First Sentence: The surgeon laced his fingers and cracked his knuckles, a concert pianist preparing to tackle Tchaikovsky.
Defense Attorney Jack Lassiter is switching sides. The state attorney, who has political ambitions, cannot serve as prosecutor on the case of a very high-profile cosmetic surgeon who is accused of murdering his wife. Jake is taking on a huge challenge as the defense attorneys are his best friends, he quite possibly may be dying from CTE (Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy) as a result of his NFL days and, oh yes, there's no body.
One always appreciates an author who uses humor well—"when my cell phone rang, I figured someone was dead. Nah, I don't have EPS. I have caller ID."—creates a strong sense of place—"...an easterly breeze kicked up sand from the beach and ruffled the palm trees a few feet from my table."—and make one stop and consider—"Who's to say why we choose our friends? Just as with lovers, there's a certain mystery to the chemistry of friendship."—all within a very short space. It also helps in creating an intriguing protagonist. These things add up to a book of real promise and, if one has never before read Paul Levine, there is also the question of "why not?".
All of Levine's characters are fully-developed and none are caricatures. Dr. Melissa Gold, neuropathologist and Jake's lover and doctor, is the means by which we learn about CTE, the symptoms, indicators, and treatments including medications and eudaimonia, a philosophy of Aristotle's related to virtue ethics.
Levin reminds one exactly how dirty and self-serving are politics and politicians. He also makes a fair assessment about being a lawyer—"I just wanted to do good work defending the wrongfully accused. Surprise! Turns out there were far more people rightfully accused." There is also a reminder that legal cases take time—"This isn't an hour TV show where a clue falls into your lap after the third commercial."
Although there is an element that may have been predicted, there is a very good twist and a story which is well executed and occasionally makes one smile. Right up until the final page.
"Bum Deal" is remarkable for the level of suspense that can be achieved by a well-done courtroom scene. Levin definitely delivers.
BUM DEAL (Legal Thriller-Jake Lassiter-Florida-Contemp) – G+
Levine, Paul – 13th in seriesThomas & Mercer – June 2018