I grew up in New York City and Levittown, New York. In 1965, I graduated from The American University in Washington, D.C. with a Bachelor's Degree in Government. From 1965 to 1967, I was a Peace Corps volunteer in Liberia, West Africa. In 1970, I graduated from New York University School of Law. During my last two years in law school I went at night and worked my way through by teaching junior high school in the South Bronx in New York City. My first job after law school was a clerkship with Herbert M. Schwab, the Chief Judge of the Oregon Court of Appeals. From 1972 until 1996, I was in private practice specializing in criminal defense at the trial and appellate levels. As an appellate attorney I have appeared before the United States Supreme Court, the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, the Oregon Supreme Court and the Oregon Court of Appeals. As a trial attorney, I handled all sorts of criminal cases in state and federal court and I have represented approximately 30 people charged with homicide, including several who have faced the death penalty. I was the first Oregon attorney to use the Battered Women's Syndrome to defend a battered woman accused of murdering her spouse.
Since 1996, I have been writing full-time. All of my novels have been best sellers. Heartstone, my first novel, was nominated for an Edgar for best original paperback mystery of 1978 by the Mystery Writers of America. My second novel, The Last Innocent Man, was made into an HBO movie. Gone, But Not Forgotten has been sold to more than 25 foreign publishers and was made into a mini-series starring Brooke Shields. It was also the Main Selection of the Literary Guild. After Dark was a Book of the Month Club selection. The Burning Man, my fifth novel, published in August, 1996, was the Main Selection of the Literary Guild and a Reader's Digest condensed book. My sixth novel, The Undertaker's Widow, was published in 1998 and was a Book of the Month Club selection. Wild Justice (HarperCollins, September, 2000) was a Main Selection of the Literary Guild, a selection of the Book of the Month Club and was nominated for an Oregon Book Award.The Associate was published by HarperCollins in August, 2001 and Ties that Bind was published by HarperCollins in March, 2003. My tenth novel,Sleeping Beauty, was published by HarperCollins on March 23, 2004. Lost Lake was published by HarperCollins in March, 2005 and was nominated for an Oregon Book Award. Proof Positive was published by HarperCollins in July, 2006. Executive Privilege was published by HarperCollins in May, 2008 and in 2009 was awarded the Spotted Owl Award for the Best Northwest Mystery.Fugitive, was published by HarperCollins on June 2, 2009. Willamette Writers awarded me the 2009 Distinguished Northwest Writers Award. Supreme Justice, was published by HarperCollins in May, 2010. Capitol Murder was published by HarperCollins in April, 2012. Sleight of Hand was published by HarperCollins in April, 2013. Worthy Brown’s Daughter was published by HarperCollins in January, 2014. Woman with a Gun was published by HarperCollins in December, 2014. Violent Crimes will be published by HarperCollins on February 9, 2016.
Vanishing Acts, a young adult novel written by me and my daughter Ami Margolin Rome was published in October, 2011 by HarperCollins.
In addition to my novels, I have published short stories and non-fiction articles in magazines and law journals. My short story, The Jailhouse Lawyer, was selected for the anthology 1999, The Best American Mystery Stories. The House on Pine Terrace, was selected for the anthology 2010, The Best American Mystery Stories. The Adventure of the Purloined Paget written by me and my brother Jerry Margolin was published in A Study in Sherlock in October, 2011 by Random House.
From 1996 to 2009 I was the President and Chairman of the Board of Chess for Success. I am still heavily involved in the program and I returned to the Board after a one year absence in 2010. Chess for Success is a non-profit charity that uses chess to teach elementary and middle school children in Title I schools study skills. From 2007 to 2013, I was on the Board of Literary Arts, which sponsors the Oregon Book Awards, The Writers in the Schools program and Portland Arts and Lectures.