Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Fatal February-Barbara Levenson

Fatal February
Barbara Levenson
Oceanview, Feb 2009, $22.95
ISBN: 9781933515526

Miami criminal defense attorney Mary Magruder Katz agrees to defend Lillian Yarmouth, accused of stabbing to death her womanizing husband Gary in their affluent home in Coconut Grove; she was hired because her brother did the Yarmouth’s will. The mixed breed Southern Baptist Jew finds a unique way to obtain a new client. Her car is hit from behind by obnoxious wealthy developer Carlos Martin at the car wash. When he learns she is a lawyer he hires her to help close a $6 million dollar deal.

Attracted to one another, Carlos and Mary make love in her office. However, her tryst is seen by her boss who is also her fiancé Franklin Fieldstone; he fires her as his future wife and from his firm, and files an ethics charge to the Florida State bar for having sex with a client so he can keep the firm from trouble. Feeling a bit of guilt but more euphoriic, Carlos helps Mary set up her own practice even as she defends herself to the legal review board while also preparing Yarmouth’s defense.

This is a fun legal thriller starring a feisty heroine who is not afraid to speak out when her rights even as simple as being pushed from her spot in the car wash due to extra money passing hands occur. The trial of Lillian is well written though some aspects of the defense are portrayed as discussions between Mary and Carlos, for instance obtaining Lillian’s release. That technique is a bit passive, but also allows a relationship between the lawyer and the builder to develop. Fans will enjoy this engaging tale of a life ruined and rebuilt starting and ending with the car wash blues.

Harriet Klausner