MORTAL SIN is Paul Levine's fourth Jake Lassiter novel. Having learned the lessons about excess represented by FALSE DAWN, Levine has written a superbly crafted and finely focused thriller. MORTAL SIN is well deserving of its John D. MacDonald Award, and certainly lives up to its dedication page to MacDonald and its strong debt to Travis McGee.
Entirely a South Florida story, MORTAL SIN is a tale of corruption, payola and murder with excellent pacing and a completely plausible premise and characters. Levine never lets go of the reins. MORTAL SIN is a fine showcase for his talents as a writer.
Jake Lassiter, the ex-Miami Dolphins linebacker, ex-Public Defender, ex-a lot of things, sets out to defend real estate developer Nicky Florio in a wrongful death suit brought by Melinda Tupton, the widow of crusading environmentalist Peter Tupton who froze to death on the hottest day of the year at Florio's pool party.
Complications arise. Jake is having what lawyers quaintly term a 'meretricious relationship' with Florio's wife Gina, formerly Star Hampton, retired Dolphin Doll and Jake's old live-in girlfriend. And on the last day of trial, Jake uncovers evidence that the 'wrongful death' he has just successfully defended may in fact be murder.
A chance remark to Nicky Florio---and Jake finds himself embroiled in a vast cover-up, running for his life through the dusty courthouses of Miami, the trendy clubs of South Beach, the retirement hotels of North Beach, the golf courses that dot Dade, Broward and Palm Beach Counties, and finally, the vast 'River of Grass,' otherwise known as the environmentally sensitive Everglades, targeted and encroached upon by men like Florio.
A single sitting enjoyable read with some laugh-out-loud humor, wistful nostalgia, and respect for the natural world of its setting, MORTAL SIN is one of the best entries in the Jake Lassiter series, and comes very highly recommended.