“Bum Luck” by Paul Levine

Bum Luck by Paul LevineI was a big fan of Paul Levine’s Solomon vs. Lord series, which featured a pair of South Florida lawyers who were constantly at each other’s throats—that is, when they weren’t jumping into bed. The mismatched couple starred in a handful of books, but it had been so long since the last one came out (2007’s Habeas Porpoise) that I figured Levine had retired them.

Well, Steve Solomon and Victoria Lord are back, though they play a supporting role in Bum Luck, which primarily features another one of his series characters, Jake Lassiter. Like Solomon & Lord, Lassiter is an attorney (Levine himself was a lawyer before turning to fiction). A self-described “brew and burger guy in a pâté and chardonnay world,” Lassiter had a less-than-illustrious career playing for the Miami Dolphins a couple decades back. His latest client is also a Dolphin: the former benchwarmer is defending a current superstar. And thanks to Jake’s work on his behalf, “Thunder” Thurston was acquitted of murdering his wife. There’s just one problem—Jake is convinced Thurston was guilty, and after the acquittal, he finds himself wanting to wreak vengeance: “Thirty seconds after the jury announced its verdict, I decided to kill my client.”

The dead woman’s father, Clyde Garner, is out for revenge as well, threatening both attorney and client: “You know what you are, Lassiter? Dead lawyer walking.”

Another case, which pits Jake against his pals Solomon and Lord, brings up CTE (chronic traumatic encephalopathy), a degenerative disease that often strikes football players and others who have suffered repeated blows to the head. Learning more about CTE makes Jake realize that his frequent headaches and occasional memory lapses may be related to the condition. The book takes a poignant turn as Jake reluctantly decides to undergo testing and find out if his football career may have caused lasting damage.

Bum Luck has a few touches of South Florida wackiness that will resonate with fans of Carl Hiaasen and Tim Dorsey (Jake’s granny’s home cooking involves a heaping helping of iguana), but it’s not quite as outrageously over-the-top, which is fine with me. Even though I was meeting Jake for the first time, I found myself rooting for him, even when he made some morally questionable decisions. And I was pleased to find that his previous adventure, Bum Rap, also features Solomon and Lord; that book, along with almost the whole Levine backlist, is available free of charge to Amazon Prime members. I’ve already downloaded Bum Rap, and am looking forward to catching up with Lassiter’s earlier cases.

Note: Bum Luck will be published on March 28, 2017. Thanks to Thomas & Mercer and NetGalley for the review copy.

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