01/04/2009. Contributed by Jill Roberts
pub: Bantam Spectra. 467 page paperback. Price: $ 6.99 (US), $ 9.99 (CAN). ISBN: 0-440-25274-6.
check out website: www.bantamdell.com and www.paul-levine.com
This is the second in a series of books about the court cases of Steve Solomon and Victoria Law. They are attorneys-at-law in the Miami-Dade county.
Steven Solomon is a beach bum type, an ambulance-chasing type lawyer, whilst Victoria Lord, is a glamorous, blue-blooded Princeton graduate lawyer. Their methods and viewpoint are very different. Victoria goes by the book. Steve uses the law. Therefore they both work quire differently to each other, which is what makes their team-up work very well for Steve...
Our story begins with them on holiday, swimming in the ocean, and a huge powerboat crashing into the beach at Sunset Keys. Upon reaching the vessel, Victoria and Steve find one man unconscious from a blow to the head and another man with a shark spear sticking out of his chest.
To make matters a little complicated, the unconscious man is her uncle, Hal Griffin, the man with the spear embedded in his chest is a federal employee named Ben Stubbs and there are thousands of hundred dollar bills onboard the Force Majeure IV.
As Hal is here, its likely that Junior, her high school sweetheart, is also here, and is quite fit, tanned and very interested in getting back together with Victoria, much to Steve's annoyance. This re-appearance causes her to reappraise her personal and professional relationship with Steve.
About a year ago, Hal brought a small island called Paradise Key, and began plans for another building project. The plot centres around Hal's plans for a floating hotel and casino complex called Oceana. It will make a lot of profit for Hal, but cause total devastation to the local coral reefs and fish life for miles around. Not to mention the loss of work to local businesses and the decline in tourist trade.
We later find out that there is also a forty thousand dollar stash of money in Stubbs' hotel room, a bribe for him to drop the positive report for Oceana and shelve the project. Griffin has a history of building large resorts in environmentally sensitive area and this latest project, a floating hotel and casino, anchored to the sea bed is no exception. He plans to locate the complex among the living coral reef, disrupting the sensitive eco-system and the aquatic life that it currently sustains.
Steve has a list of everyone with an interest in the Oceana Project and who knew Hal Griffin was taking Stubbs out in the Force Majure IV from Paradise Key to Sunset Keys to meet up with Victoria and discuss the Project.
Brit Cliff Fowles, ex-Navy now seaplane pilot, boat captain and handyman for Hal Griffin, who hadn't wanted him on the boat this time, so he could show off to Stubbs. Leicester Robinson, owner of a barge company, with a contract to ferry the construction workers and materials to and fro from the Oceana site. Junior Griffin, Victoria's high school sweetheart, windsurfer, free diver and deeply committed environmentalist. Cuban Delia Bustamante, ex-girlfriend of Steve's and is on the Monroe County Environmental Advisory Board. Hal Griffin tried to bribe her by offering Delia a lucrative job on the Project but she turned him down.
So there is no shortage of suspects, though there are a few red herrings, false leads and plenty of action. Someone tries to kill Steve by running his car off the road. Actually it was a two lane bridge, his car goes through the barrier and he ends up in the water. In Victoria's hotel room, the shower temperature is turned way up, so at first in all the steam she doesn't see the poisonous coral snake that someone has deliberately put there. Plus the sub-plot of Steve trying to get his dad's bar licence back so he can get Herbert T. Solomon, chief criminal judge reinstated, even though the old man doesn't want him to.
Like most working relationships, this one has its ups and downs. To Steve, they are partners. To Victoria, he is the senior partner, he leads in the first chair. She just sits there in the second chair and impatient with this stagnation, wanting to grow and become more of an attorney.
As the story twists and turns, their problematic relationship outside the courtroom is equalled by their problems unravelling. Who killed Ben Stubbs and framed Hal Griffin and why, apart from getting the Oceana Project stopped, was he bribing Stubbs to write a favourable environmental report so that he could get a licence for the project that would eventually help no one but himself.
Not wanting to spoil the ending or say too much here, but I found this story very entertaining. If you like reading courtroom dramas or who-dun-its, then I can recommend this book as I enjoyed reading of their time in the courtroom, tracking down the suspects. Also the descriptions of locations and the verbal sparring matches; between Victoria and Steve, Victoria and her mother, Victoria and Steve and Hal. Also the twists and turns in the story until the final revelation. Much to Steve's annoyance the main culprit wasn't Junior...but Victoria and Steve do patch up their differences, so all's well that ends well.
I found this a lot more interesting than watching current episodes of 'CSI: Miami'.
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