Betrayal (Robin Lockwood: Book 7) by Phillip Margolin

Publisher: St. Martin’s Press, Minotaur Books

Date of Publication: November 7th, 2023

Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Fiction, Legal Thriller, Suspense, Adult Mystery Thriller

Series: Robin Lockwood

The Third Victim—Book 1

The Perfect Alibi—Book 2

A Reasonable Doubt—Book 3

A Matter of Life and Death—Book 4

The Darkest Place—Book 5

Murder at Black Oaks—Book 6

Betrayal—Book 7

Goodreads Synopsis:

In Phillip Margolin’s Betrayal , attorney Robin Lockwood finds herself defending her old nemesis in a multiple murder case with too many suspects, where success might cost her own life.

Robin Lockwood is now a prominent defense attorney in Portland, Oregon but a decade ago, she was a ranked and rising MMA fighter. Her career came to a quick end when she was knocked out and concussed in the first round by Mandy Kerrigan, a much more talented fighter.

Now the situation couldn’t be more different, with Kerrigan on her last legs, her career nearly over, arrested for the quadruple murder of the entire Finch family…and Kerrigan’s only possible friend is the attorney she beat so many years ago.

For Robin, it’s no simple Margaret Finch was a lawyer working for vicious Russian mobsters, and was in the cross-hairs of both the mobsters and the widower of a woman a client killed; her husband Nathan Finch was deeply in debt to a bookie who threatened his life; her son Ryan was the one who sold Kerrigan illegal performance enhancing drugs and was beaten severely by her when Kerrigan failed her drug test. To complicate matters further, the DA that Robin is facing is the man she’s just started dating, the first person she’s begun seeing seriously after her husband was killed.

In a case where the stakes are high and the truth is elusive, where each new fact twists the case in a new direction, there is seemingly no way to win or direction to turn that will leave Robin Lockwood unscathed.

First Line:

Shortly before Megan Radcliffe’s favorite show started, a very odd event occurred that was followed by a horrifying event.

Betrayal by Phillip Margolin

Important things you need to know about the book:

Pace: The pacing of Betrayal was medium. The author did pick up the pace toward the end of the book when the big reveal happened.

Series: Betrayal is book 7 in the Robin Lockwood series. While you can read this as a standalone book, I recommend reading the series’s previous six books. I was confused when the author brought up past cases and events because I went into this book cold.

Trigger/Content Warning: There are content and trigger warnings in Betrayal. If any of these trigger you, I suggest not reading the book. They are:

  • Bullying (off-page and told by friends of one of the deceased)
  • Cyberbullying (off-page and told by the victim’s parents and friends)
  • Adult-minor relationships (off-page)
  • Drug Addiction (mostly off-page)
  • Gambling Addiction (off and on page)
  • Suicide (off-page)
  • Drug dealing (some on-page but mostly off-page)
  • Blood (on page)
  • Gore (on page)
  • Dead bodies (on page)
  • Car accident (off-page)
  • Garroting (on-page)
  • Gun Violence (off and on page)
  • Murder (off and on page)
  • Organized Crime (on page)
  • Physical Assualt (on page)
  • Torture (off-page)
  • Violence (off and on page)

Sexual Content: There are sexual situations in Betrayal. They are not graphic.

Language: There is swearing and offensive language in Betrayal.

Setting: Betrayal is set entirely in Portland, Oregon.

Tropes: Red Herring, Dysfunctional Family, Mafia, Plot Twists, The Unlikable Victim, The Dramatic Reveal, High Stakes

Age Range: I recommend Betrayal to anyone over 21.

Plot Synopsis (as spoiler-free as I can get):

In her former life as a rising MMA fighter, Robin had fought and lost to Mandy Kerrigan. The injury she got in that match made Robin quit and take her studies as a criminal defense attorney seriously. Years later, Robin meets Mandy again, except Mandy is being accused of murdering an entire family-something that she vehemently denies. Taking her case, Robin sees that there are other people with the motive and means to kill the Finch family. But with the evidence pointing at Mandy, it will take everything that Robin knows to acquire her client. Can Robin and her team find evidence to free Mandy? Or will she go to jail for a crime she swore she didn’t commit?

Main Characters

There were a lot of characters in this book, and each contributed to the plotline in their own way. But for this section, I will focus on the two main characters. If I listed all of the secondary characters in this review, it would take forever for you to read and for me to write.

Robin Lockwood: I liked Robin. I liked that she wasn’t afraid to poke at people to get answers (the meeting with the mob boss and his enforcer stood out to me). I also liked that she was fair. Most criminal defense attorneys (at least in the books) are written as slimy and out for themselves. So, it was refreshing to see one who worked with the prosecutor and did things correctly. There wasn’t anything deceptive about her. She even came clean about her blossoming relationship with the prosecuting attorney when she was assigned to Mandy’s case.

Mandy Kerrigan: I didn’t like her, but I did pity her. The author did get into her background and why she got into MMA. It was heartbreaking. But also heartbreaking was her fall from the top. She did hit rock bottom during this book (with the suspension/drugging and the murder trial). She felt that Robin owed it to her to get her acquitted. The scene towards the end of the book, when she exploded at Robin, sealed that notion for me.

My review:

Reading an excellent legal thriller is one of my favorite pastimes. I love seeing how the law works and figuring out if the defendant (or plaintiff) will be found guilty/not guilty. So, I was happy to read Betrayal. I was thrilled when I found out it was from a criminal defense attorney’s side (instead of the DA). As I mentioned above, the criminal defense attorney rubs me the wrong way in most books I have read. Thankfully, this book is different.

The Finch family was one of the most dysfunctional families I have read. Anyone that they came in contact with could have killed them. The mother was a lawyer for the Russian mob, the father created designer drugs at his workplace, the son dealt the drugs his father made, and the daughter bullied a girl into committing suicide. I think the author could have just written a book about each of them instead of having them all killed off. But, it made for a good read and a good who-dun it. Why? Because this family pissed off a whole bunch of people over the past year, and any one of those people could have killed them. Mandy was only arrested because the neighbor saw her at the house right before the bodies were found.

The mystery angle of this book was perfect. Usually, I can figure out who did it and the reason reasonably early in the book. Well, not in this case. I thought I had figured out who did it and was stunned by how the murderer was revealed and why that person killed the family. It was a huge twist, and I didn’t see it coming. I sat there with my mouth open and kept saying, “No freaking way,” over and over again.

The end of Betrayal was a huge twist (see above). I liked that the author wrapped everything up but left enough room for a book 8.

Many thanks to St. Martin’s Press, Minotaur Books, NetGalley, and Phillip Margolin for allowing me to read and review this ARC of Betrayal. All opinions stated in this review are mine.

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