Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Paul Levine: Solomon vs Lord

Today I welcome back crime fiction author, fellow chocolate lover, and friend, Paul Levine. His “Solomon vs. Lord” series has been nominated for the Edgar, Macavity, International Thriller, and James Thurber awards. The four legal thrillers are now available as e-books on Amazon Kindle. In today's guest post, Paul Levine discusses his main characters, or as he puts it, “How I stole the idea for Steve Solomon and Victoria Lord.”

Paul Levine:

“No matter what you think you think, you think the same as I think.”
            –Spencer Tracy to Katherine Hepburn in “Adam’s Rib

That classic line formed the underpinning of my battle-of-the-sexes novel, “Solomon vs. Lord.” The dialogue expresses a man’s frustration in dealing with the woman he both loves and battles in the courtroom.

One of my favorite movies, “Adam’s Rib” involved an unlikely trial in which the prosecutor (Tracy) and defense lawyer (Hepburn) are married.  The defendant (Judy Holliday) shot and wounded her philandering husband (Tom Ewell), but the legal case was overshadowed by the conflict between the bickering, bantering lawyers.

Similarly, “Solomon vs. Lord” opens with Steve Solomon and Victoria Lord in jail for contempt after one-too-many outbursts in court.  Just as in “Adam’s Rib,” they’re on opposite sides of a case.  Unlike Tracy and Hepburn’s characters, they’re not married.  Heck, they don’t even like each other...at first.

Before long, Victoria is fired from her job as a prosecutor – thanks to Steve – and they both go after a high-publicity client: a young woman accused of killing her older, wealthy husband during a night of kinky sex.  The only way either one can get the case is to team up with the other.  They become reluctant partners, squabbling all the way.

Victoria insists on following the letter of the law.  Steve makes up his own rules, starting with: “When the law doesn’t work...work the law.”  Similarly, Steve says: “A creative lawyer considers a judge’s order a mere suggestion.”  Victoria’s reaction: “You’re the most unethical lawyer I know.”  Steve fires back: “You’re new at this.  Give it time.”

So if you think of the battling lawyers in “Adam’s Rib” or Nick and Nora Charles in “The Thin Man” or Bruce Willis and Cybill Shepherd in “Moonlighting,” the resemblance is purely intentional.  (The television dramedy “Castle” is another example of the genre).

In “Moonlighting,” Shepherd’s character Maddie says of Willis’s David: “You have the morals of a rabbit, the character of a slug, and the brain of a platypus.”

Maddie goes on to say, “Let me remind you, one case does not a detective make.”  To which David replies, “Let me remind you, I hate it when you talk backwards.”

In “Solomon vs. Lord,” Victoria says: “From what I hear, you spend more time behind bars than your clients.”  To which Steve replies: “A lawyer who’s afraid of jail is like a surgeon who’s afraid of blood.”

In “The Thin Man,” when asked by a reporter if her husband was working on a case, Nora says, “Yes, a case of Scotch.  Pitch in and help him.”

In “Solomon vs. Lord,” Victoria has the heart of a prosecutor – which in Steve’s mind is no heart at all.  “I’ll bet you think Jean Valjean belonged in prison,” he taunts her.

“He stole the bread, didn’t he?” she replies.

“You’d burn witches at the stake.”

“Not until they exhausted all their appeals.”

In short, they exasperate each other, even while making a dynamic team in the courtroom where Steve’s spontaneity and originality are buttressed by Victoria’s organization and discipline

What about after work?  Do the sparks fly there, too?

“Opposites attract,” as Frank Sinatra once sang.  But these two can’t even agree on the meaning of love, much less give in to it.  “Love is a rational, synergistic coupling of two people with mutual interests and similar values,” Victoria says.  This befuddles Steve who demands to know: “Where’s the lust and laughter?”

You’ll have to read the book to find out!

Read more about Paul Levine and his other series at http://www.paul-levine.com


Jenna said...

LOVED this book! I don't suppose there'll be any more? :-)

Jenna said...

LOVED this book! I don't suppose there'll be any more? :-)

Judith Starkston said...

Thanks for reminding me of some great lines. I think this particular vein has plenty more entertaining mining left in it. Fun to hear what you're doing with an updated Hepburn and Tracy.