Book Review – Woman with a Gun by Phillip Margolin
June 13, 2015
Master of mystery Phillip Margolin transcends his traditional territory in this new and different book, a haunting thriller inspired by an unforgettable photograph
Visiting an art museum displaying a retrospective of acclaimed photographer Kathy Moran’s work, aspiring novelist Stacey Kim is stunned by the photo at the center of the show—the famous “Woman with a Gun,” which won a Pulitzer Prize and launched the photographer’s career. Shot from behind, the enigmatic black and white image is a picture of a woman in a wedding dress, standing on the shore at night, facing the sea. Behind her back, she holds a six-shooter.
The image captures Stacey’s imagination, raising a host of compelling questions. Has the woman killed her husband on their wedding night? Is she going to commit suicide? Is she waiting for someone she plans to kill? Obsessed with finding answers, Stacey discovers that the woman in the photograph is Megan Cahill, suspected of killing her husband, millionaire Raymond Cahill, with the six-shooter on their wedding night. But the murder was never solved.
Drawn deeper into the case, Stacey finds that everyone involved has a different opinion of Megan’s culpability. But the one person who may know the whole story—Kathy Moran—isn’t talking. Stacey must find a way to get to the reclusive photographer or the truth may never see the light of day.
I was totally intrigued when I read a review about this book, and I knew I would have to check it out. I haven’t read many mysteries lately, so it was a nice change of pace to pick this novel up.
On the Plus Side:
- I liked the premise that a woman is inspired to write a novel based on a picture she happens to see, and how it leads to a 10 year old murder investigation being reopened.
- I loved the seaside town of Palisades Heights. Even though it is not a real town, I’d love to get away for a weekend and visit a quaint location like this one!
- I loved the character of Stacey and how she went after her passion and dreams. I envied her courage and gusto!
- I enjoyed the novel shifting between past and present. It helps fill in the gaps in the story, and it keeps you engaged as a reader.
On the Minus Side:
- Margolin sometimes hit you over the head with certain clues to steer you in the right direction of the murderer. You will most likely guess whodunit before it is revealed.
- Jack Booth’s obsession with Kathy Moran was puzzling to me. It didn’t seem to be based on anything tangible, and the relationship was just not well developed. Margolin apparently needed it to further his plot, but it just didn’t make much sense for Booth’s character.
- I still had some questions left in my mind at the end of the novel. I don’t feel as if Margolin tied up all of the loose ends.
- There were many characters, and I had a hard time recalling everyone’s role at certain points.
Overall, I enjoyed this read, but I didn’t quite LOVE it. I would recommend it as an interesting mystery if that is what you are looking to read.
What did you think of Woman with a Gun?