ILLEGAL (Jimmy ("Royal") Payne Legal Thriller Book 1) and over one million other books are available for Amazon Kindle. Learn more
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Illegal Hardcover – March 24, 2009

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Bantam; 1st Ed. edition (March 24, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0553806734
  • ISBN-13: 978-0553806731
  • Product Dimensions: 6.3 x 1.2 x 9.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (243 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #346,114 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

L.A. defense attorney Jimmy Payne, overwhelmed by guilt and grief at his son’s death, also loses his wife, Sharon, to divorce, and morphs into “Royal” Payne to both cops and judges. It’s just a matter of time before he’s in deep trouble with both. Along with the trouble comes 12-year-old Agustino Perez, an illegal alien who is searching for his mother. Initially, Tino robs Payne, but Payne admires the boy’s toughness and determination and promises to help him find his mother. The trail takes them—dodging cops and assorted bad guys—from L.A. to Mexico and then back into the U.S. to confront a willful agri-tycoon who uses illegal aliens the way most people use Kleenex. Illegal is a riveting read, filled with action, pathos, and even humor. The portrait of the dangers and predations that Latinos face crossing the border is chilling and rings with authenticity. But the book’s best quality is the way Levine invests his characters with believable humanity. A compulsively readable yet character-driven thriller. --Thomas Gaughan


Riveting ... filled with action, pathos, and even humor. ... The book’s best quality is the way Levine invests his characters with believable humanity.”—Booklist

Customer Reviews

I look forward to reading more books from this author.
Katie Orost
Well written with plenty of plot twists and great character development.
Amazon Customer
Great read one that keeps you wanting to keep turning the pages.
Vicky Osowski

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

57 of 59 people found the following review helpful By H. Grove (errantdreams) TOP 500 REVIEWER on April 9, 2009
Format: Hardcover
Some of the characters start off feeling a bit flat, particularly the expectably spunky and tough-talking Tino, but thankfully they grow into their roles, around much the same time that I started finding the book more dark than depressing. I never really could figure out why on earth Sharon was with her current fiancee, however; Levine never succeeds in making him seem charming enough to counterbalance his total jackassery.

The details of the human trafficking in illegals are fascinating, and definitely bring the book alive. We get to see plenty of sides to the issue under many different circumstances. The author never tries to reduce the issue to some platitude or provide a magical solution. Instead, he allows it to simply act as an incredible backdrop for his story.

Make no mistake--whether you agree that this book is depressing or not, it's definitely dark. There are themes and often scenes of murder, abuse, sexual abuse, rape, attempted rape, attempted pedophilia, and more. Illegal isn't for everyone.

My only other reservation is that some of the details at the end wrap up entirely too neatly. I don't want to give the events away; I'll merely say that there are things that hang over Jimmy's head for most of the novel as dire threats that are swept under the rug with barely an explanation when the time comes to wrap things up, and it broke the ability to suspend disbelief for me.

This is definitely a fascinating thriller, and if you're looking for a peek into the dark world of illegal immigrants and human trafficking then definitely give it a shot. But it does have a few flaws.
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24 of 25 people found the following review helpful By Bookreporter on June 9, 2010
Format: Hardcover
ILLEGAL is not a Solomon vs. Lord novel. Paul Levine, creator of the unique attorney duo who fought for justice with almost as much passion as they fought each other (and often hilariously so), has created a new mythos, one closer to his Jake Lassiter series than to Steve Solomon and Victoria Lord. His new protagonist is attorney Jimmy "Royal" Payne. While his previous creations made South Florida their home base, Payne is headquartered across the country from them in Los Angeles. The change of locale is accompanied by a darker tone, which is not to say that ILLEGAL finds Levine's well of humor to be dry. Payne uses humor more as a weapon than as a conversational instrument, unlike the characters who populate the author's earlier works. And with good reason.

We come to find out that Payne has experienced a devastating personal tragedy, one that has cost him his family and apparently his judgment. As the book begins, Payne is recruited --- "coerced" may be a better word --- into entrapping a judge in a bribery scheme. He is successful, but, as with many things with which Payne is involved, it backfires badly on him, more so when he is accused of diverting some of the bribery money for himself. The accusation is career-threatening, all the more so because it's true. On the run from the police, Payne crosses paths with a 12-year-old Mexican runaway who is in even more trouble than he is.

Tino Perez and his mother, Marisol, have been forced to flee their native Mexico and use a notorious coyote to negotiate the illegal crossing into the United States. Mother and son become separated along the way, with the result being that Tino suddenly finds himself penniless on the streets of Los Angeles without papers or guidance.
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24 of 28 people found the following review helpful By L. French on June 3, 2010
Format: Hardcover
If you are looking for a gift for the man in your life, try "Illegal", the intelligent fast-paced action-packed hard boiled novel by Paul Levine.
The story is about Jimmy (Royal) Payne, an ethically-challenged lawyer who finds himself caught in the world of human trafficking. The story takes place in Southern California and Mexico (local setting), brings up the issues of immigration (intellectual), contains great testosterone-packed fights, laugh-out-loud moments (quotable ones) , and sex scenes. (sensitive souls beware: a few graphic scenes and foul language. A great read!
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36 of 47 people found the following review helpful By N. Bilmes VINE VOICE on July 22, 2011
Format: Mass Market Paperback Verified Purchase
The protagonist in this novel has a lot going for him personality wise, and quirk wise. Levine has written an overly detailed, yet interesting enough, novel of the hazards of illegally crossing over the Mexico/USA border. It's hard to say whose side of the immigration war Levine favors, as he attempts to present both sides of the argument. The main female lead has more disasters happen to her in this book than Job did in the bible. Readers skilled in foreshadowing processing will have no trouble figuring out what eventually occurs in this book. This book should have been subtitled, "The Idiots Guide to NOT Sneaking Into the USA."

The biggest problem this book has is that the lead lawyer, J. Atticus Payne, keeps busting heads of opponents who are more heavily armed than he is, younger than he is, and who should never let Payne get anywhere near them to begin with. Once a book is OK on the believability scale. Twice is stretching it. This book has it happen 4-5 times, and that makes the whole realism angle fly out the window.

This was an OK book, but I skimmed a lot of the pages.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews

More About the Author

PAUL LEVINE worked as a newspaper reporter, a law professor and a trial lawyer before becoming a full-time novelist. Obviously, he cannot hold a job. Paul claims that writing fiction comes naturally: he told whoppers for many years in his legal briefs. His books have been translated into 23 languages, none of which he can read.

He has won the John D. MacDonald fiction award and has been nominated for an Edgar Allan Poe Award, the Macavity, the International Thriller Writers Award, the Shamus Award, and the James Thurber Humor Prize.

A Miami Dolphins linebacker turned hard-nosed lawyer, Lassiter has been described by Booklist as "one of the most entertaining series characters in contemporary crime fiction." Writing in USA Today, Larry King called the series of legal thrillers, "Mystery writing at its very, very best."

What's new? "State vs. Lassiter," "Lassiter" and "Last Chance Lassiter" are Paul's latest legal thrillers on Kindle and in NEW paperback editions. "To Speak for the Dead" continues its bestseller status 25 years after its hardcover publication.

Coming in June in print, audio, and e-book editions: "Bum Rap," the first legal thriller to feature Jake Lassiter AND those squabbling Miami lawyers, Steve Solomon & Victoria Lord.

To Speak for the Dead
Night Vision
False Dawn
Mortal Sin
Fool Me Twice
Flesh & Bones
Last Chance Lassiter
State vs. Lassiter
Bum Rap (June 2015)

Then there's the series of legal capers featuring mismatched Miami lawyers Steve Solomon and Victoria Lord:

Solomon vs. Lord
The Deep Blue Alibi
Kill All the Lawyers
Habeas Porpoise

The Chicago Sun-Times praised "Solomon vs. Lord" in these terms: "Remarkably fresh and original with characters you can't help loving and sparkling dialogue that echoes the Hepburn-Tracy screwball comedies. A hilarious, touching and entertaining twist on the legal thriller."

Publishers Weekly wrote: "Fans of Carl Hiaasen and Dave Barry will enjoy this humorous Florida crime romp."

Also now available: "Illegal," a highly-praised thriller set in the world of human trafficking and sex slavery; "Impact," a legal thriller set at the Supreme Court; "Ballistic," in which a homegrown terrorist group takes over a missile silo in Wyoming; "Paydirt," in which a down-and-out bookie attempts to fix the Super Bowl; and FREE on Kindle, "The Road to Hell," four original short stories.

Before turning to legal thrillers, Paul wrote 20 episodes of the TV series JAG, which gave him an opportunity to steer a nuclear submarine and land on the deck of an aircraft carrier, all without endangering national security. He is a graduate of Penn State University where he majored in journalism and the University of Miami Law School where he majored in the swimming pool. He passed the Florida Bar exam in his first try in what he suspects was a computer glitch.

He was a trial lawyer with the mammoth international law firm of Morgan, Lewis & Bockius, where he did not even pretend to know all his partners' names. He specialized in "complex litigation," cases so abstruse that even lawyers charging 500 bucks an hour didn't fully understand them. He tried hundreds of cases and handled appeals at every level, including the Supreme Court. Along the way, he filed expense accounts nearly as creative as his legal briefs.

Paul says he enjoys writing more than lawyering because he no longer keeps time sheets and gets to work in his underwear. He formerly lived in the hills of Southern California, which he claims are populated by rattlesnakes and coyotes, and those are just the Hollywood agents. Paul recently moved back to Miami, a place Joan Didion once called "a rich and wicked pastel boomtown." But to Paul, it's just "home sweet home."

More info at
Follow Paul @Jake_Lassiter
Visit Paul's brand-new Facebook Author Page for the latest news:

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