Jake Lassiter–“More Charisma Than Perry Mason”

A Miami Dolphins linebacker turned hard-nosed lawyer, Jake Lassiter appears in thirteen novels. He has been described by Booklist as “one of the most entertaining series characters in contemporary crime fiction” and by The Miami Herald as having “a lot more charisma than Perry Mason ever did.”

Perry Mason and Travis McGee

Here’s a point of divergence with straight-arrow lawyer Perry Mason. In the legal thriller STATE vs. LASSITER, Jake is charged with murder. Was he convicted? Did he jump bail and flee? Did he hire Perry Mason to defend him? No spoilers here!

Was Perry Mason ever charged with murder?  There are so many books in Erle Stanley Gardner’s series…we don’t know!  We’ll have to look it up.

“State vs. Lassiter” was nominated for a 2014 Shamus Award, and an Amazon reviewer offered this assessment: “Blend Carl Hiaasen’s wit with Elmore Leonard’s dialogue and throw in John Grisham’s courtroom savvy, and you have ‘State vs. Lassiter.'”

TO SPEAK FOR THE DEAD, the first of the Lassiter series, was honored as one of the ten best mysteries of the year by the Los Angeles Times, which described Lassiter as “Travis McGee with a law degree.” It’s fitting then, that Paul won the John D. MacDonald Fiction Award for MORTAL SIN, one of the series.

A screen adaptation of TO SPEAK FOR THE DEAD – re-titled “Jake Lassiter on the Bayou” – appeared as an NBC movie-of-the-week. Over Paul’s objections, the setting was moved from Miami to New Orleans. “Would they have moved Sherlock Holmes to Brooklyn?” the author asked.