Part Con Man, Part Priest
"They don't call us sharks for our ability to swim."
So says Jake Lassiter in Flesh & Bones. Or rather, he thinks it in interior dialogue, sometimes called interior monologue. It's one way to reveal character and answer the reader's question: Just who is this guy, anyway?
I'll let Jake answer that question, but first I wanted you to know that the international bestseller Flesh & Bones is now an e-book priced for a short time at $0.99, with all proceeds going to Hershey Children's Hospital for cancer treatment.
Now back to Jake: "A good lawyer is part con man, part priest - promising riches, threatening hell. The rainmakers are the best paid and have coined a remarkably candid phrase: We eat what we kill."
The linebacker-turned-lawyer is a brew and burger guy in a pate and Chardonnay world. Noting the sign over the judge's bench -- "We who labor here seek only the truth ..." -- he adds his own footnote: "Subject to the truth being concealed by lying witnesses, distorted by sleazy lawyers and excluded by inept judges."
In Flesh & Bones, Jake's client, model Chrissy Bernhardt, is accused of killing her father, claiming she had been raped by him as a child. Jake seethes at hearing this. Anger is not usually helpful in making important decisions, but with Jake, his fury helps form his legal strategy:
"The male animal. At the low end of the evolutionary scale, he lords his physical superiority over women, beating and raping. At the very bottom, this horned beast is the father who would rape his own child. For a moment, I felt like killing Harry Bernhardt myself. Which made me think ... if I get the jury to feel the same way, maybe I can win this case."
Complicating the murder trial, Jake falls for his client, while at the same time doubting her truthfulness. All of which creates an ethical dilemma:
"My ethical rules are simple. I won't lie to the court or let a client do it. But I've never been in this position before. How far would I go for a woman who mattered? Is there anything I wouldn't do to win?"
Is he defending an innocent woman or a guilty one? Is there such a thing as true justice? Rather than answer those questions - and spoil the book! - I'll leave you with Jake's final thoughts:
We seek justice in the courthouse, just as we seek holiness in a house of worship. Justice is an ideal, a vague concept we strive for but can barely define. Justice is the North Star, the burning bush, the holy virgin. It cannot be bought, sold, or mass produced. It is intangible and invisible, but if you are to spend your life in its pursuit, it is best to believe it exists, and that you can attain it.
Flesh & Bones and all the Jake Lassiter novels are available on Kindle, Nook and Smashwords. More information on Paul Levine's website.