LAST CHANCE LASSITER is a prequel to TO SPEAK FOR THE DEAD, which introduced south Florida attorney Jake Lassiter to the world. Author Paul Levine advises in his introduction that this novella tells the tale of how Lassiter, employed by a “deep carpet” (what we up north call a “white shoe”) law firm, came to quit (or be fired) and what transpired immediately thereafter. This eBook original fills a narrative hole; it provides an introduction to readers unfamiliar with the series and, more importantly, an entertainment value easily worth double the price of admission.
"LAST CHANCE LASSITER is cleverly plotted and well written, but the primary elements here are the dialogue and characterization, both of which are first-rate. Anyone who has had even elevator contact with a lawyer will love this eBook from beginning to end."
While Levine can be credited with writing the book, its pedigree is equal parts thriller and lawyer jokes, with the emphasis on the latter. LAST CHANCE LASSITER is notable for an absence of explosions, and no one (well, almost no one) gets physically hurt. Still, there is quite a bit riding on Lassiter’s first case as a legal free agent.
Following his tumultuous exit from the firm at the behest of senior partner Lyle Krippendorf, Lassiter is retained by a legendary but impoverished musician named Cadillac Johnson to represent him in a music plagiarism case. Superstar rapper M.C. Silky has crafted an extremely popular and profitable track around an obscure hit of Johnson’s that was originally recorded in the 1950s. Oddly enough, Johnson was referred to Lassiter by Krippendorf. Lassiter concludes (correctly) that Krippendorf would do that because 1) the firm is representing Silky, and 2) Krippendorf believes Lassiter is a screw-up.
Big mistake. Lassiter may not color inside the legal lines, but he is a tenacious adversary when he feels his cause is just. The problem here is that Silky and Krippendorf have deep pockets that are filled to the brim and are not afraid of using the contents to buy their own version of justice. There’s also the matter of Kim Coates, Lassiter’s ex-girlfriend, who is a member of Krippendorf’s law firm and is being fast-tracked for partnership. As if all of that weren't enough, Lassiter is being sued by the erstwhile client who got him fired/caused him to quit in the first place. Add on some disciplinary proceedings, and you'd think that he'd sink under the weight of his own juices. The fun here is watching him tread waters against all odds and ultimately triumph without even getting wet. Well, he’s a little damp by the end, but that’s part of the enjoyment of it.
LAST CHANCE LASSITER is cleverly plotted and well written, but the primary elements here are the dialogue and characterization, both of which are first-rate. Anyone who has had even elevator contact with a lawyer will love this eBook from beginning to end.
Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub on July 13, 2012