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Guest Blogger: Phillip Margolin, author of "Sleight of Hand"

Sleight of HandPhillip Margolin has written sixteen New York Times best sellers. His latest novel is, Sleight of Hand.

In 1994, an amazing idea for a novel occurred to me: Could a President of the United States be a serial killer? How would he do it surrounded by the Secret Service and with the constant scrutiny of the press? My problem was that I couldn’t think of the book’s ending and I never write a line until I know how my book will end.

Then, in 2005, I had one of those flashes of inspiration that seem to come from nowhere. Suddenly I knew my ending and Executive Privilege was published in 2008. Supreme Justice and Capitol Murder followed. All three books featured an ensemble cast but my favorite character was always Dana Cutler, the emotionally damaged, ultraviolent, Washington, D.C. private eye, who stars in my new book, Sleight of Hand.

Dana, an undercover cop in the D.C. police force, was tortured by a biker gang she had infiltrated. When Dana broke out of the basement where she had been held as a prisoner she took her revenge in the most horrible way. It took a year in a mental hospital for her to learn how to deal with her trauma. Dana could not go back to her old job so she became a private detective specializing in non-stressful cases. In “Executive Privilege,” Dana suspects that the President is murdering young girls and has to run for her life. She meets all threats with extreme violence. The books in the Washington Trilogy show how she learns to deal with the problems created by her captivity and the development of her relationship with Jake Teeny, her lover.

“The Maltese Falcon” is my all-time favorite movie and one of the big twists in Sleight of Hand is inspired by it. Dana is hired by a mysterious Frenchwoman to find a gold, jewel encrusted scepter once owned by the Ottoman sultan who conquered Constantinople in 1453. Meanwhile, Charles Benedict, a brilliant criminal defense attorney, amateur magician and hitman for the Russian mob, murders a prominent prosecutor and uses magic not only to frame the prosecutor’s husband for the crime but to trick the husband into hiring Benedict to defend him on the murder charge. The two plots don’t appear to have anything to do with each other, but they do. The battle of wits between Benedict and Cutler is the highlight of the novel. Sleight of Hand gives Dana a chance to shine on her own and, I hope, gives the reader a fun, action packed ride.

--Phillip Margolin


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