Paul Levine Grills Jake Lassiter about BUM RAP

Bum-Rap-CoverJake Lassiter, the linebacker-turned-lawyer, first appeared in “To Speak for the Dead” in 1990. Twenty-five years later, he’s still defending murder trials and busting heads in his latest adventure, “Bum Rap.” This time, he teams up with Victoria Lord to represent her law partner Steve Solomon, who’s charged with killing a Russian mobster. Author Paul Levine interviews his shady hero with predictably hilarious results.

Paul: In “To Speak for the Dead,” you were 40 years old. In “Bum Rap,” 25 years later, you’re 48 and still ruggedly handsome. How do you do it?

Jake: Being fictional helps. By the way, you look like gator crap.

Paul: You’re just peeved because I gave you such a tough murder trial to defend.

Jake: “Peeved?” Maybe you should be writing for “Downton Abbey.”

Paul: Tell us about defending Steve Solomon, a lawyer with even more flexible ethics than yours.

Jake: Cheap shot, scribbler. I won’t lie to a judge, bribe a cop, or use perjured testimony.

Paul: But apparently, you will make a pass at your client’s lover, Victoria Lord.

Jake: “Make a pass?” Is that what they call it at the Old Writers’ Home?Paul-Levine-owned-photo-in-study

Paul: Whatever the term, isn’t it unethical to fool around with Victoria while Steve is in jail awaiting trial?

Jake: I’m not bad. You just write me that way.

Paul: Victoria Lord is beautiful, brilliant, and very proper. She believes in the majesty of the legal system.

Jake: She’s young. She’ll get over it.

Paul: She honors that sign over the judge’s bench: “We Who Labor Here Seek Only Truth.”

Jake: There ought to be a footnote. “Subject to the truth being ignored by lying witnesses, concealed by sleazy lawyers, excluded by inept judges, and overlooked by lazy jurors.”

Paul: My point is, she’s a thoroughly modern professional woman. And you’re…

Jake: Careful…if you’re planning on using those fingers for typing.

Paul: You’re an ex-jock, a big galoot, a throwback.

Jake: Guilty as charged. I don’t have a life coach or an aroma therapist, and I sure as hell don’t do Pilates. I’m a carnivore among vegans, a brew and burger guy in a Chardonnay and paté world.

Paul: Do you agree with Steve Solomon who says, “When the law doesn’t work…work the law.”

Jake: He must have learned that at Key West School of Law. A little slippery for my tastes.

Paul: And your philosophy?

Jake: When the law doesn’t work, punch somebody.

Paul: Really?

Jake: Buckle your chin strap, buster. Law is a contact sport.

Paul: Dig deeper, Lassiter. C’mon, you’re my alter ego. You can do better.

Jake: All right, smart guy. Put this in your hard drive. True justice is damn near impossible to achieve. But rough justice is better than none at all.

Paul: That’s better. Anything else?

Jake: If your cause is just, no case is impossible.

Paul: Now we’re getting somewhere. Let me ask you a tough question.

Jake: Careful, pal. They don’t call me a shark for my ability to swim.

Paul: In “Bum Rap,” you let two Russian bar-girls take you to a club where they touch you provocatively, and you run up a huge liquor tab. What’s with that?

Jake: Oh, like you’ve never done it.

Paul: Only for research. And you?

Jake: A missing bar-girl is the key to the Solomon murder trial. I needed to fool around with a couple of her friends to find her. The things I do for clients!

Paul: Without giving away any big twists in the book, can you tell us if you and Victoria Lord might have a future?

Jake: Not entirely up to me, is it scribbler?

Paul  worked as a newspaper reporter, a law professor and a trial lawyer before becoming a full-time novelist. Obviously, he cannot hold a job. Paul claims that writing fiction comes naturally: he told whoppers for many years in his legal briefs.

His books have been translated into 23 languages, none of which he can read. His most recent, BUM RAP, is available now in print, audio and ebook formats from Thomas & Mercer.