Smokey the Cat
Paul Levine

Sixty seconds with Paul Levine...

The author of 20 novels, Paul Levine won the John D. MacDonald fiction award and was nominated for a number of other prizes. A former trial lawyer, he wrote 21 episodes of the CBS military drama "JAG"and co-created the Supreme Court drama “First Monday” His first novel, To Speak for the Dead, is still in print 27 years after publication. A graduate of Penn State and the University of Miami Law School, Paul divides his time between Miami, Florida and Santa Barbara, California. His website is

RTE: Describe yourself in a sentence?

Levine: I'm a brew and burger guy in a paté and Chardonnay world. Wait, that’s Jake Lassiter. I’m just a man who tries to go through life doing a wee bit of good while inflicting the least damage possible to people, animals, and the earth.

RTE: What's the one record you'd take to a desert island?

Levine: The record for long-distance swimming. Oh, that kind of record? Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah.”

RTE: What did you want to be when you were growing up?

Levine: A photographer for Playboy. I wrote an essay about this in tenth grade.

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Kelley Armstrong

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April 22, 2017

There are several reviewers this week who are absolutely delighted with authors new to them (and that's how it should be) but we do begin with what is the twelfth appearance of Bernie Gunther in Philip Kerr's PRUSSIAN BLUE. It's a series I've been reading for close to twenty-five years and it never fails to engage and enlighten me. The present entry is no exception.

On the other hand, M.L.Rio's IF WE WERE VILLAINS is a debut and draws heavily on Shakespearean tragedy. Sharon Mensing says it displays a wonderful new talent and she is looking forward to see what comes next.

Two books this week have very strong female protagonists, each acting on opposite sides of the law. Susan Hoover enjoyed Melissa Scrivner Love's LOLA, whose title character heads an Hispanic gang in South Central LA. And she's just one of a number of female characters who, Susan tells us, "make all the decisions, commit most of the crimes, and solve all the mysteries, even the five-year-olds." DS Ferreira of the Peterborough (UK) Hate Crimes Unit in Eva Dolan's AFTER YOU DIE is only one of several female characters who have hardened themselves in order to carry out their professional duties in this gripping police procedural.

If you're considering a spot of armchair travel, Ian Hamilton's THE COUTURIER OF MILAN will take you off to Hong Kong in this 10th in his Ava Lee series. Nicola Nixon is a great admirer of these books but felt that Ava Lee was rather pushed to one side this time out. Or you could visit South Africa and meet Tannie Maria in Sally Andrew's THE SATANIC MECHANIC, which Meredith Frazier enjoyed immensely. She says it's a cosy, but one in which the larger world is very much present. It does, however, have recipes. Or you might fancy a trip to Japan, though Susan Hoover would doubt that the nihilism of Fuminori Nakamura's THE BOY IN THE EARTH would really encourage you.

Happily, there's always the vistas of the western US and Sharon Mensing is happy not only to live there but also to read about it. She says that C.J. Box captures the feeling of small Western towns better than any other writer, as he demonstrates in VICIOUS CIRCLE. The title character of Peter Heller's CELINE is a fish out of water - a PI from New York loose on the Montana/Wyoming border in search of a client's father. Sharon says this is among the best she's read this year.

The female detective in Elena Hartwell's TWO HEADS ARE DEADER THAN ONE is named Eddie Shoes, in what appears to be a sly homage to one of the pioneer female private eyes - Sharon McCone of Marcia Muller's EDWIN OF THE IRON SHOES. Diana Borse enjoyed this one.

A DEATH BY ANY OTHER NAME BY Tessa Arlen is a cosy set just before World War I and Meredith Frazier found both the mystery elements and the historical setting very satisfying. CHARCOAL JOE, by Walter Mosley, continues the story of Easy Rawlins. Not quite historical yet, set in the late 1960s and dealing with racial issues that are far from resolved today, it's a book that will extend comprehension of the effects of systemic racism while remaining a fine crime novel in its own right, according to Jim Napier.

Finally, some Sherlockiana. Cathy Downs reports that THE SECRETS OF GASLIGHT LANE, by M.R.C. Kassassian is a very funny book, sending up Victorian novels and what we think Victorian novels may be. All this and a very twisty plot to boot. BAKER STREET IRREGULARS, edited by Michael A. Ventrella and Jonathan Maberry, is a collection of short stories which, says Rebecca Nesvet, reboot the Holmes corpus rather than imitate to it. She recommends it highly, even if you're not a fan of the original.

Our guest in the "Sixty Seconds With..." spot today is Paul Levine. Do pay him a visit.

Our friends at CRIMEREVIEW have also been busy reviewing what's what in UK crime. You might want to pop by and see.

That's it until we return early in the merry month of May. Till then, happy reading.



P.S. If you wish to submit a book for review, please check here before contacting us. Please note that we do not review self-published books.

Our mascot and masthead is Smokey the Cat. Smokey the cat went to the great playground in the sky on April 29, 2008, at 3:30 p.m. He was about 13 years old, had diabetes and only 11 teeth left. He is much happier now. He will remain as our masthead and mascot.

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