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    Review of LOST LAKE by Phillip Margolin (see his website)

    HarperCollins, March 2005

    During Vietnam, a powerful general ran a secret, elite unit of spies and assassins to carry out his private agendas--which included the murder of a United States senator. At least, that's what his daughter, Vanessa Kohler, has maintained for many years. But no one believes Vanessa, who has a history of serious mental illness. She's written off as paranoid, a crank--and the fact she works as a tabloid reporter doesn't elevate her reputation any.

    Now Vanessa catches a glimpse of a man on the TV news, a man she thought long dead. He is one of her father's assassins. And if he is still alive, he is the one person who could prove the Unit existed. But the man, Carl Rice, now living under an assumed name, has his own problems--namely that he's been charged with attempted murder for intervening in a Little League game when a parent physically threatened the coach. He stuck a ballpoint pen in the guy's throat.

    Caught in the middle of all this is single-mom lawyer Ami Vergano, who is Carl's landlord. The man has been nothing but gentle and friendly until this incident. So when Vanessa comes to her with her wild claims, demanding that Ami represent Carl, she tries to get out of it. But the more she hears, the more intrigued she becomes. There is a thread of truth to what Vanessa's story. And Ami, though she is not a criminal attorney, gets sucked in to the drama, all the while trying to protect herself and her young son.

    This is a first-rate thriller reminiscent of the movie Conspiracy Theory. Sometimes paranoids have enemies, and sometimes they're not imagining things. It's easy to sympathize with Vanessa even as she makes one poor choice after another in her quest to prove her father, now a presidential candidate, is a cold-blooded murderer. Even Carl, a trained killer, is made sympathetic. I really could not put this book down.

    See more reviews of novels by Phillip Margolin.

    Four Stars

    Reviewed 3/21/05

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