UPDATE: Threat of inclement weather reschedules Ledding Library Cultural Forum event to Feb. 24-

Portland author Phillip Margolin is red hot right now — his latest novel, “Worthy Brown’s Daughter,” was released on Jan. 21, he spoke this week in Oregon City, and at 7 p.m. Feb. 24, Margolin will lead off the 2014 Ledding Library Cultural Forum this year in the Milwaukie High School theatre's black box.

by: PHOTO BY JAIME VALDEZ - Portland author Phillip Margolin will read from 'Worthy Brown's Daughter' at the Ledding Cultural Forum on Feb. 24.Kathy Gannett and Laura Gamble, the co-producers of the Cultural Forum, selected Margolin as the kick-off speaker, because he is a locally based author with a national reputation. ‘Worthy Brown’s Daughter’ is interesting and entertaining, as Portland in the 1860s comes to life. Along with the flavor of that era, Margolin’s themes of racism and social injustice are well done as are all the courtroom scenes, they said.

They also believe that the audience will appreciate his career as a criminal lawyer, which has allowed Margolin to experience, firsthand, murder trials that offer a believable storyline woven around a mystery.

Margolin spent three decades researching his historical novel, inspired by a true story of frontier justice in 19th-century Oregon and the horrors the freed-slave Holmes family went through to get their children returned to them.

In “Worthy Brown’s Daughter,” readers meet Matthew Penny, a lawyer who is mourning the loss of his wife while struggling to maintain his practice, and Worthy Brown, an ex-slave whose daughter is being held captive, in unexpected and suspicious circumstances. Surrounded by love, deceit, racism and, most importantly, the law, Penny, Brown and the rest of Portland get swept away by the court case of the century.

“In order to write the book I had to learn what it would have been like to practice law in Oregon in 1860. I was surprised to learn that there were no courthouses in the state and trials might be held in a field in summer or a tavern in winter,” he said.

In addition, “accommodations were scarce, and the parties often shared beds in one-room cabins with families who would put them up for a fee.”

Another thing that surprised him while researching for “Worthy Brown’s Daughter,” was the difference between the way law is practiced now and the way it was practiced in the Wild West of the 1800s.

Margolin, who from 1972 until 1996 was an attorney in private practice in Portland, has been writing full time since 1996. All of his novels have been New York Times bestsellers. 

These include “Sleight of Hand,” “Capitol Murder” and “Supreme Justice.” Each displays a unique, compelling insider’s view of criminal behavior, which comes from his long background as a criminal-defense attorney who handled 30 murder cases.

His first novel, “Heartstone,” was nominated for an Edgar for best original paperback mystery of 1978 by the Mystery Writers of America, and his second novel, “The Last Innocent Man,” was made into an HBO movie. 

For more on him and his books, visit

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