Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Justice in June by Barbara Levenson

Reviewed for Review the Book
Published by Oceanview Publishing

Starting right off with the death of an informer, we meet Mary Magruder Katz, a criminal defense attorney in Miami, immediately thrown into heavyweight cases building up to overload. Her friend Judge Liz Maxwell is about to up the ante with a serious criminal investigation aimed at her, and needs Mary's legal assistance. It doesn't help that the dead informer was the main witness in a case that Judge Maxwell is trying.

If that were not enough, Mary's hunk of a boyfriend, Carlos, desperately needs help for his "cousin", actually the son of friends of the family, Luis. Luis was taken into custody as a terrorist on a business flight for his parents from his home in Argentina. He has completely disappeared into the Federal system with no information, no paper trail, no formal charges, and one partial phone call. Mary takes on all these cases with only one assistant. She knows she has serious and short deadlines to accomplish all this, and spends almost all her time on her work, until the threats begin.

It is June in Miami, and living up to its steamy hot weather. Not only is the weather stifling, but the caseload is threatening to stifle Mary for good. Are the threats related to the case for Luis? Possibly, but no one can find out where the Feds have him, he might even be out of the country. Are the threats related to her investigation of why Liz is in danger of being removed as a judge? Again, possibly, but who would be going after Liz? She appears to be honest and fair in her judgments. Certainly they can't have anything to do with a suit against Carlos, which has just been added to her caseload ... or can they?

Mary, though frightened having already been assaulted, is only more determined to carry on with all her cases regardless of the threats. When she gets a threatening call on her brand new Blackberry that she hasn't used, nor given out the number, and her home is broken into, she hightails it over to Carlos' with Sam, her dog, and moves in temporarily.

Barbara Levenson's writing is interesting, well researched, and filled with unique characters. The story is a blend of judicial, legal, and federal investigation and performance. It outlines the chaos and paranoia in the ongoing search for possible terrorists. It addresses greed and corruption as it can happen from within the judicial and the policing arenas, particularly with drug money involved. It also highlights the qualities of the honest in these same arenas. Bringing some light humor into play is the interaction between the parents of both Mary and Carlos, who have their own plans in play.

Mary Magruder Katz is an interesting character, one I would like to see grow. I enjoyed reading this book, and I appreciated Ms. Levenson's chapter breaks with subtitle whenever the storyline backtracks so the reader knows when there is a time shift. This is the second in a series and I will be looking for Fatal February, first in the series, and look forward to the third.

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