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Debra Hamel is the mother of two preternaturally attractive girls and the author of a number of books about ancient Greece. She writes and blogs from her subterranean lair in North Haven, CT. Read more.


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THE BATTLE OF ARGINUSAE :
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KILLING ERATOSTHENES:
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READING HERODOTUS:
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ANCIENT GREEKS IN DRAG:
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IT WAS A DARK AND STORMY TWEET:
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PRISONERS OF THE PELOPONNESIAN WAR
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Levine, Paul: To Speak for the Dead

  Amazon  

3.5 stars

To Speak for the Dead is the first book in Paul Levine's series featuring Miami trial lawyer Jake Lassiter. In this outing Jake is defending Roger Salisbury on a malpractice charge: the grieving widow's lawyer claims that Roger nicked Philip Corrigan's aorta during a routine operation, resulting in his death some hours later. The disc surgery may have been run-of-the-mill, but what happened afterwards was anything but. Levine does a good job of laying out the medical case--why Roger is unlikely to have slipped during the procedure as the prosecution alleges, why it doesn't make sense, given the medical evidence, for Corrigan to have died as he did. It turns out there's much more to the story than comes out at the trial. For one thing, Roger and the widow have a history, one that started in a strip club about a decade earlier: Melanie Corrigan is not the demure, glove-wearing socialite she pretends to be on the witness stand.

Jake Lassiter is a likable character, an unattached, one-time college football player who approaches life and lawyering with irreverence. This is the first Lassiter novel I've read, but I'm familiar with Levine's more recent legal series, the Solomon v. Lord books, and Jake is a toned-down version of Paul Solomon--who's a little more irreverent, a little more likely to end up in contempt of court. I actually found it difficult to separate the two characters in my head. The Lassiter series, like the Solomon v. Lord novels, is set in Florida, and the setting is an important part of the book's character--the oppressive heat and the swamps and the steaming Miami streets forming an essential backdrop.

The book has some cartoonish elements that I could have done without. Jake's "Granny Lassiter" is over the top, and there's one too many car rides with corpses in the backseat for me to suspend disbelief. Another negative is that Jake's relationship with Susan Corrigan--daughter of the deceased--progresses too quickly to be quite credible. But on the whole I like the book and would read more in the series.

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