Worthy Brown’s Daughter-Phillip Margolin

Worthy Brown’s Daughter
Phillip Margolin
Harper, Jan 21 2014, $26.99
ISBN 9780062195340

Rachel Perry was happy living in Ohio with her husband Matthew the lawyer and surrounded by their families. However, he had the wanderlust so they left the Buckeye State for Oregon. Nearing their destination, Matthew watches his wife crossing a raging river in the McCormack wagon as Rachel gives comfort to pregnant Mary; to his horror he helplessly sees his beloved spouse die.

In Portland, the grieving widower opens up a legal practice. Freeman Worthy Brown retains Matthew to liberate his teenage Roxanne from their former slave owner, prominent attorney Caleb Barbour. Not long afterward, witnesses find Worthy standing over Caleb’s murdered corpse. Matthew defends his client in front of hanging Judge Jed Tyler, who is distracted by his attraction to Sharon Hill. When affluent Benjamin Gillette dies, Sharon shows their marriage contract that has Tyler wonder whether the woman he craves killed the businessman and if she truly is the deceased’s widow.

Worthy Brown’s Daughter is an intriguing historical that looks closely at life in Portland just after Oregon becomes a state. Matthew is terrific as he struggles with the true meaning of justice between the law and what he believes is morally right; while Worthy seems genuine with his genuflecting deference to white leaders after decades as a slave. Although Barbour, Tyler and Hill are over the top of the Cascades as stereotypes of western baddies, fans will enjoy visiting Oregon circa 1860 especially the courtroom.

Harriet Klausner

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