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Spotlight on: Solomon vs. Lord by Paul Levine

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Solomon vs. Lord by Paul Levine Paul Levine, Solomon vs. Lord

I love a good courtroom novel, and the premier entry in author Paul Levine's new legal series is a great courtroom novel. With suspense, romance, humor, and a huge heart, Solomon vs. Lord is the story of two attorneys and their tempestuous relationship in the face of Miami's most media-saturated murder trial. It's a lot of fun -- imagine Moonlighting, but with lawyers.

When Victoria Lord is fired from her state's attorney's office job, Steve Solomon, the counselor for the defense, takes her on as his partner. Immediately, the sparks fly (Victoria likes to go by the book, but Steve says "when the law doesn't work, work the law") and we just know -- despite the fact that they evidently can't stand each other, and that she is engaged to South Florida's avocado king -- that these two are going to end up together.

But that's just the fun part -- the real story involves the death of local millionaire Charles Barksdale and the arrest of his wife Katrina for his murder. As a friend of the accused, Victoria takes on the case, with Steve, against her former employer, state's attorney "Sugar Ray" Pincher.

Meanwhile, Steve has his own problems: social services is trying to take his mildly autistic nephew, Bobby, away from him. Steve rescued Bobby from Steve's drug-addicted sister, Janice, but Dr. Doris Krankovich believes Solomon to be an unfit parent. These, along with Steve's father issues and Victoria's indecision about who she truly belongs with, make for a dense, involving novel that still manages to be a quick read.

Author Levine (a writer for JAG and the author of the Jake Lassiter series of crime novels) effortlessly combines humor and suspense, with several laugh-out-loud throwaway lines buried among the drama. The cracks come fast and furious, right along with the suspense. Bobby's ability with anagrams will delight word fans, but the real draws are the main characters, especially Solomon and Lord. Levine knows that it is just as much fun to watch people fall in love as it is to watch them win a case, and he gives us plenty of both, resulting in a book that is a true pleasure to read and is a fine addition to the ever-growing canon of novels with wacky South Floridian characters (see Elmore Leonard, Carl Hiaasen, and Dave Barry for more examples). (Also see my review of the second novel in the series, The Deep Blue Alibi.

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