Suffering brain damage from his days as a football player, Jake Lassiter says goodbye to the courtroom…until his nephew Kip desperately needs his help. Kip has been working with millionaire Max Ringle in a shady scheme to help rich, entitled kids gain admission to elite universities.
The mastermind of the fraud, Ringle cops a plea to save his own hide and shifts the blame to Kip who’s charged with multiple federal crimes. Dr. Melissa Gold, a famed neurologist and Lassiter’s fiancée, supervises experimental treatments intended to keep the ailing lawyer strong enough for a grueling trial. As a fiery showdown looms with Ringle, Lassiter risks everything – including his own life – to keep his nephew out of prison.
A Kindle Unlimited title, “Cheater’s Game” may be ordered HERE.
PRAISE FOR “CHEATER’S GAME”
“A riveting legal thriller that Grisham fans will love.” —Blue Ink (starred review)
“The recent college admissions scandal provides the spark for Edgar finalist Levine’s clever [and] exciting ‘Cheater’s Game.’” —Publishers Weekly
“Clever, funny and seriously on point when it comes to the inequities of society and the justice system, Cheater’s Game is top-notch stuff from Paul Levine. His Jake Lassiter is my kind of lawyer!” —Michael Connelly, New York Times #1 Bestselling Author
“One seismic courtroom battle…an occasion for pyrotechnics that really blaze.” —Booklist
“Paul Levine, whose ‘Solomon vs Lord’ was named one of the ‘Best Legal Thrillers of the 21st Century,’ is again firing on all cylinders. ‘Cheater’s Game’ is a razor-sharp, rollicking legal thriller that deftly transforms the college admissions scandal into a hugely entertaining crime story.” —BestThrillers.com
“Only a writer as experienced, clever, funny, and flat-out brilliant as Paul Levine could make the legal issues of the college scandal so clear and also so ridiculously entertaining. The courtroom scenes not only ring with authenticity, they zing with wit, intelligence, and pure fun.” —Lee Goldberg, New York Times #1 Bestselling Author
“Great reading and great courtroom drama. A highly recommended read.” —Book Review Crew
“The courtroom scenes fly by in a flurry of cross-examination, colorful witnesses, and creative legal shenanigans. Clever foreshadowing hints at big twists without robbing them of their effectiveness. The trial races toward a conclusion that is both satisfying and startling.” —Foreword Reviews
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.
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.”
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.
“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, the linebacker-turned-lawyer, first appeared in “To Speak for the Dead” in 1990. Thirty years later, Lassiter is still navigating the shark-infested waters of the justice system. In “Cheater’s Game,” the heartbroken lawyer must defend his brilliant nephew Kip who’s charged as an imposter, taking entrance exams for students in the true-to-life college admissions scandal.
Jake: I wish I’d repped them, instead of my nephew. A fat fee without having to try the case.
Paul: That’s a little cynical. What about your quest for justice?
Jake: Justice doesn’t put pork chops on the table.
Paul: So why did they plead guilty after claiming innocence for the past year?
Jake: Because their lawyers aren’t idiots. They knew that jurors would find their clients to be rich, arrogant liars who thought they could game the system.
Paul: Are you saying that a defendant’s personality affects a trial’s outcome?
Jake: Duh! It’s Trial Practice 101.
Paul: So you would have plead out Lori Loughlin in return for a couple months prison time, rather than risk a trial?
Jake: Maybe not. Maybe, I’d put her on the stand, but not in designer duds. She’d admit everything and cry – actress tears – and say she’s sorry. Then, in closing argument I’d ask for a “Texas verdict.”
Paul: Which is?
Jake: “Not guilty, but don’t do it again.”
Paul: Okay, back to “Cheater’s Game,” I thought you’d retired, but here you are, back in the courtroom.
Jake: Don’t blame me, Scribbler. I hung up my briefcase after “Bum Deal,” but you put me to work again.
Paul: Admit it, Jake. You missed the combat of a criminal trial.
Jake: That’s your fantasy, Desk Jockey. Mine is to snooze in a hammock, drink tequila, and feed the peacocks.
Paul: You came back because your nephew Kip got in trouble. The boy you raised as your own son. That had to be painful.
Jake: I thought I’d taught Kip ethics and values, but I failed. I let him down.
“You release your child into the world, like launching a toy sailboat in a pond. Except the world is not a placid pond. More often, it is a raging sea, and life a perfect storm. You cannot prepare the child because your own personal crises, traumas and failures are just that, your own. Your child, as you will belatedly learn, is not you.” – Jake Lassiter in “Cheater’s Game”
Paul: There’s a lot of blame to go around in the college scandal.
Jake: I don’t understand it. Why would parents cheat to get their kids into so-called elite universities? Don’t they realize they’re saying, “You can’t make it on your own? And your only honors will be summa cum fraud.”
“In a society without shame, where faking it is making it and deceit trumps virtue, integrity is for losers and cheaters win. Fairness? Forget about it! A meritocracy? In your dreams! Earn your diploma? Why bother, when you can buy it?” – Jake Lassiter in “Cheater’s Game”
Paul: Yet, you plead your nephew “not guilty” and defend him in federal court when you know he took students’ SAT exams for big bucks?
Jake: All these years, Scribbler, and you’re still clueless about the justice system. My job is to force the government to prove its case.
Paul: Speaking of “years,” you were 40 in “To Speak for the Dead.” Thirty years later, you’re 60. How does that work?
Jake: Being fictional helps. Say, how are things at the Old Writers’ Home?
Paul: Forget about me. How’s your health? Your headaches, your memory problems.
Jake: You’re the punk who gave me chronic traumatic encephalopathy. I didn’t think you could even spell it.
Paul: Sorry about all those concussions at Penn State and with the Miami Dolphins. But it did bring you together with Dr. Melissa Gold, renowned neuropathologist. And…your fiancée.
Jake: About time you gave me a grown-up relationship, after all those femme fatales and floozies.
Jake: News flash, Word Boy. You’re the ventriloquist. But it’s true that I’m in love with my doctor and she’s come up with experimental treatments that might help hundreds of other former players with C.T.E.
Paul: Would your brain injury have anything to do with your bizarre conduct during Kip’s trial?
Jake: You mean my hearing voices and lapsing into a George Carlin routine in the judge’s chambers?
Paul: Judge Speidel said you were flirting with contempt.
Jake: Flirting, hell! I took her all the way.
Paul: Judge Speidel seemed miffed that you didn’t give him due respect.
Jake: Federal judges! So damned high and mighty.
“Federal judges are phantoms who inhabit marble palaces, hidden from prying eyes and cameras. They sit on thrones and are served by a retinue of clerks, assistants, deputies, and, for all I know, court jesters.” – Jake Lassiter in “Cheater’s Game”
Paul: Face it, Jake. Your closing argument was unethical.
Jake: I’m not bad. You just write me that way.
Paul: You basically asked for “jury nullification.” Acquit my client even though he did everything the government charged him with.
Jake: I prefer to call it a “Texas verdict.” Do you know what that is?
Paul: You just told me a minute ago. So…what was the jury’s verdict?
Jake: I’d tell you if I could remember. But you’re the one who gave me memory problems, you multisyllabic babbler!
Paul: I’m not the one who told you to use your helmet as a battering ram.
Jake: You put me on the kickoff team, the suicide squad! What did you think would happen?
Paul: So, what now? You gonna retire again or smash down the doors to the courthouse and try another case?
Jake: Not up to me, is it, Svengali?
Paul: Now that you mention it, there’s a case I just heard about that’s right up your alley.
Jake: Great. You know what I always say?
Paul: Of course, I do.
Jake: “I want a cause that’s just, a client I like, and a check that doesn’t bounce. Two out of three, and I’m ahead of the game.” So, I’ll see you around, Scribbler.
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