Saturday, July 3, 2010

Justice in June

6/27/10 If you're tired of reading Janet Evanovich's Stephanie Plum books, with all the exploding cars and screwy antics, maybe it's time to switch to Barbara Levenson.

Justice in June by Levenson (Oceanview, $24.95) is a highly entertaining, fast-paced and funny legal thriller.

It's the sequel to Fatal February, which introduced feisty Mary Magruder Katz, a quick-thinking, hard- working Miami criminal defense attorney.

Katz always seems to get involved in unusual cases and her latest challenges are no exception. Judge Liz Maxwell is being investigated by the Florida Office of the State Attorney for taking bribes in exchange for dropping or reducing charges on assorted drug cases.

The veteran justice swears she's innocent and is being framed; it's Katz's job to represent her and find out what's really going on.

Meanwhile, Katz's boyfriend, Carlos Martin, asks her to take a case involving Luis Coloma, a young Argentinean family friend who's been accused by the government of being a terrorist.

Katz has difficulty even connecting with Coloma, whose wealthy parents acknowledge that their son has problems, but isn't a terrorist.

As if that's not enough to handle, Katz's problems multiply when her boyfriend, a local developer, is being sued by potential tenants.

There are a variety of other confrontations. Katz is being stalked; a break-in at her house and a warning left in lipstick add to the tension.
After a messy break-up with an earlier boyfriend, Katz also is dealing with Martin, who wants more of a commitment.

Katz is juggling three cases, getting publicity but losing clients because she's being associated with representing a suspected terrorist.

Her actions in that case are especially fascinating, as she attempts to thwart truth-twisting, over-enthusiastic government officials.

The author uses short, action-packed chapters to speed the story.

Levenson, who's served as senior judge in circuit court in Miami-Dade County for many years, has created a likable, quirky main character and an enjoyable, atmospheric mystery.

Ray Walsh
This article also appeared in the Lansing State Journal on June 27, 2010

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