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by Paul Levine
Bantam, September 2005
576 pages
ISBN: 0440242738

Buy in the UK | Buy in Canada

When Dave Barry says something's funny, people listen. That's why his blurb is prominently printed on the cover of SOLOMON VS LORD. And it is a very funny book. It was only after I put it down and started thinking about this review that things started to bother me.

The plot is pure madcap bickering romance. Steve Solomon is a sleazy lawyer with a hidden heart of gold, who divides his time equally between womanizing, bizarre courtroom tricks, and struggling for custody of his abused, autistic nephew.

Victoria Lord is a prim, brilliant, classy, up-and-coming lawyer -- until she comes up against Solomon. Their first case against each other ends with him impressed by her talents and her covered with bird crap, charged with contempt, and missing both shoes and job.

Steve manages to talk Victoria around into partnering with him on a high-profile society sex murder case, one that can redeem her reputation and shoot them both into the limelight. To keep the action from flagging there is also a strong subplot swirling around the nephew. Not only does Steve's sister and her fellow cultists want him back, but one of the doctors assigned to his case also wants to experiment on him, while the child advocate would like nothing more than to see Steve humiliated -- all of which can be used by the prosecution in the sex case as well.

I can't fault the humor, which is hilarious, nor the pacing, which races at breakneck speed. What bothers me is Victoria herself, who suffers from a bad case of woman-written-by-a-man syndrome. Although she's supposed to be so tough, she's utterly spineless. She's always being pushed into things that she knows are wrong, but she just can't help herself. This is a talented lawyer?

While self-doubt can be a plot point, it beggars the imagination that she's so insecure that even after all her accomplishments she needs Steve to tell her that she has promise. (Promise that only he, of course, can develop.) It completely bankrupts the imagination that she would be so determined to avoid conflict that she can't even tell her fiance that she's violently allergic to the food he always feeds her.

Read it for the laughs, read it for the action, but if you want to read about a tough, realistic heroine, read something else.

Reviewed by Linnea Dodson, November 2005

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Contact: Yvonne Klein (ymk@reviewingtheevidence.com)

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