The odds favor the reader in Paul Levine’s latest

“Paydirt,” by Paul Levine. Createspace. 388 pages. $12.25. E-book $3.99.

This thriller seems to be best-selling author Paul Levine’s first foray into putting out a new title as an e-book original (along with a print on demand option). Like many other successful authors of trade titles, Mr. Levine has seen the future and it is now. His wildly and widely popular Jake Lassiter series is being repackaged in e-book format at the same time that he goes marching further into the digital age with this new stand-alone title. 

Though Mr. Levine no longer lives in Miami, he has long been associated with it. It is a major setting in much of his work, including this latest effort as the home of the Super Bowl. The outcome of this season-ending football game largely decides the fate of his principal characters, in particular Bobby Gallagher.

Bobby, the son-in-law of Dallas Mustangs owner Martin Kingsley, would seem to have it all. Married to beautiful, intelligent, caring Christine and father to a good-natured son who also happens to be a math genius, he would seem to be one lucky guy. The problem is that he has allowed himself to be corrupted by the sports industry he works for: an industry in which the pursuit of winning and wealth is out of control. As a lawyer for the Mustangs, Bobby’s job has been to successfully defend rapists and other lowlifes who happened to be key players on the team. Beginning with minor violations of responsible professional conduct, Bobby has slid down the slippery slope into a moral abyss. And it’s been eating away at him.

He needs to change his life.

As it turns out, moral leverage is no leverage at all – certainly not with his wife’s father, who is the epitome of criminal greed rooted in vanity and obsession. Since Christine is a daddy’s girl who has not allowed herself to perceive her father’s cruelty and corruption, Bobby can’t persuade her to join him in taking a stand. With no allies, Bobby’s scruples and his blundering attempts to right things cost him his job, his law license, his reputation, his marriage, and perhaps his parental rights.

Paul Levine

After leaving Dallas and moving to Miami, Bobby finds himself unemployable and crushingly depressed. An old friend gets him into the illegal bookie business, taking bets on sports competitions with a commission income. Bobby is rather inept at this endeavor, though his son’s mathematical wizardry is of some help. Bobby needs money, gets in debt to a mobster, and tries to find a bet he can win to pay off his life-threatening creditor and perhaps get even with his father-in-law.

In pursuing his redemption, Bobby absorbs plenty of brutal beatings, both physically and psychologically. 

His ultimate goal is to somehow put his family back together again and rebuild his reputation. This involves exposing Martin and forcing Christine to see the true character of Craig Stringer. Stringer, the Mustangs’ superstar quarterback, is a thoughtless womanizer who longs to be a Mustangs’ executive when his playing days are over. . . .

To read this review in its entirety, as it appears in the April 5, 2012 issue of Naples Florida Weekly, click here:  Florida Weekly – Paul Levine pdf

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