Jake Lassiter’s law practice is booming…
He’s crazy about the new woman in his life…
His delinquent nephew Kip is getting A’s in school…
What can go wrong?
Oh…how about a charge of first degree murder?
Is this the End of Jake Lassiter?
When money goes missing from client trust accounts, Jake confronts his banker, Pamela Baylins…who also happens to be his lover. She accuses Jake of skimming client funds; he accuses her of dipping into the till. She threatens to report him to the Florida Bar and the State Attorney…and within hours is killed. All the evidence points to Jake, who is charged with murder.
State vs. Lassiter is the tenth installment of the best-selling Jake Lassiter series, set in Miami and described by CNN’s Larry King as “courtroom drama at its very, very best.” The legal thriller was nominated for a Shamus Award by the Private Eye Writers of America.
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Read an Excerpt
I woke up spitting sand. Someone was kicking me in the ribs.
“You alive, pal?”
I lifted my head and shielded my eyes against the molten fireball rising from the ocean. Squinting into the sun, I saw a tanned young guy standing over me. Khaki shorts, white shirt with epaulets and a badge. His utility belt held a crackling radio. Beach Patrol. Glorified lifeguards with Tasers.
The guy dug a sneaker into my gut. “C’mon, get up.”
“Knock it off or I’ll break your leg.” I licked my parched lips and tasted blood.
What the hell happened last night?
I’d been with Pamela. My lover and, conveniently enough, my banker at Great Southern. It should have been a night of drinks, dinner, and sex. We’d done the drinking, but then came the accusations and denials. A shadowy memory crept up, like fog over the shoreline.
“What are you hiding, Pam?”
“Screw you, Jake! You’re not gonna pin this on me.”
“You’re the one moving the money.”
I remembered her raking me across the cheek with a handful of manicured nails. Now, touching my face, I felt tracks of dried blood. Then what happened? How’d I get here, face down on the beach? Hadn’t I rented a suite at the Fontainebleau? Until the blow-up, weren’t Pam and I celebrating the best fiscal report in the history of the Law Offices of Jacob Lassiter. Esq.? Weren’t we in love? At least, I thought we were.
“Unless you fell out of a boat, you’re breaking the law.” Mr. Beach Patrol again. “City Code section three-seventy-two, subsection B-1. No overnight camping on the beach.”
I let my head fall back to the sand. “Camping? Does it look like I’m toasting marshmallows?”
Sea birds pecked at the wet sand near my head. Breakfast time. I felt chilled. The incoming tide splashed my bare left foot. There was a brown suede shoe on my right foot. No sign of the left shoe. I wore taupe dress slacks and an unbuttoned blue silk shirt. My belt was missing. Had I been stripping for a nighttime swim when I passed out?
“On your feet, pal. Last time I’m gonna tell you.” He nudged me again with a sneaker.
“Go pound sand.” I laughed at my little joke and hacked up what tasted like the syrupy remnants of several margaritas.
“I’m responsible for Tenth Street Beach, and I’m giving you a direct order.”
Meaning I’d walked 30 blocks from the Fontainebleau before taking a snooze at the high tide line.
“Lemme alone,” I said.
“You want to get run-over? A half-track will be clearing seaweed in about five minutes.”
He drew his foot back to kick me again. I grabbed his other ankle and jerked hard. He tumbled backward, arms wheeling, fell to the ground. I got to one knee, but my head was filled with bowling balls, and I never made it to my feet. Flat on his back, Mr. Beach Patrol snaked the Taser from its holster and nailed me. I spasmed and toppled sideways, a buffalo hit by lightning. The pain rattled my teeth, and my brain blazed with a light brighter than the rising sun.
* * *
Ten minutes later, I was handcuffed and sitting cross-legged on the beach when a cop tricycle – okay, a three-wheel all-terrain vehicle pulled up – spraying me with sand. The Beach Patrol biker, an older guy with sergeant stripes, whispered to the young guy who’d microwaved me.
I couldn’t make out much. The words “Lassiter” and “cops” and “Fontainebleau” were being tossed around.
“You guys want to give me a ticket and get this over with?” I said.
They kept whispering.
“How ’bout cutting me a break and go piss on some tourists with jellyfish stings?”
The young guy let out a long, low whistle, then glanced at me. The sergeant clapped him on the back and said, “Well done,” as if he’d just busted John Dillinger or maybe cleaned all the bird poop from the beach.
“Mr. Lassiter, this is more serious than a ticket,” the sergeant said.
“C’mon, I was just sleeping off some tequila.” “Somebody back at the Fontainebleau wants to talk to you.”
“Detective Barrios, you know him?”
“Yeah. Why’s he want to see me?”
The sergeant and his pals exchanged get-a-load-of-this-guy looks. “Why do you think, Mr. Lassiter?”
“Not a clue.”
George Barrios was chief of Miami Beach Homicide.
What the hell could he want with me?