Clothed but missing one shoe, criminal lawyer Jake Lassiter wakes in early morning on Miami Beach with a security guard standing over him. So begins Paul Levine’s novel, State vs. Lassiter (published Sept., 2013)


The tide is lapping toward Jake, and a sand sweeper will run over him if he doesn’t get up from the beach. But the mouthy nature of our hero immediately asserts itself, although once awake enough to reflect, even he realizes he doesn’t know how he came to be lying here at daybreak or why. A unique beginning that made me want to read more.

paulLEVINEThe gap in Jake’s memory, and the circumstances the police can construct of his past night, make Jake a prime suspect in a murder. The author’s experience as a criminal lawyer allows him to enlighten us, the readers, on some interesting points of the legal system as Jake finds himself in the role of suspect and finds himself making the human errors he’s seen his own clients make. People, innocent and not innocent, want to sound innocent when questioned by the police, and demanding your right to remain silent, or your right to have a lawyer present when questioned, doesn’t make you sound innocent.

The unfolding tale of the night missing from Jake’s memory and the background that led to it is both compelling and believable, and as reader I liked, enjoyed, and respected Jake. What more could a person want in a detective/lawyer novel? Here’s something else I appreciated: yes, Jake is in a tight spot, but I never felt the exasperation I’ve felt reading many novels about protagonists bullied by forces far greater than one man. (I feel too much of that in real life to want to subject myself to more of it in fiction.) Paul Levine, as an author, knows how much frustration is enough to make me root for Jake Lassiter without raising the frustration to a level that makes me want to escape the whole problem and therefore the book. After this, my first Jake Lassiter read, I trust Levine and anticipate savoring the series.

statevslassiterCOVERBy the way, I don’t think the cover does this book justice, as I often think book covers don’t. This isn’t a book about jail or prison, but a book about running around beautiful South Florida as Jake investigates to clear himself.

(Photo above right, author Paul Levine, from

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