Uncial Press, an imprint of GCT, Inc.
Electronic, Print ISBN(s): 13: 978-1-60174-008-3, 10: 1-60174-008-5
Murder most foul, but it couldn’t have happened to a nicer guy! Nobody liked the victim. In fact, they hated him. Practically everybody had a reason to kill him. But which one did it? Final Argument, by Kenneth L. Levinson, is a modern murder mystery done in the traditional style, a true “whodunit” of Agatha Christie proportions. This is a novel that does more than entice one to try and figure out who did it, even before the hero does; it practically demands it!
Adam Larson, an attorney in the Denver area, receives a phone call from his girlfriend, Josie Ballantine. She is “distraught,” because she has received a subpoena. A real estate broker, she sold a house which subsequently burnt while restoration work was in progress. Although she feels she is not directly involved in the whole thing, since it was a done deal, Josie, along with the gas company, her insurance company, and the prior owners, are all being sued by the new owners. Josie is understandably irate and scared.
When Adam learns who the plaintiff’s attorney is, he is taken aback. The man representing them is none other than the infamous Daniel T. Scadman, known to all and sundry as Madman Scadman. He will stop at nothing, resort to any measures, in order to win his cases. This places Adam in a predicament, because he and Josie haven’t been getting along well and he doesn’t like to mix business with the personal, but he feels he must help her under the circumstances. Still, Adam knows it can only add stress to an already stressful relationship.
After an unsatisfying telephone call with Madman Scadman, a deposition date is set. Everyone comes to Adam’s offices to complete it. But the deposition gets off to a bad start. Scadman, it seems, is intent on making everyone angry, furious in fact. His questions, his demeanor, and behavior all appear to be deliberately contrived to create a confrontation with all. Arguments break out over procedure with Scadman not allowing Josie to fully answer questions. His confrontational manner doesn’t stop with her, but is applied with equal animosity to the other lawyers present. The situation spirals out of control, as all the defense attorneys and their clients become ever angrier with Scadman.
Finally, over yet another bone of contention, Scadman jumps up. Matt Bruner rises, trying to calm him. They scuffle and Matt is slammed against the corner of a bookcase, his blazer torn, his back hurt.
Adam Larson calls a halt to the deposition. He retires with Josie from the room, in order to placate the now thoroughly upset woman. While they talk, the others also adjourn from the library, taking a break. Adam then recalls everyone, in order to formally end the deposition, and call for a court-appointed referee. Scadman is nowhere to be found. Finally, Adam checks the library. There, sprawled on the floor with his head bashed in, lies Scadman. He is stone cold dead. To make matters worse, ironically, he was bludgeoned to death by the murderer using a legal exhibit, a piece of evidence from another of Adam’s legal cases.
Now the great question arises. Who committed the murder? Whodunit? Was it an angry attorney, perhaps the fighting-mad Matt Bruner, or one of the clients? Could someone have slipped into the building and murdered him? These are the questions that Adam Larson and his girlfriend Josie Ballantine must try to answer.
Final Argument, by Kenneth L. Levinson, is an excellent mystery story. Kenneth shows real skill and talent in the creation of this piece. Final Argument is an intriguing novel, one that grabs the reader at the outset and doesn’t let them go until the final page. I particularly enjoyed the pace of the book, the way that Kenneth wove facts about law and trial lawyers into a solid and interesting plot. The main character, Adam, has a self-deprecating humor, which supplies a light and needed touch to what otherwise might be a very grim subject. If I had any quibble with this book, it is that I would like it to have gone on a little longer, touched on Adam’s and Josie’s relationship in even more depth. But then, when something is this good, one always wants more of it.
With all the main ingredients of a gripping story, a fast-paced plot, an intricate mystery, well-developed characters, a victim the reader will love to hate, and even a rocky romance, I would recommend Final Argument to anyone, and not just fans of mystery fiction. Kenneth L. Levinson has a winner here. Do yourself a favor and read this book! You won’t regret it.
Reviewed By Rob Shelsky
Copyright © November 2006