LASSITER – Paul Levine (Reviewed by Gloria Feit)

“Lassiter” is prefaced with a quote from Lenny Bruce:  “In the halls
of justice, the only justice is in the halls.”  A very realistic
assessment of the US legal profession and justice system, one which
comes alive in the ensuing pages.  The newest novel from Paul Levine
moves along in a very entertaining manner, until suddenly it evolves
into something much tighter and delivers a dramatic courtroom scene a
la Perry Mason or, more contemporaneously, Law & Order.  Which I
really should have expected from this author, having read many of his
thirteen previous books and enjoyed them all.  Presented with wry
humor and a very likeable – well, perhaps I should say ‘sympathetic’ –
protagonist, and with nary a[n explicit] lawyer joke included!

The past of Jake Lassiter, Mr. Levine’s criminal attorney protagonist,
self-styled ‘follower of his own rules,’ who refers to his clients as
‘customers,’ comes back to haunt him on the day he is hired by a
lovely woman who introduces herself as Amy Larkin, in jail in Miami on
a charge of First Degree Murder, who swears her innocence.  He soon
realizes that she is the sister of a teenage girl he had very briefly
known [and with whom he was even more briefly intimate] nearly two
decades earlier, who seems to have disappeared and is presumed dead.
The man Amy is accused of killing had presumably been mistaken for her
true target:  The man quite likely to have been the one responsible
for her sister’s fate; a man who in those years was involved in the
making of pornographic movies, among other even sleazier operations,
and the last person Lassiter himself had seen her with before she

Since that man has in the intervening years become quite a wealthy
businessman and philanthropist, having been known to contribute quite
heavily to the coffers of some prominent politicians and
office-holders, proving him complicit in the earlier events will be
quite a difficult task.  Jake, who has himself evolved from the jock
he had been [a linebacker with the Miami Dolphins, and whose dog is of
course named Csonka], after which the night-school lawyer has become a
somewhat successful criminal attorney with an office in South Beach
and a strong sense of justice, no matter how that end must be
achieved.  The ensuing investigation goes down many unexpected roads,
to a stunning conclusion that left this reader riveted.  The book sort
of sneaks up on you, until suddenly you’re hurtling through an
incredible and thrilling tale with all the ingredients: a good
mystery, funny dialogue and great characters.  Highly recommended.

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