Monday, June 18, 2012

LASSITER - Paul Levine

As I've mentioned, June is Audiobook Month! I have several audiobook reviews to catch up on, so now is a perfect time to do that. If you've been hesitant to try audiobooks in the past, why not use this month to try one out. Visit your library, I'm sure they have a great selection. Today, I'd like to tell you about Paul Levine's LASSITER:

First line: "I presented my Florida Bar card at the security window and eased onto a metal bench that would likely throw my back out if the wait lasted more than a few minutes."

Jake Lassiter is a former pro-football player turned defense attorney. His clients tend to be on the shady side and mostly on the low-income side. He's a man of many contradictions: a player when it comes to women and a supportive uncle raising his young nephew. A lawyer with questionable clients who, at the end of the day, is out to do the right thing. His complexity is a large part of what makes this novel engaging. Peter Berkrot has a good grasp on this man of many contradictions. He brings out Lassiter's humor, his remorse, his passion and his laissez faire attitude.

In LASSITER, Jake is haunted by his past when the sister of a woman he knew - for about 12 hours - years ago walks into his life. Amy is looking for Krista who disappeared eighteen years ago, not long after she and Lassiter shared a one-night stand. Jake's conscience gets the better of him and soon he finds himself trying to help Amy find out exactly what happened to her sister all those years ago. But when Jake snags a lead on who Krista was with just before her disappearance, the man ends up shot to death...with Amy's gun. Amy swears she isn't the shooter and Jake now has to prove her innocence. But Jake has stepped into a mess of corruption, greed and murder, a mess he may not be able to sweet talk his way out of.

LASSITER is the seventh book in Paul Levine's Jake Lassiter series, but readers and listeners can easily enjoy LASSITER without the benefit of the earlier books in the series.

The book is chock full of Levine's humor; his womanizing protagonist can be crude at times but redeems himself through his devotion to his family, his belief in the imperfect legal system and his dogged determination. Berkrot found this precise balance in his portrayal of Lassiter. Leaning too much one way or the other on this character would change the whole atmosphere of the novel.

Berkrot also did a commendable job juggling the various dialects, genders and age ranges. Jake lives with his grandmother and his adolescent nephew. His case had him dealing with a porn kingpin, a crime kingpin and a Hispanic prosecutor. Berkrot brought each of these distinctly different characters to life through their individuality. It was clear through his narration that he had a superb understanding of each character.

Likewise, AudioGo's production of the LASSITER allowed Berkrot's excellent narration to blend seamlessly into the story-telling. Distracting noises, such as loud breaths or mispronunciations are non-existent so the audience can easily fall into the world Paul Levine created.

My only beef with the overall experience of LASSITER comes because I'm a Northeast Ohio girl, born and bread. Levine has Amy Lansky coming from Toledo, Ohio. While Berkrot nailed the pronunciation - believe me I've heard many decimate the name Toledo - Levine refers to Toledo as Podunk, Ohio. Toledo may not be a New York City or Los Angeles or even Miami, but it's far from Podunk. Ohio has plenty of Podunk...but Toledo isn't it. I'm sure, though, if I can overlook this detail, you'll be able to as well!

LASSITER is available on audio (ISBN: 9781609987756) from AudioGo. The unabridged version is seven CDs totally 8 hours and 41 minutes. It's also available as a download through Audible or directly through AudioGo. If you'd prefer to read LASSITER in print, it's available as a trade paperback (ISBN:  9781475115208)


Harvee Lau July 2, 2012 at 7:00 AM  

Unfortunately for Toledo, I am inclined to agree with Levine about Podunk, Ohio.


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