Sunday, February 20, 2011

Fool Me Twice - Paul Levine

I don’t know Paul Levine, but we have a lot of mutual friends. I’d also never read any of his books until now. But several of the books in his series about Jake Lassiter, a defense lawyer and former pro football player in Miami, are now available for the Kindle, so I decided to give one of them a try. FOOL ME TWICE is from the middle of the series but works quite well as a stand-alone.

This one starts with Jake defending Blinky Baroso, an old acquaintance who’s a con man and swindler. Blinky is also the brother of the beautiful prosecutor Jo Jo Baroso, an old flame of Jake’s. Things get more complicated when Blinky’s partner in his current scheme turns up dead, and first Blinky and then Jake himself are suspects in the murder. Then Blinky disappears, Jake gets beaten up by a crazed treasure hunter from Colorado named Kit Carson Cimarron, and the action shifts from Florida to the Rocky Mountains, where Jake winds up on trial for murder. That brief description doesn’t really do justice to an appropriately twisty plot that races along at a very satisfying pace. Along the way we meet a lot of colorful characters, including Jake’s eleven-year-old nephew who’s a movie buff and aspiring filmmaker.

FOOL ME TWICE is an appealing blend of wacky, Florida-based crime novel (think Carl Hiassen), hardboiled detective yarn (Jake seems to get hit on the head as often as Mike Shayne), and legal thriller (there’s a lengthy courtroom scene late in the book that’s reminiscent of Perry Mason – I kept expecting Hamilton Burger to show up and shout, “Your Honor, Mr. Lassiter is making a circus out of this courtroom!”). More than anything else, though, it’s just really, really entertaining. Jake’s a fine, likable narrator/protagonist with a good supporting cast, and Levine’s prose is funny when it needs to be and tough when it needs to be, including an action-packed climax.

Levine is also the author of the acclaimed Solomon vs. Lord series of legal thrillers. Quite a few of his books are already available for the Kindle, and I think the rest are in the works. I plan to read more of them soon. In the meantime, FOOL ME TWICE gets a high recommendation from me.

(Paul Levine is a member of the Top Suspense Group.)


Mark Terry said...

I'm a huge fan, actually. True story: years ago I reviewed books for several publications, The Armchair Detective, Mystery Scene Magazine, ForeWord Magazine, The Oakland Press. The very first book I EVER reviewed for anyone was Paul's FOOL ME TWICE for The Armchair Detective. Man, I thought reviewing books was going to be a license to steal, it was so good. Well, the next handful of books proved that it could be a fair amount of drudgery, too, but I went out and read all of Paul's books. I even once wrote an article about his villains for The Armchair Detective and a profile of him for The Oakland Press. He left novel-writing for a few years to write for TV--JAG mostly, and developed a short-lived TV show about the Supreme Court. I recommend him highly too.

Steve said...

I believe he is also writing under the name Noah Boyd now.

Unknown said...

I like Levine's books a lot. I met him briefly at a convention a few years ago and was able to say, "I was reading one of your books on the plane on the way here."

James Reasoner said...

I have that first Noah Boyd book but didn't realize it was by Levine. It gets moved higher in the stack now.

paul levine said...

Thank you all, for the kind words. BTW, I think Noah Boyd is a former FBI agent...but it's not me. I'd be more likely to be a defendant!

And yes, the entire Jake Lassiter series is either on Kindle and Nook or will be soon...for $2.99.