Outrageous October differs from Barbara Levenson’s first two books in that the setting is in Vermont and not Miami. At first I thought I wouldn’t enjoy it as much as the first two, losing the hometown advantage. But that’s not the case as Mary Magruder Katz, the main character, is never far from Miami.
It’s not happenstance since Levenson knows Vermont as she does Miami. She and her husband, Bob, retired to Quechee, VT. And the presence in the book of Sam, the German shepherd dog also is based on familiar ground for Barbara. She and Bob bred and showed German shepherd dogs and finished 11 champions in the show ring.
The novel opens as Mary finds her typical Miami Latin love, Carlos, not at the business meeting he claimed he would be at but rather having a rendezvous with his ex-spouse. Mary, being more offended at being lied to than the actual event itself, returns his very expensive ring, packs up her SUV and Sam and escape to High Pines, VT in a friend’s summer home.
Quiet town? Amazingly a crime wave follows Mary almost as if a good criminal defense lawyer can’t go anywhere without crime following. After all, what would a good lawyer do even on vacation without legal work to keep her going.
Mary soon discovers her vacation residence was the scene of an unsolved murder a year before her arrival. Because of her background and nature, Mary dives right in to investigate the cold case. Along the way she meets Dash, a local attorney who persuades her to do some legal work, all the while hoping for a little more than office practice. Mary reconnects with a client from a previous Levenson novel, Lillian Yarmouth. Her daughter, a student at Dartmouth, has been kidnapped. Then there is the innocuous property rights battle involving “tree removal” which ends up with the tree hugger being a real life Nazi, a fact discovered after he is murdered.
The suspense is ever present, but the good news is for those of us who do have to put a book down, the chapters are short and make the book very readable by busy people. Every element of Levenson’s background is evident in this novel, from her legal background as a judge-turned-author, to the habits of the German shepherd. The novel ends with Mary back in Miami and the plot thickens and two new elements emerge which no doubt will be the subject of Levenson’s next novel, which could very well already be written awaiting release.
I’ve known Barbara Levenson for decades, but after reading three of her novels, I feel like I know Mary Magruder Katz and her family very well. I feel like I could walk into a Florida Association for Women Lawyers (FAWL) meeting and pick out Mary, just as I could walk into a Latin Builder’s Association meeting and pick out her Latin lover, Carlos.
If you liked book one and two, this now trilogy of novels are the embodiment of the Convention and Visitor’s Bureau’s new slogan “they’re so Miami.”
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