Monday, November 21, 2011

Grisham, Levine Both Score With New Novels

Sleazy lawyers abound in a pair of highly entertaining new novels. With many courtroom shenanigans and unexpected plot twists, these fast-paced tales are likely to keep you up reading all night, rooting for the underdog.

“The Litigators”, by best-selling author John Grisham, (Doubleday, $28.95) is his best book in a few years.

Grisham, the masterful storyteller well known for his excellent legal thrillers, doesn’t disappoint his loyal fans as adds a bit more humor, introducing ambulance-chasing attorneys Oscar Finley and Wally Figg.

The lower level attorneys have been together for over 20 years, operating out of a seedy Chicago office, specializing in quickie divorces and DUI’s.

David Zinc is a smart, young, burned-out attorney who’s tired of 100-hour weeks. He impulsively decides to quit his job at a prestigious law firm, ending up drunk at Finley and Figg’s office.

As unlikely as it seems, he joins the lawyers and soon becomes involved in a class action suit against a major pharmaceutical company.

That’s where the fun begins, as the attorneys try to get statements from people whose family members have either died or been harmed by Krayoxx, a popular cholesterol-reducing drug with possible deadly side effects.

Sleaziness is not limited to the Finley and Figg firm; other attorneys around the country jump on the bandwagon and the huge pharmaceutical firm has its own unscrupulous tactics. Grisham is in fine form with strong, likable characters, lots of courtroom action and a satisfying conclusion.

“Lassiter” by award-winning author Paul Levine (Bantam, $25) marks the gritty return of Jack Lassiter, a former football player who’s earned a reputation as a tough lawyer in Miami’s low rent district.

Beautiful Amy Larkin hires Lassiter to investigate the disappearance of her sister Kristi, eighteen years earlier at a party at a local porn producer’s mansion.

Runaway, underage Kristi had starred in some films, but has vanished; Lassiter was peripherally involved and vows to make amends.

The quirky case gets more complicated when Amy is accused murdering a mobster; the porn producer, now a philanthropist, is trying to stay out of the picture and a dedicated State Attorney is out for blood.

While it’s been 14 years since the last Lassiter novel, Levine, the author of the excellent Solomon/Lord series definitely hasn’t lost his touch.

Ray Walsh, owner of East Lansing’s Curious Book Shop,
had reviewed crime novels regularly since 1987.

This review was originally published by the Lansing State Journal on Sunday, November 20, 2011.

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