Woman with a Gun : My review


Woman With A Gun: Phillip Margolin

Some photographs speak volumes making the subject matter come alive and allowing viewers to become so immersed within the scenery or transfixed with the subject they often lose sight of where they are and become one and the same with the photo. “Woman with a Gun,” was a photo that author Phillip Margolin saw when in the bathroom of a men’s washroom and he immediately knew that this photo of a woman on the beach with her back to her audience holding a gun behind her back in her right hand was just the perfect cover for his next book and triggered a plot so diabolical, so brilliantly crafted that not only did the author tell the story but his main character, Stacey Kim decided to use this same photo in her novel after viewing this same photo. Stuck in a writer’s rut or writer’s block trying to figure out where to go in her writing career, Stacey contemplated her options while working as a receptionist for a law firm and hating every minute. All it takes is one change viewing or meeting and your life can change forever. A short lunch break and a visit to the Museum of Modern Art in New York, Stacey becomes so taken and obsessed with this photo that she has to learn more about it, the photographer and wonders and asks some of the same questions our author did when viewing this photo: Who is this woman? Why was she at the beach wearing a wedding dress? Why was she holding a gun and did she use it to kill her husband? Someone took this picture moments before the photographer of the picture, Kathy Moran, came upon the wife of millionaire, Ray Cahill, the woman in the photo on the beach. Megan Cahill is the woman in the photo and although she presents a puzzle and mystery to both the author, the potential novelist and the reader there are many questions that will go unanswered, there are many reasons why her husband was killed but who was behind the murder and why is only known by one person besides the murderer our author. Woman with a Gun provides a complex novel that takes readers back to where it all began namely the night of the murder before we get to know Stacey better, her motives for wanting to write this book and how she tries to find the answer to a ten year old murder that was never solved.

Relationships cannot be carved out and created just the way you might want them to be. There is no recipe that can be prepared to make two people join together as one. Jack Booth found his way to Palisades Heights through the Oregon Attorney General’s office asked to help in Raymond Cahill’s murder investigation. Finding a position with the Oregon Department of Justice District Attorney Assistance Program, Jack was noted for his experience, exceptional skills in being able to detect what others cannot and his straightforward way of handling cases. But, this one before all was said and done would not only test his every fiber but also make him question himself, his integrity and his objectiveness. Teddy Winston was waiting for him when he arrived appreciated the fact that Jack was there to help. Explaining the case, reviewing the facts one being that Raymond Cahill was a millionaire and that his wife was a person of interest. The photographer of the picture, Kathy Moran, found Megan Cahill and lead back to her home in what Kathy claims was a daze and unsteady demeanor. Claiming she remembered nothing, was hit over the head and thought to have a concussion, Jack realized right away that her actions and words might be suspect, her reasons for killing Raymond, financial and that there was more to this case. Defining the case and deciding who might be guilty would take readers back to 2010 when the murder occurred before getting to know Stacey and watching her weave a web of questions taking her investigation to a level that would not only endanger some of the players in the present but Stacey too. Someone does not want this solved and will go to any lengths to stop Stacey and anyone that gets in his/her way.

Getting to know Jack, hearing the investigators involved and learning more about Megan, you begin to wonder whether she is guilty or not or being framed. Meeting Megan provided him with some clues but in his own mind he realized that there was more that she would not reveal. Who would want to kill Raymond? Who stole some of his collection from his vault or safe and where did the gun she was holding come from? The author flashes back to 2005 when the murder took place as Stacey views the painting ten years later. Jack and Kathy were once adversaries in the courtroom and although he was taken with her right away she kept her distance. Kathy Moran’s past is sorted and shady and if revealed could ruin her career. Learning more about her we realize that she was addicted to drugs and alcohol and often the victim of abuse. Kathy Moran filled in some of the blanks as she revealed to the investigators and Jack that Megan Cahill was married to an abusive man named Parnell Crouse. Implying that he was the victim of Megan as a result of their divorce the stories do not seem to mesh and the end result will surprise readers as we get to know both Megan and Kathy and the reader has to decide with whom the truth lies. Getting close to a witness might not have been the best strategy but Jack was taken.

As the case progresses in the past we meet Glen Kraft and Henry Baker who will do everything to defend Megan Cahill. Megan is starlet quality and has everyone convinced by her actions and mannerisms that she was a victim in all of this. But, others supply information to the contrary making Jack wonder if she would more than profit from her husband’s death, if she was really so dazed and duped when Kathy found her and what really was behind the murder.

The victim hired Frank Janowitz, as the curator of his collection would house guns, coins and stamps. But, did he buy them from legitimate collectors or did he buy them from a thief? Many questions go unanswered as Jack tries to piece it all together but first the author takes us back five more years to where his life took a downward spin and his first encounter with Kathy Moran when dealing with the Kilbride Disaster. Meet Detective Oscar Llewellyn a twenty-year veteran who is investigating this case. As he and Jack begin to unravel the clues, meet with the witness little does Jack know that meeting Kathy Moran, in the past when she practiced law would be his downfall. Never take your eyes off the subject and never allow yourself to not pay close attention as Kathy Moran takes advantage of Jack’s obvious feelings for her and the end result is deadly. A murder trial that should have been a slam-dunk for Jack and a clever lawyer that made him look bad. Read chapter 10 and learn the end result in Chapter 11 when Jack’s attention is wrongly diverted. But, information is revealed and the link between lawyer and client is solid as Jack learns about Kathy’s addiction to cocaine and the reasons behind her taking his case. Trusting a witness is fine but not investigating her and learning about her past was a fatal error. When the truth comes out Jack has to find a way to rebuild himself, his career and get a sadistic killer behind bars as the deal is made, Kathy pays some of the price and the author flashes ahead 2005 where Kathy is now working in a the Seafarer as a waitress, is protected by the owner and many others and we learn more about Raymond Cahill, Megan, her ex-husband and his dealings and we meet George Mendez the chief of police. But, some cases are not meant to be solved and with all of the evidence, all of the speculations somehow the case remained cold and the only or end result was Kathy Moran found herself a victim as she claims and was worried about Gary Kilbride having been released early from prison. So, why does Jack believe her stories and why do they provide her with the weapon that she would use to take this killer down?

As the case unfolds more and clues are pieced together a clever killer gets away with murder and the author flashes to the present as we learn more about Stacey, Kathy Moran’s Pulitzer Prize photograph, her showing at a gallery in New York as we learn of two other victims from the past. Stacey is so taken with the photo of Woman with a Gun that she uproots herself and moves to Portland to be where it all began. New apartment, new career in the making and hopefully meeting both Megan and Kathy, Stacey sets out with her idealistic attitude hoping to connect not only with them but with Jack Booth too. But, some investigations prove dangerous and when the killer realizes just how close Stacey is coming, the questions she’s asking just might lead back to the killer, something had to be done to stop her. With her list of people to question and her hope to solve a case writing a fictional novel focused on the photo, Stacey finds herself in Portland hoping to connect with those involved as Jack faces yet another failed relationship and must come to grips with his own realities. Watching Jack in the courtroom is revealing as he unveils a case filled with lies, betrayals and deceit when an officer is wrongly accused and the court learns how and why. But, suspicious rise as evidence is revealed making the reader and Jack wonder the connection between Moran and Gilbride, and Megan’s ex-husband. When pasts are revealed and truths known just who the killer is and why will not surprise readers but the fact that it took one photo to reveal the truth will let you know that the saying “A Picture is worth a thousand words,” and in this case the answer to a murder. How? Use your own detective skills to figure it out as Stacey starts a web of events, creates a trail leading directly to a killer and with the help of one young lawyer named Glen, Jack Booth and her own persistence and tenaciousness a killer just might be brought down. Characters so diverse and cleverly crafted they will draw you into the case and keep you glued to the printed page until you too decide: Woman with a Gun just who holds the smoking gun? Find out when you learn more about Woman With A Gun!

Fran Lewis: reviewer

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