By David Heinzmann
Reviewed by Jacalyn N. Kolk
The main character in Throwaway Girl is a lawyer turned private investigator who started out as an FBI agent and has the unlikely name of Augustine Flood. The assignment Flood takes on will require all the skills he acquired in each of those occupations.
Flood, the all-too-human lawyer/PI, is hired by powerful Chicago lawyers after a beautiful, purposeful young woman drowns in Lake Michigan with no known witnesses. The young woman was also very rich and used her own time, talent, and money to help young girls get out of a trade that had no bright future. The young woman’s mother wants to know what happened and is not convinced it was suicide, as the police seem inclined to accept. The rest of the young woman’s family, however, seems less interested in learning the truth.
There are undercurrents of the dark issues our society faces: alcoholism, gang wars, economic disparity, gas consumption, foreign wars, drug trade, and corrupt law enforcement officers. Organized crime bosses lurk in the background, but it is all portrayed as a rather disorganized crime market.
The mystery holds the reader’s attention as Flood follows leads from Chicago to Mississippi to Las Vegas to Los Angeles. In addition to being entertained, the reader can’t help but think about possible solutions to the problems Flood faces. Through the darkness he encounters, there is hope.
It is hard to see how people get into such difficult situations and to believe that the United States actually has an underage sex trade. Perhaps the Chicago Tribune reporter and author used his literary license; after all, Throwaway Girl is a novel. I’m afraid, though, that we might be shocked to know how close to the truth it is.
A Chicago lawyer told me this book was good, and it is. It would also be a good movie. The author clearly knows his city, and the book even makes a good guide to Chicago.
Throwaway Girl (330-pp., hardcover) is part of the Five Star Mystery Series and is available at Amazon.com for $25.95.
Jacalyn N. Kolk is a Bar member and sole practitioner in Panama City.
By Kenneth Studstill
In this story of unvarnished greed and corruption, a good man — Kevin Charles, a Florida attorney — is mystified as his professional and personal life begins to collapse soon after he is fired by his client Victoria Roberts. A very fetching woman with an innocent, yet sensuous charm, she also has a multimillion dollar case for the wrongful death of her husband. Charles knows why she terminates him as her attorney, but the destruction of his life that follows lacks any kind of rational explanation.
First, the legal bar brings a grievance against him alleging forced sex with a client. Then the state charges him with the crime of rape, and his wife files for divorce. Finally, he is excluded as one of a few attorneys slated to make a fortune in a lawsuit against big tobacco companies.
Victoria is obviously responsible for Charles’ slide down the slippery slope to professional oblivion and possibly prison. But is she acting alone? Did she lie for some nefarious reason, or is she simply delusional? If she is not crazy, someone else must be involved, but who?
After investigating one dead end after another, Kevin doesn’t have a clue who is really destroying his life. With little left but hope, the mystery begins to unravel from an unlikely source: The trial prosecutor tells him he smells a rat. Eventually, Victoria, disillusioned of her complicity in destroying Kevin, seeks forgiveness and tells him of the insidious plan by someone he believed to be a friend, to exclude him from the lawsuit against big tobacco. Despite being fully aware of her chicanery, he does not seek to have her arrested and prosecuted. Instead, he uses her to wreak revenge, and in doing so, he completely compromises his personal and professional principles.
Morally bankrupt and haunted by what he has done, Charles ends up in California, where this thriller comes to a surprise ending.
The main story — Charles’ fall from a prosperous legal practice and his ultimate rise from a desperate life — is an exposition interspersed with chapters of his current life, particularly his relationship with a sweet woman, Jean.
Studstill’s third novel, Treacherous Obsession has created a fictional story intertwined with an actual event. The author’s legal perception of the state’s suit against big tobacco, expressed through the fictional Kevin Charles, will leave the reader with a lot to think about.
Treacherous Obsession (Bookbaby, 395-pp.) is available as an e-book on Amazon.com for $7.99.
By Paul Levine
In Lassiter, renegade lawyer Jake Lassiter makes his first appearance since 1997’s Flesh & Bones. The former Miami Dolphin is still swimming with sharks in this suspense novel by Paul Levine.
Eighteen years ago, Lassiter crossed paths with a teenage runaway who vanished into South Florida’s sex trade. When her beautiful and mysterious sister, Amy Larkin, shows up in Miami to investigate, she accuses Lassiter of being involved in the disappearance. What does Lassiter know about Krista Larkin, the runaway teen turned porn actress? More than he’s saying.
Seeking to atone for his own past, Lassiter follows Krista’s ice-cold trail and butts heads with some powerful men from her checkered past: a former porn king turned philanthropist, a slick Cuban-born prosecutor who’d love to be governor, and an aging mobster who once “cleaned up messes” for the infamous Meyer Lansky.
Evidence points to a night, long-ago, full of kinky sex, designer drugs — and possible murder. But before Lassiter can nail the truth, the gun goes off, a suspect falls dead, and Amy is charged with murder.
Did Amy shoot the man who killed her sister, or the wrong person entirely? What really happened to Krista? The answers, buried under years of deceit and corruption, are revealed in an explosive courtroom finale proving that rough justice is better than no justice at all.
Fight the Good Fight
By Spencer Silverglate
Have you ever asked yourself the big questions in life: Why am I here? What principles do I hold dear? Is there a God, and what does he expect of me?
After losing both parents as a teenager, Miami-Dade attorney Spencer Silverglate spent 30 years searching for the answers to these oft-asked questions. Now a trial lawyer with a family of his own, Silverglate shares his insight in Fight the Good Fight. Written as a letter to his teenage son, the book takes timeless principles and boils them down to 10 life lessons:
• It’s not about you;
• You can live without anything — except purpose;
• Life is hard — choose to fight;
• Character is what you do when no one is looking;
• Most of life is about showing up;
• Whatever you choose to do, do it with all your heart;
• Worldly pursuits will never satisfy you completely;
• You were destined for greatness;
• You were born for love; and
• Life is a journey, not a destination.
Fight the Good Fight (208-pp.) is available from Amazon.com for $14.95.
Adoption and Surrogacy in Florida
By Melissa A. Tartaglia
More than 5,000 public and private adoptions were finalized in Florida during 2009, and this number is expected to increase annually.
Melissa Tartaglia, whose legal practice in Port Richey focuses on adoption and surrogacy, presents the pros and cons of the wide range of adoption choices available in Florida, along with invaluable step-by-step tips on completing appropriate legal paperwork, in this easy-to-use sourcebook. She provides specific real-world examples and scenarios to help explain the procedures and how best to approach potential pitfalls.
Suitable for laypersons considering adoption as well as lawyers who need a quick, single-source reference, Adoption and Surrogacy in Florida is a complete and accessible guide to navigating the state’s sometimes unintuitive adoption and surrogacy legal requirements. It encompasses adoption and surrogacy processes from beginning to end: finding a child or gestational surrogate; drafting an enforceable contract; obtaining a home-study; locating the right physicians; satisfying legal requirements; and bringing an action for adoption or determination of parental status.
Providing information on dozens of invaluable resources, an explanation of applicable statutes and procedures in layman’s terms, checklists, a CD containing downloadable legal forms, and detailed instructions, Adoption and Surrogacy in Florida (320-pp., softcover) is available from University Press of Florida, www.upf.com, for $40.