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Spotlight on: The Deep Blue Alibi by Paul Levine

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The Deep Blue Alibi by Paul Levine Paul Levine, The Deep Blue Alibi

Coming hot on the heels of Paul Levine's surprise hit romantic-comedy-legal-suspense-thriller of last fall, Solomon vs. Lord, is its sequel, The Deep Blue Alibi. I, for one, was glad to see it arrive so quickly, since I really enjoyed the first book, but I doubt that Levine can keep up this 500-page-book-every-four-months pace.

Steve Solomon and Victoria Lord, now romantic partners and law partners (it is probably best to have read Solomon vs. Lord first to get the history), are swimming in the ocean off Sunset Key when a runaway yacht comes heading right for them. It barely misses them and crashes onto the shore, but Victoria recognizes the boat. On board are Victoria's "Uncle Grif" (Harold Griffin, Sr., the business partner of her late father, a suicide who didn't leave a note) and what turns out to be an EPA official who has been speargunned through the chest.

This looks like a job for Solomon and Lord, Attorneys at Law, to discover The Deep Blue Alibi of her Uncle Grif, but Victoria wants to go it alone and then dissolve the partnership ... and maybe the relationship, as well. What starts out as a seemingly routine murder investigation turns into, what with the ties to her family, an opportunity to find out some of her family's long buried secrets, whether Vic wants to know them or not.

Meanwhile, Steve is finding out some things about his family as well. In trying to get back his disgraced ex-judge of a father's legal license, he runs into a problem: the old man doesn't want it back and, in fact, he wants Steve to stop the proceedings immediately. He would rather let the past stay in the past and enjoy his new role as grandfather to Bobby (Steve's nephew, the son of his drug-addicted sister -- again, read Solomon vs. Lord to get caught up). Never satisfied to leave well enough alone, Steve begins his own investigation into the reasons for his father's resignation and finds it a more difficult proposition than he expected.

The Deep Blue Alibi replaces the "Will they, won't they get together?" romantic subplot of its predecessor with a "Will they, won't they break up?" subplot, which isn't nearly as fun to read about. Add the reappearance of an ex-lover for each and Levine has created a pretty high level of potential discomfort. But he keeps the proceedings light with the requisite amount of quirky comic characters (mostly family members), quick quips, embarrassing anagrams (from Bobby), and even a visit to a nudist colony (a la A Shot in the Dark). Also returning are the always enjoyable Solomon's Laws ("3. Beware of a sheriff who forgets to load his gun but remembers the words to 'Margaritaville'.").

Levine owes a great debt to other Miami authors like Elmore Leonard, John D. MacDonald (the title is an obvious riff on The Deep Blue Good-by, the first Travis McGee novel), Carl Hiaasen ... heck, even Dave Barry. But he has also ensured that The Deep Blue Alibi, if not the most original of novels, is at least one of the most entertaining: a novel fans of legal thrillers and Jimmy Buffett can enjoy together.

(Included in the back of The Deep Blue Alibi is an excerpt from the upcoming third entry in the Solomon vs. Lord series with the Shakespearean title Kill All the Lawyers to whet your appetite for its arrival in September.)

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