Book Review: Justice in June by Barbara Levenson: Fast Paced Mystery

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Justice In June

Barbara Levenson

301 pages

Justice In June is the second book in Barbara Levenson’s Mary Magruder Katz Mystery Series. The book opens with a dead informant and criminal defense attorney Mary Magruder Katz getting a call from Judge Elizabeth Maxwell asking for a meeting ASAP.

Judge Maxwell asks Mary to defend her in a hush/hush case that could ruin her career or possibly send her to jail. Added to the extra stress of possibly losing the case, Mary might have to depend on her ex to retrieve some information that could point her in the direction of the real criminal instead of the judge. Unfortunately, this information may cost Mary more than an uncomfortable liaison with the guy that dumped her.

While fretting over the fate of her case with the judge she has more issues. Her hot Cuban boyfriend, Carlos, asks Mary to see why they are holding a friend of his family, Luis Corona, after an altercation on an international flight. Thinking this is just a case of mistaken identity or some other reasonable explanation, she agrees. Within a few hours, she finds herself knee deep in a federal case. The feds are accusing Corona of terrorism and are preparing to move him without benefit of a lawyer or a hearing. Kate sees him for a brief time before the Secret Service arrives. When she leaves the jailhouse, she walks into a barrage of TV and newspaper reporters asking her why she is defending a terrorist.

Meantime, Carlos has a group of people suing him for not having the condos that his company is building completed on time. Additionally, someone just might be trying to hurt Mary. She does not know if it is from one of her current cases, one of her past cases or just some random acts of violence. She is exhausted and understandably so. Mary has more defendants than she has time for and more troubles then there are gators in the Everglades.

As you can imagine, this novel goes from zero to 60 as soon as you turn the first page. To say it is fast paced is an understatement. Levenson does not sacrifice great writing for speed, she keeps up no matter how fast the plot is moving and no matter how many twists and turns it takes.

Her characters are believable and easy to care about. I want Mary to come out the winner, and feel awful when she has so much on her plate she starts forgetting things like court dates. Who hasn’t had that kind of week? At least mine don’t include death threats and my mom not talking to me because she thinks I am defending a terrorist.

This is the second novel I have read by Barbara Levenson. I read her third Mary Magruder Katz novel, Outrageous October last year and loved it. I have not read the first in the series, Fatal February, but still plan to do so.  The fourth in the Mystery Series, Neurotic November will be available in September 2014. Each book of this series can easily be a stand-alone novel. As you have probably noticed, I read Levenson’s third, then second, then will probably read the fourth, then first book of this series. I don’t feel as though I’ve been confused or missed anything by not reading them in order. Let’s face it, who doesn’t enjoy eating dessert before dinner sometimes, but it doesn’t mean I don’t enjoy dinner also because I ate in a different order.

In my review of Outrageous October, I urged mystery fans looking for a new series to try Ms. Levenson’s books, and still stand by that recommendation. Both of the books I have read in this series are well written, keep me guessing and have characters I care about. Mary, Carlos and Sam the dog can entertain mystery lovers for as many books as Levenson is willing to write for us.

Copyright © 2014 Laura Hartman

DISCLOSURE OF MATERIAL CONNECTION: I have a material connection because I received a review copy that I can keep for consideration in preparing to write this content. I was not expected to return this item after my review.

Book Review: Outrageous October by Barbara Levenson

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Outrageous October

Barbara Levenson

296 pages

Reviewed by Laura Hartmanoutrageous_october_book_cover

Outrageous October is the third book in Barbara Levenson’s Mary Magruder Katz Mystery series. The book opens with a year-old murder in High Pines, Vermont. How could Miami criminal defense lawyer Mary Katz possibly get involved with a cold case half a country away?

Mary Katz’s law office in Miami is successful. She is happy and content living with her fiancé Carlos, a hot Latin that she is crazy about and her beloved German Shepherd Sam. After winning a court case, she calls Carlos to make a dinner date to celebrate. He begs off saying he has a business meeting. Not wanting to dine alone after her day, she calls a girlfriend to join her for dinner. Unfortunately, they choose the same restaurant that Carlos has chosen for his “business meeting” with his ex-wife.

Mary runs out of the restaurant distraught. Her friend has a home in High Pines, Vermont, and suggests some time and distance might help Mary heal her broken heart. She agrees, packs up Sam and leaves without allowing Carlos to explain. She returns his engagement ring with a note that explains she cannot live with a man that lies to her. The only person that knows where she is going is her friend, whom Mary swears to secrecy.

Sam and Mary arrive in the tiny Vermont town where everyone knows her name because her friend had to announce her arrival to the caretaker of the home where she is staying. She soon finds out that small towns have no secrets, but mysteries surround her.

Due to a wrong turn on the unmarked mountain roads, she accidently stayed in the wrong home the first night. It happened to be the home in which the murder happened the previous October. Sam barks and growls at suspicious noises and a locked upstairs door. Is someone in the house? Is it haunted? Why is there an SUV parked in the barn one day and gone the next?

Mary moves to the right home with the help of her new friends in High Pines. These friends include Dash, a handsome lawyer that could use an extra lawyer to help with his caseload. Mary agrees to take a case that seems straightforward, but becomes entangled with seedy characters and possibly a murderer. Dash has more in mind than a business relationship, but Mary is still in love with Carlos, even though he shattered her heart.

Levenson weaves a plot that is full of energy and draws the reader in with unanswered questions and emotions that tie up neatly before the end of the novel. Her colorful characters are interesting and intriguing, coming to life on the page. This is the first book by Levenson I’ve read, but it easily can be read as a stand-alone novel. I plan to read the previous two books in the series, Fatal February and Justice in June. The fourth in the Mary Magruder Katz Mystery Series, Neurotic November is due out this winter. Mystery fans looking for a new series should try Ms. Levenson’s books.

Copyright © 2013 Laura Hartman

DISCLOSURE OF MATERIAL CONNECTION: I have a material connection because I received a review copy that I can keep for consideration in preparing to write this content. I was not expected to return this item after my review.

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