The Deep Blue Alibi--Paul Levine


In my constant search for mysteries that can hold a candle to the classics in either writing, plotting, or cleverness of story, I managed to pick this one up. Promising to be a combination of Hiaasen and Grisham, it looked like it would probably be a bust, but it was set in the Keys, so I had to give it a chance.

I was more or less pleasantly surprised. An Attorney team of Steve Solomon and Victoria Lord investigate unpleasant and illegal doings in the keys, each nearly getting him or herself killed several times.

So let's stop here for a moment. If you want a frothy, if somewhat salacious and more-foul-mouthed-than-I-care-for read--this book is for you. It has everything--shyster lawyers, ambulance chasers, explosions, death by spear-gun, death by vintage WWII torpedo glider explosion, etc. etc. However, I'm now going to complain (hopefully not at length) about a point I found distressing.

Paul Levine, the author, supposedly lives in Miami. If so, he has never ventured very far from his penthouse apartment on the beach. The main stuck-in-my-craw point centers around a scene in which Victoria encounters a deadly coral snake in the shower. Okay, to start with, coral snakes ARE deadly--they are not something for amateurs to fool around with, don't try this at home. Any way, Victoria sees this snake and then dispatches it, after python-like, it wraps around her arm and has to be loosened and snapped like a whip a couple of times to subdue it. After she does so, her mother comes in and declares she'll have a handbag made of the skin. Two other people both claim it for their projects--a pair of boots and a briefcase.

STOP--rewind! (1) A coral snake is about the size of a common garter snake. Its head is so small that it would have to chew through an adult human's skin to inject venom, and the little guy isn't hanging around to do that. Most bites occur in the webbing of fingers and toes, the only place the skin is thin enough for this to transpire. If you had half-a-brain as an assailant, you'd pick something with a little more zing--a pygmy rattler, for instance. (2) Being the size of a garter snake, you'd be hard-pressed to make the strap of a handbag from several skins, much less an entire handbag. (3)Later mom shows up with a pair of sandals covered in this snake's skin. How long does the author think it takes to prepare a skin for such use. Evidently, he's of the opinion that it should be no more than about three days--at least according to the chronology of the novel.

Okay, I went on far too long about that, but it was one major sticking point. I hate when research is so sloppy that these minor facts can't be put straight. However, be that as it may, it's a quick and mostly enjoyable romp through the keys. I wouldn't bother with it until you've gotten through your stock of Hiaasen, White, and Dorsey (and if you're inclined to nostalgia MacDonald). But if you like some courtroom stuff mixed with a wildish ride through the tropics, you might enjoy this book.

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This page contains a single entry by Steven Riddle published on February 11, 2006 11:07 AM.

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