Wednesday, May 20, 2009


Author: Paul Levine
Copyright April 2009
Bantam Books
ISBN-10: 0-553-8067-3-4
ISBN-13: 978-0-5538067-3-1
384 pages
Hardcover $22.00

When anyone has a child who dies, it can frequently break-up a family. Jimmy Payne, has lived his life as a defense attorney and is still hurting by the death of his son from a car accident caused by an illegal alien who was drunk. His former wife, Sharon, is moving on with her life and has a new romantic interest.
Added to that problem, Jimmy is not completely honest or ethical. He is asked to be part of a sting operation which is to entrap a judge by paying him $50,000 for a particular decision. In actuality, when the judge accepts the money, it is only $45,000 since Jimmy kept the $5,000 for himself. After all, as far as he is concerned, who would know what he had done? The missing money quickly becomes a problem when the judge commits suicide and is found with only $45,000.
Jimmy has a magnetic attraction for trouble and discovers himself partnered with an illegal Mexican boy, Tino who was separated from his mother when they were attempting to sneak into the U.S. It is amazing but realistic that by doing the right thing can mean breaking the law. Jimmy agrees to help Tino find his mother. The problem becomes that there is no way to possibly find her legally.
The characters are definitely flawed, both Jimmy and Tino. However, they are likable and I found myself overlooking their breaking of laws and actually “rooting” for them. The two are the underdogs in almost every situation, but you can’t help but want them to succeed.
Every page is action-filled and moves extremely quickly. I thoroughly enjoyed both characters’ determination, compassion, and their ability to still find humor in life-threatening situations. Yes, it did remind me of the old television show, “The Rockford Files” which is frequently referred to in the book.
I did enjoy the conflict of the action when someone doing the right thing can be going against our laws. With the issues of illegal aliens, sexual slavery, and human trafficking, there is not a dull moment. Even one of the antagonists commenting about how he sees Jimmy, “Still deserves respect. Damn few men of principle left. Much less men of action.”
ILLEGAL definitely deserves respect. It’s fast, but also has some character reflections about difficult issues that each one of us needs.
Paul Levine has written numerous novels but considers ILLEGAL to be his most powerful one. It’s obvious that Mr. Levine puts much of himself into the character of Jimmy Payne. Mr. Levine has worked as a newspaper reporter, law professor, and a trial lawyer.

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