.