By Paul Levine
In legal thrillers, rough justice is better than none at all. To explain, let’s start with a quote from my favorite fictional lawyer.
“We eat what we kill. Hey, they don’t call us sharks for our ability to swim.” – Jake Lassiter
It’s been twenty-five years since Jake Lassiter uttered those words in TO SPEAK FOR THE DEAD, the first of my series of legal thrillers featuring the linebacker-turned-lawyer.
Now, Lassiter defends Steve Solomon, who’s accused of killing a South Beach nightclub owner. To win the case, Lassiter must find a missing bar-girl, battle Russian gangsters, and avoid being indicted himself. Complicating everything: he thinks his client is lying…and he’s falling for the client’s lover, Victoria Lord.
That’s the setup for my legal thriller, BUM RAP, which hit number one in the Kindle Store and lodged me briefly in the top spot of all authors on Amazon, just ahead of a promising fellow scribbler named Stephen King.
BUM RAP gives readers a chance to see how Lassiter has developed over the years. In the past, despite all his grumbling about ungrateful clients and lousy judges, he remained an optimist:
“If your cause is just, no case is impossible.” – LAST CHANCE LASSITER
Yet, he rejects the lofty language on the sign in the courtroom: “We Who Labor Here Seek Only the Truth.”
“There ought to be a footnote: subject to the truth being ignored by lying witnesses, concealed by sleazy lawyers, excluded by inept judges, and overlooked by lazy jurors.” – NIGHT VISION
Legal Thrillers: The Games Lawyers Play
He knows the games lawyers play, in and out of court:
“A good lawyer is part con man, part priest…promising riches if you pay the fee, damnation if you don’t.” – STATE vs. LASSITER
He turns down cases, even when he needs the money:
“I could have used the work, but I prefer cases I believe in. Best is to have a client you like, a cause that’s just, and a check that doesn’t bounce. Two out of three and you’re ahead of the game.” – FLESH & BONES
Lassiter looks for loopholes in the Canons of Ethics:
“I won’t lie to a judge, bribe a cop, or sleep with a client’s wife…unless I knew her first.” – MORTAL SIN
That noted writer of legal thrillers, William Shakespeare, famously penned: “What’s past is prologue.” (I consider “The Merchant of Venice” one of the early legal thrillers. Talk about rough justice!)
Lassiter’s view is a little more earthy:
“Our past clings to us like mud on rusty cleats.” – BUM RAP
Against all odds, Lassiter still believes in justice, or at least, his version of it:
“Justice is the North Star, the burning bush, the holy virgin. It cannot be bought, sold, or mass produced. Justice is intangible and invisible, but if you are to spend your life in its pursuit, it is best to believe that it exists. When you fail, fight for the next best thing. Rough justice is better than none at all.” – LASSITER
Legal Thrillers: Rough Justice Isn’t Pretty
So just what is rough justice? Pretty much, the ends justify the means. A murderer beats the rap but takes the fall for a crime he didn’t commit. Or vigilante justice or personal retribution. Hey, I didn’t say rough justice was pretty.
This is the key to Lassiter’s character in all eleven of his legal thrillers. He believes in the overriding importance of the quest for justice. He will work outside the law to obtain a just result, or some close approximation. Twenty-five years after starting the quest, he’s still hard at work on the job.
BUM RAP is available in e-book, print, and audio, and all of the Lassiter legal thrillers can be found on Paul Levine’s AMAZON AUTHOR PAGE. Kindle Unlimited members read FREE. Just a few bucks for everyone else. Kindle Unlimited is now available in USA, UK, Canada, Mexico, India, Brazil, Germany, France, Spain, and Japan).