BUM DEAL

“They don’t call us sharks for our ability to swim.” —Jake Lassiter

Second-string linebacker turned disillusioned defense attorney Jake Lassiter finally switches teams. Appointed special prosecutor in a high-profile murder case, he vows to take down a prominent surgeon accused of killing his wife. There’s just one problem…or maybe three: no evidence, no witness, and no body.

But Lassiter’s used to fighting impossible battles on the gridiron and in court. After all, he’s not totally burned-out—just a little scorched.

Standing in Lassiter’s way are the defense lawyers: slick-talking Steve Solomon and blueblood Victoria Lord, who would love to beat their old mentor in court. Not to mention the specter of CTE, the lethal brain disease Lassiter may have contracted banging heads in the NFL. Drained of his mental edge just when he needs it most, Lassiter faces the possibility of losing the case—and his life—in court.

PRAISE FOR “BUM DEAL”

“Any book with Jake Lassiter is a drop-everything, read-it-now for me—and this one has Solomon & Lord too. ‘Bum Deal’ is fantastic.” —Lee Child, #1 bestselling author of the Jack Reacher series

“’Bum Deal’ is the real deal. Jake Lassiter at his smart-talking, fast-thinking best. A funny, compelling and canny courtroom thriller, seasoned with a little melancholy and a lot of inside knowledge.” —Scott Turow, #1 New York Times bestselling author

“Fascinating, fully developed characters and smart, well-paced dialogue keep the pages turning. Levine manipulates the expectations of the reader as skillfully as Jake manipulates the expectations of the jury” —Publishers Weekly (starred review)

“The ending is perfect: a nudge in the ribs that doesn’t sell out the novel’s sinister edge. This is a triumph of mood and tone as well as plotting.” —Booklist

“A terrific setup, razor-sharp repartee, and enough plot reversal to make your head swim like an afternoon daiquiri, ‘Bum Deal’ is vintage Paul Levine: entertaining and exceedingly smart.” —Andrew Gross, #1 New York Times bestselling author

“Jake Lassiter is up against his greatest challenge—an incurable, brain-wasting disease that threatens to rob him of his brilliant, legal mind when he needs it the most. It’s an astonishing, bittersweet, and daring gamble, but those are the qualities that have always set Levine and Lassiter apart from the pack.” —Lee Goldberg, #1 New York Times bestselling author

“Jake Lassiter for the prosecution? What will Paul Levine think of next? How about a brilliant doctor who just happens to be a murderous psychopath? How about Solomon & Lord for the defense? How about the jackhammer headaches that may have scrambled his brain once too often? It’s all there as Levine connects the funny bone to the heart in the pulse-pounding Bum Deal.” —John Schulian, PEN/ESPN Lifetime Achievement Award winner

Jake Lassiter, Meet Solomon & Lord

bum rap bum luck bum deal

How did Jake Lassiter, the linebacker-turned-lawyer, get together with those squabbling law partners, Steve Solomon and Victoria Lord? I’m glad you asked. The answer can be found in “Bum Rap,” which opens with a bang. Literally. The first chapter consists of four paragraphs:

The gunshot hit Nicolai Gorev squarely between the eyes. His head snapped back, then whiplashed forward, and he toppled face-first onto his desk.

There were two other people in the office of Club Anastasia.

Nadia Delova, the best Bar Girl between Moscow and Miami, stared silently at Gorev, blood oozing from his ears. She had seen worse.

Steve Solomon, a South Beach lawyer with a shaky reputation, spoke over the echo still ringing off the walls. “I am in deep shit,” he said.

bum rap
Jake Lassiter meets Solomon & Lord in “Bum Rap”

Let’s leap ahead a few pages. Solomon’s law partner and lover, Victoria Lord, asks Lassiter to represent Solomon when he’s charged with murder. Here’s their first fractious meeting, as related in first person by Lassiter:

If there is a more dispiriting place in Miami than the county jail, I haven’t found it . . . and I’ve spent a lot of time at the morgue. Approaching the jail, you can hear the anguished shouts of inmates, yelling through the barred windows at their wives, girlfriends, and homies below. Inside, you’ve got that institutional smell, as if a harsh cleanser has been laced with urine. Buzzers blare and lights flash. Steel crashes against steel as doors bang shut with the finality of a coffin closing.

I found Solomon and Lord in the lawyer visitation room. Looking at my new customer – excuse me, client – I said, “First rule, Solomon. You have to tell me the truth.”

“No problem, counselor,” he replied. “Like I tell my clients, ‘Lie to your spouse, your priest, and the IRS, but always tell your lawyer the truth.’”

“Lie to your spouse?” Victoria gave him a pained look.

“Just an expression, Vic.”

“Second rule,” I said. “Don’t leave anything out, no matter how embarrassing.”

“We’re on the same page, Lassiter. Now, why don’t I just tell you what happened?”

“Third rule,” I said, ignoring his request. “In trial, don’t lean over and whisper in my ear.”

“Why the hell not?”

“You’ll distract me. Plus I won’t be able to hear the testimony.”

“You’ve got two ears.”

“I had multiple concussions playing ball and I’ve got some hearing loss.”

Solomon turned to Victoria. “You brought me a deaf lawyer?”

“Plus I’m bone tired of clients who try to tell me what to do.”

“A deaf, punch-drunk, burnout lawyer.”

“If you have a question you want me to ask on cross, just write a note on a legal pad in large block letters.”

“You going blind, too?”

“I’ll read your note and decide what to do.”

Solomon reached across the table, grabbed my pad and pen, and scribbled something. Then he shoved the pad back at me: “SCREW YOU, LASSITER!”

“I think you’ve got the hang of it,” I said.

“Now, if we’re done with your rules,” he said, “I’ll speak loudly so you can hear and slowly so you can understand. What’s the chance you can get me bail?”

“First degree murder. No chance.”

“I’m sorry, Steve,” Victoria said.

“It’s okay, hon. Been here lots of times for contempt.” He turned to me, grinning. “Does that shock you, Lassiter?”

“Not that you’ve been held in contempt. Only that you consider it a merit badge.”

“A lawyer who’s afraid of jail is like a surgeon who’s afraid of blood.”

“Glad you’re comfortable here. If we lose, life without parole won’t seem so bad.”

Kindle Matchbook deal
Steve Solomon and Victoria Lord’s first adventure.

Solomon looked as if he wanted to do to me what the state said he did to the Russian. “Lassiter, you have a remarkable ability not to inspire confidence in a client.”

I shrugged. “Why don’t you tell me your story and see if you can inspire my belief in your innocence?”

“Before I do, promise you won’t get on that white horse of yours and start making moral judgments.”

“I’m a lawyer. I make legal judgments.”

“Good. Because I remember when you were charged with killing your banker.”

Yet more proof, I thought, that our past clings to us like mud on rusty cleats. “Bum rap,” I said.

“So’s this!” Solomon wheeled toward Victoria, his dark eyes lighting up. “I get it now. You hired Lassiter because he’s been wrongfully charged, and you think he can relate to me in some band-of-brothers, soldiers-in-the-foxhole way.”

Victoria smiled. “I think you two have more in common than either of you may realize.”

“Doubt it,” my client and I said simultaneously.

“You both believe that the justice system is flawed,” Victoria said.

“The so-called justice system,” I added.

“The ex-jock is right,” Solomon said. “The system is riddled with human frailty.”

I nodded. “Lousy judges. Lazy lawyers. Sleeping jurors. The innocent go to jail and the guilty go free.”

“I’m with you on this, Lassiter.” He sounded positively delighted. “Your job is to do everything you can to win, even if you have to break some dishes . . . or some ethical rules.”

“Only the small ones,” I said. “Now, tell me what happened at Club Anastasia.”

Solomon began by describing how a Russian bar-girl named Nadia Delova came to his office, asking for help in getting back pay from club owner Nicolai Gorev. Then he got to the juicy part.

“Bum Rap” is available in e-book, print, and audio formats. Oh, that reference to Lassiter being charged with killing his banker. That’s a short novel titled “State vs. Lassiter.” Because all the Lassiter novels are stand-alones, they can be enjoyed in any order.

BUM LUCK

His client just beat a murder rap. Will Lassiter let him live long enough to enjoy it?

What’s wrong with Jake Lassiter?

He’s just won in court. Will he really turn vigilante in the street?

Lassiter is hip deep in the criminal lawyer’s classic moral dilemma. He believes his client, NFL superstar Thunder Thurston, murdered his wife. But the jury just said “not guilty.” A lawyer is supposed to let it go. Another day, another dollar, another case. Not Jake Lassiter.

Thirty seconds after the jury announced its verdict, I decided to kill my client.

That’s not all. The linebacker-turned-lawyer suffers from crushing headaches and has memory problems. His pals, squabbling law partners Steve Solomon and Victoria Lord, fear that all those concussions playing football have caused the irreparable brain damage known as chronic traumatic encephalopathy? They try to help, but Lassiter resists.

“Thunder killed a woman,” I said. “He deserves to die.”

Victoria’s brow furrowed into little worry lines. “Jake, you’re just speaking theoretically, aren’t you? This isn’t real. You’re simply philosophically inclined toward retribution.”

“I’m philosophically inclined toward a nine-millimeter Beretta.”

  • Can Solomon and Lord stop Lassiter from becoming a murderer?
  • Will Dr. Melissa Gold, a neuropathologist specializing in C.T.E., be able to cure Lassiter, or at least halt his decline?
  • Or…is it game over for Lassiter’s career and life?

Bum Luck and all of Paul Levine’s legal thrillers are FREE for Kindle Unlimited members here!

PRAISE FOR “BUM LUCK”

“Another winner. A taut and dazzling legal thriller and a sly and witty rumination on the meaning of justice.” – Robert Dugoni, #1 Wall Street Journal and #1 Amazon bestselling author

“Paul Levine continues his trademark brisk pacing with timely storytelling and well-placed humor. ‘Bum Luck’ is elevated further by teaming Jake with Steve Solomon and Victoria Lord. The trio make an unstoppable team – concerned about the law, but even more about people.” – South Florida Sun-Sentinel

“A one-sit, must-read novel full of memorable characters and unforgettable vignettes. Levine’s pacing is perfect as always, and the pages just fly by, even as he juggles multiple plots with his own unique aplomb. Put ‘Bum Luck’ at the top of your reading list.” – Bookreporter.com

“Immensely entertaining. Paul Levine is among the best authors of legal thrillers, right up there with Grisham and Turow.” – Lee Goldberg, #1 New York Times bestselling author

“An atmospheric legal novel that’s like crime noir set in sultry south Florida. A delightful, briskly-paced page-turner with a touch of social commentary…a richly satisfying story about a lawyer facing lifelong consequences that are quickly catching up to him.” – The Trial Lawyer

“A gripping and often quite an amusing thriller with a surprising climax, all of which is built around an intriguing cast of characters as it achieves an almost flawless rhythm.” – BookPleasures.com

“Bum Luck is a terrific legal thriller and humorous crime novel, but more than that Levine tackles a tough subject: CTE, chronic traumatic encephalopathy. Lots of twists and turns keep the pages turning and this was a one nighter for me.” – Bookbitch.com

“Truly a humorous, smart and enjoyable fast-paced read. – MysterySequels.com

“‘Bum Luck’ begins with one of the great opening hooks. ‘Thirty seconds after the jury announced its verdict, I decided to kill my client.’ Is any crime novelist funnier and more serious and more quotable than Levine?” – Mystery Scene

BUM RAP

“Law is a contact sport. Buckle your chinstrap.”

Bum Rap brings together hard-boiled lawyer Jake Lassiter with mismatched law partners Steve Solomon and Victoria Lord. Let the fireworks and shenanigans begin!

 Lassiter, our favorite linebacker-turned-lawyer, has had it with sleazy clients, shifty prosecutors, and a justice system out of whack.  He’s ready to call it quits when he gets a call from Victoria Lord. Her law partner and lover, Steve Solomon, has been charged with murder and needs the hardest-hitting lawyer in Miami to defend him.  Lassiter finds himself teamed up with Victoria – and more dangerously – attracted to her, too.

Bum Rap and all of Levine’s legal thrillers are FREE for Kindle Unlimited members here.

“Jake Lassiter.  The Jakester!  The mouthpiece who took the shy out of shyster and put the fog into pettifogger.” –State Attorney Ray Pincher in “Bum Rap”

For the two alpha male lawyers – Lassiter and Solomon – the chemistry is immediate.  They hate each other.  There’s chemistry, too, between Victoria and Lassiter…and their mutual attraction creates an ethical dilemma that could torpedo the defense.

The tale begins on South Beach when Solomon accompanies a new client – a stunning Bar girl named Nadia Delova – to Club Anastasia, where her job is to get men drunk and run up huge charges on their credit cards.  Solomon and Nadia confront club owner Nicolai Gorev, demanding Nadia’s back pay.  They argue; Gorev is shot dead; Nadia disappears; and the murder weapon is in Solomon’s hand.

To win the case, Jake and Victoria must find Nadia, who’s fled town one step ahead of the feds and the Russian mob.  Luckily, Lassiter remembers the advice from his college football coach: “Buckle your chinstrap and hit somebody!”

PRAISE FOR BUM RAP

“The pages fly by and the laughs keep coming in this irresistible South Florida crime romp. A delicious mix of thriller and comic crime novel.” – Booklist (starred review)

“Levine effectively blends a puzzling crime, intelligent sleuthing, adroit courtroom maneuvering, and a surprising attraction between Victoria and Jake in this welcome-addition to both series.” – Publishers Weekly

“Ebulliently seamless melding of Levine’s two legal-eagles series.” – Kirkus Reviews

“A highly entertaining look at the law, South Florida style…exactly what the summer needs. Levine deftly blends the characters from his two series into a seamless plot with plenty of twists. Jake, Steve, and Victoria make a formidable and amusing trio.” – Oline Cogdill, South Florida Sun-Sentinel

“Take some Russian mobsters, a mysterious jeweler, a murder, the disappearance of a bar girl and add a hilarious romp through Miami and this is really one to take to the beach.” – Amazon 5-star review

Bum Rap is one of those rarities: a thriller that is fun but still ever-so-gently makes you care about the characters. Welcome back, Mr. Levine, and thanks for bringing such an excellent book with you.” – Bookreporter.com

Bum Rap is Jake Lassiter’s greatest adventure as the tough-guy lawyer defends a murder trial with a fibbing client, a missing bar-girl and the Russian Mafia, all set in glitzy South Beach.” – Harlan Coben

“BUM DEAL” – Levine vs. Lassiter – Not the Final Chapter

Bum Deal

By Paul Levine and Jake Lassiter

Author’s Note: This is the last time I sit down with that belligerent, ungrateful wretch Jake Lassiter who owes his very existence to me. He first appeared To Speak for the Dead in 1990, and now thankfully a dozen books later, I’m bidding him goodbye in Bum Deal, in which he switches sides and prosecutes a murder trial while fighting off symptoms of chronic traumatic encephalopathy, the brain disease that afflicts former football players. So, no more banging heads in the courtroom. No more trading punches and badgering me with complaints. Sayonara, pal.

UPDATE, May 11, 2020: Whoops! Lassiter takes on a new case, tackling the college admissions scandal in Cheater’s Game. I told him he wasn’t physically up to it, but did he listen?

Paul: Sit down, Jake, and take a load off.

Jake: You busting my chops about my weight, noodle neck?

Paul: What are you these days, two-fifty, two-fifty-five?

Jake: You’re the one who writes the descriptions, scribbler. I remember in MORTAL SIN, you said I looked like a young Harrison Ford.

Paul: These days, it’s more like an old Ford pickup. I shouldn’t have fed you so many burgers, poured you so many beers.

Jake: I’m as health conscious as the next guy, as long as the next guy is sitting on a bar stool. (“I’m a brew and burger guy in a paté and Chardonnay world.”)

Paul: Maybe if you’d evolved into a modern man, you’d have a longer run.

Jake: Sorry that you can’t find my mug on Instagram. And that I don’t have a life coach, an aroma therapist, or a manicurist. And I sure as hell don’t do Pilates.

Paul: Forget all that. Let’s talk about BUM DEAL.

Jake: I’ve seen the promos. What’s this, “Jake Lassiter: The Final Chapter?”

Paul: BUM DEAL is the last of the series. That’s all. (Yeah, that’s what I thought at the time! Jake didn’t ask my permission before getting involved in CHEATER’S GAME.)

Jake: That’s all! I got no life outside those pages.

Paul: Time to hang up the briefcase, just like you hung up your cleats.

Jake: I didn’t retire. The Dolphins cut me, and I went to night law school.

Paul: Same deal here. You’ve lost a step in the courtroom. Face it, you’re getting along in years.

Jake: Look who’s talking! When are you moving into the Old Writers’ Home?

Paul: Deal with it, Jake. You’ve got brain damage from all those concussions playing football. Maybe you shouldn’t have run full speed into the goalposts. Or all those helmet-to-helmet tackles back in the day.

Jake: You made me do that, you pulp fiction masochist.

Paul: You lose your train of thought. You’re more ornery than usual.

Jake: Look who’s talking, or did I already say that? So what do you expect, people are gonna buy the first twelve books just to find out what happens to me in the thirteenth? bum rap bum luck bum deal

Paul: Every book in the Lassiter series stands alone. They can be read any order.

Jake: That’s right, the LASSITER SERIES! Not the Levine series. No one gives two hoots about you. It’s me, the hard-charging defense lawyer who’s the star.

Paul: In BUM DEAL, you switch sides and prosecute.

Jake: The hell you say! I’d never do that.

Paul: See, the ink is barely dry, and you’ve already forgotten. You’re appointed to prosecute a surgeon accused of killing his wife. Only one problem, or maybe three. No witness, no evidence, and no body.

Jake: That is a bum deal! You’re setting me up to lose.

Paul: Aren’t you the guy who says, “If your cause is just, no case is impossible.” It applies to the state, too.

Jake: That’s your wordsmithery. I just say the lines you feed me.

Paul: Oh, one more thing. Your pals Steve Solomon and Victoria Lord defend the case.

Jake: Who?

Paul: The lead characters in Solomon vs. Lord. Your best pals. See what I mean about your thought processes.

Jake: I’m just messing with you, word boy. But, please not Solomon and Lord. I taught those two kids all my tricks.

Paul: Sorry, Jake. You’ll just have to dig deep and try something new. How about sticking to the rules, standing by the facts, and living with the outcome?

Jake: Why do writers always say things in series of three?

Paul: Probably because it’s pleasing to the ear, easy on the brain, and part of hard-wiring.

Jake: Hilarious, pencil pusher. Say, why would I want to prosecute, anyway? My heart is with the little guy, not the behemoth of the state.

Paul: You’re burned out. Too many guilty clients over too many years.

Jake: There’s truth in that. I lose a lot. Or plead my guy guilty. It’s a dirty little secret, but that’s the deal with most criminal defense lawyers. If anyone knew our real winning percentage, they’d cop a quick plea or jump bail.

Paul: You’ve said that before, Jake. In BUM RAP. Remember?

Jake: Not my fault you’ve got so little imagination that I repeat myself, carbon copy boy. BUM RAP. BUM LUCK. BUM DEAL. What’s the next one, BUM BOOK? bum deal turow quote

Paul: You forget already? No next book. This is it. The end. The final chapter. Finis. No más.

Jake: Jeez, you’re depressing me.

Paul: Maybe this will cheer you up. Dr. Melissa Gold, an esteemed neuropathologist, takes an interest in you, during and after office hours.

Jake: So just as I’m losing my marbles, you’re giving me a lady that lasts? Is that fair?

Paul: That’s life, pal.

Jake: I hope you get carpal tunnel in both arms, smart guy. You got any other happy news?

Paul: Bum Deal opened as the number one bestselling new legal thriller on Amazon with 98% four and five star reviews.

Jake: Sometimes, 2% of the people are right. Tell me, this, you grim storytelling reaper. Is the last scene in the book my funeral?

Paul: Would I do that to you, Jake? Really. Would I?

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