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Last Lawyer Standing (Kevin Corvelli) by Douglas Corleone
Cover Artist: Steve Gardner / Pixelwork Studios
Review by Joseph B. Hoyos
Minotaur Books Hardcover  ISBN/ITEM#: 9780312552282
Date: 21 August 2012 List Price $25.99 Amazon US / Amazon UK

Links: Author's Website / Show Official Info /

Criminal Defense Attorney Kevin Corvelli faces the most challenging court case of his career. He must defend his drug-dealing friend, Turi Ahina, who has been arrested for killing a police officer, Kanoa Bristol. Ahina swears it was self defense; Bristol was trying to assassinate him. In order to win his case, Corvelli must prove the entire Narcotics Intelligence Unit is crooked.

Meanwhile, he is also preventing Governor Wade Omphrey from being implicated in the poisoning death of his mistress, Oksana Sutin. Unknown to Omphrey, Sutin was a Russian prostitute, a victim of human trafficking. While trying to free Ahina and help get Omphrey reelected, Corvelli and his friends find themselves in grave danger of being assassinated by mobsters, drug dealers and rogue cops.

Last Lawyer Standing is Douglas Corleone's third novel in the Kevin Corvelli series (following One Man's Paradise and Night on Fire). It is a superb blend of tense courtroom drama and bloody noir set against the lush background of Honolulu, Hawaii. Of the three, it is the most violent and corrupt. In fact, the author must've feared tourism would be harmed after the publication of Last Lawyer Standing; he wrote a disclaimer stating that the true HPD is not like the one in his novel.

Brutal violence and mysterious murders ensure that the third novel is fast-paced. Unfortunately, it lacks the humor of the first two. Also, One Man's Paradise still remains the best whodunit of the three. Unfortunately, those who have begun reading Corleone's award-winning series starting with Last Lawyer Standing may not want to read the first two novels; there are too many plot spoilers.

Most of the novel's humor comes from supporting characters such as newcomer Scott Damiano. As a favor to his former boss, Milt Cashman, Corvelli has agreed to hire Damiano, the son of a mobster, who has a contract out on his life. At one of the governor's fundraisers, Damiano appears with a beautiful, artificially endowed stripper in tow. He explains to Corvelli: "... You told me this crowd was classy. I wasn't gonna just head into Waikiki and grab the first two-bit hooker I found." However, the funniest scene is when the elderly Miles Flannagan explains to his son Ryan that a man should always marry an ugly woman. "Your mother, she was a saint, but she broke more mirrors than Hurricane Katrina."

Corvelli's stifled sense of humor may be due to the knife wound in his stomach, which has contributed to his addiction to Percocet. Furthermore, as he matures and becomes aware of his own mortality, he is becoming more serious about his relationships, especially the ones involving the people he loves. He is dead set on having Turi Ahina acquitted because Ahina once saved his life. I became emotional during the court proceedings, especially when the jury foreman is about to read the verdict. I must be honest and say that, at the beginning of the series, I never cared much for Corvelli. I thought he was an arrogant, cocky, hedonistic, borderline alcoholic--a real jerk. However, in Last Lawyer Standing, Corvelli redeems himself in my eyes. Now, I actually like the guy. He risks his life to save an employee/friend.

The romance in Last Lawyer Standing is more toned down than the previous novels. Corvelli likes Assistant U.S. Attorney Audra Levy but they never become a serious item. I believe this is due to the fact that all his previous relationships have ended tragically. He is afraid of falling in love. Besides the lack of heated, passionate romance, the only other item in Last Lawyer Standing that annoyed me was the frequent mention of the novel Paradise on Fire; it was written by a minor character, Sherry Beagan, and is based on Corvelli's highly publicized case involving the beautiful pyromaniac, Erin Simms, who was accused of setting her hotel on fire. This novel-within-a-novel hindered my suspension of disbelief. It reminded me of the horror franchise Scream, which is a clever parody of classic horror films; the Scream franchise has a film series within it called Stab, which is based on the lives of the Scream characters.

Last Lawyer Standing is highly recommended for fans of the Kevin Corvelli series. Because of plot spoilers, I suggest that the three novels be read in order. Fans of bloody, violent noir will also want to read it. The entire series is recommended for those who crave mysteries with exotic locales. Not only is Last Lawyer Standing an action-packed courtroom drama, with elements of romance and humor, but it is a unique character study. It depicts how a person can mature during trials and tribulations and realize what is truly important in life.

Unfortunately, we must say goodbye to Kevin Corvelli, at least temporarily. Douglas Corleone's next novel, Good as Gone, will feature a former U.S. Marshal, Simon Fisk, whose search for a missing American girl takes him across the European continent; it is slated for publication in the spring of 2013.

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