Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Quick Analysis on Phillip Margolin's WOMAN WITH A GUN

Christal Cooper

Book Analysis By Chris Rice Cooper:
Phillip Margolin:  Woman With A Gun

       It is 2015, and Stacey Kim is a 28-year-old dreamer who goes to med school to please her parents only to realize that her real passion is in writing.  When she inherits a large sum of money from her grandparents she quits med school, enters into an MFA creative writing program. 

                    excerpt from movie poster of Bridgett Jones' Diary 

       There she meets her professor, Morris DeFord, the winner of the PEN/Faulkner Ward for Fiction and a finalist for the National Book Award.  DeFord tells Stacey that her short story “A Fragment of the Day” was one of the finest pieces of fiction he had ever read.   This gives her the craving to write the great American novel, and the courage, after her graduation, to move to Manhattan where she lands a job with the Wilde, Levin, and Barstow law firm.  

                     Mixed media by Chris Rice Cooper 

       She assumes she will be full of ideas of writing in her Manhattan apartment and her job at the law firm will give her plenty of inspiration, but she is terribly wrong.  Her apartment is so small it practically just fits her bed, she is bored at her job, and her zest for writing is gone –she has writer’s block, which other than rejection, is the writer’s greatest fear.

                           Mixed Media by Chris Rice Cooper 

       But all that changes when one day during her lunch break she attends a Salvador Dali exhibit, and completes the Dali exhibit with time to spare – just enough time to visit the exhibit next door:  the photography exhibit of Pulitzer Prize winner Kathy Moran. 

                                          Salvador Dali November 9, 1939

She is captivated by one photograph titled Woman With A Gun, the photograph that earned Moran her Pulitzer Prize. 

All of a sudden the block disappears and Stacey has this craving, the urge to write her great novel based on the photograph Woman With A Gun.  But that is where Stacey’s story ends – on page 8, and she doesn’t enter the picture until page 165.

              Photograph by Chris Rice Cooper 

       On page 9 it is now 2005, and we meet a variety of characters for the next 156 pages and it is in these 156 pages that we learn the most about Kathy Moran, District Attorney Jack Booth; and the mystery woman in Woman With A Gun is not a mystery as of page 15, when the reader learns her name along with other backstory about her.   

                        Mixed Media By Chris Rice Cooper 

The reader also learns everything else in these 156 pages, including three more homicides that occur, jumping from 2005 to 2010 and back to present day 2015.   In these pages there really is no mystery, and even though District Attorney Jack Booth and other officials in these homicide cases seem to be in the dark, I as a reader found it pretty easy to read between the lines and figure out the case long before Stacey Kim comes back into the game on page 165.  

                          Mixed Media By Chris Rice Cooper 

       Still even after Stacey Kim reenters the book on page 165 it is not Stacey who solves the great mystery but Jack Booth who figures it out not by studying the mystery of the Woman In The Gun but by discovering the identity of the bearded man in another picture taken by Kathy Moran and figuring out the direction the image Woman With A Gun was taken.

Stock Photo of bearded man photoshopped by Chris Rice Cooper 

       The things Stacey Kim encounters on page 165 until the very last page of 294 is far fetched from her quick love affair to a lawyer involved in the cases, to two acts of violence she suffers and survives; and to her being embraced by the participants in these murder cases.  Most novelists, especially those not published, are not so openly embraced and invited into the center office and center residences of the people involved in murderer cases, especially those cases that are still considered unsolved. 

                     Mixed Media By Chris Rice Cooper 

       On the other side of the coin, Women With A Gun is a good read and takes place in Philip Margolin’s home state of Oregon, which in itself is a character beautifully cast in this novel.

                      Oregon's Lone Ranch Beach CCBY SA3.0

       Margolin’s background is in the criminal justice field as a defense attorney who has handled over 30 murder cases; and with 18 novels, all of them New York Times Bestsellers, Phillip Margolin is doing something right.

                      Phillip Margolin April 27, 2008 Fair Use 

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