By Bob Levy….
I have managed judicial campaigns in Miami-Dade County for over 30 years. There are many judges that we helped in their campaigns 30 years ago who are retiring this term, and even more in two years. Time flies when you’re having fun and winning is fun. Losing? Well, there can only be one winner in each election.
Because of the intense nature of campaigns, we often become friendly on a personal level with the candidate (and subsequently with the judge) and sometimes with the spouse. And so it has been with Bob and Judge Barbara Levenson. We have maintained contact even after Barbara retired.
And so when she told me she was writing a book, I reminded her that it’s even more difficult than writing a legal opinion. She told me the real challenge was in getting more people to read your book than those that read your legal opinion. I told her there were those who had to read the legal opinion, but no one had to read the book.
Having now written two books, I can tell you if you are from Miami-Dade and love fiction that is so real it jumps off the page at you, then you want to read her two books. Her first book is Fatal February, released in 2009, and her newest contribution is Justice in June. Let me urge you to read them in order, as the characters will develop for you in clearer detail (I think; of course I haven’t written a book review since college when I used my Cliff Notes to develop my report).
The thing that makes these books so exciting to me personally is that if you’re involved in the justice system, every single person in the book comes alive for you and you can picture that person as someone you literally know. When in Justice in June Barbara talked about the Clerk of the Courts, that person was Harvey Ruvin for me; didn’t matter what his name was in the book. When Barbara talked about the chief judge, I saw Gerald Wetherington, Joe Farina and Joel Brown, who have spanned 30 years as chief judges.
And when the story developed — and I don’t want to give away too much of the plot here — I knew the good guys and the bad guys in the book, but the lines were crossed and it’s only as the story develops that you learn who really “did it.” The stories about Guantanamo and how the system works today are as scary in the book as they are in real life.
All one has to do is go to a Florida Association of Women Lawyer’s meeting and you’ll meet a dozen women like Mary Magruder Katz, the main character in the book. And when in Fatal February she meets a Hispanic male, well, it’s so Miami. And when they want to go for dinner and it’s off to the Forge or when she talks about the excitement the first time she walked up the stairs of the Justice Building (73 W. Flagler Street or l35l NW l2th Street, doesn’t matter which), one feels the book developing around you with familiar scenes. Carlos Martin, the boyfriend, is someone you’ll meet and feel like you already know, because we all know Carlos and many like him.
This is a duo of wonderful books that anyone living anywhere can enjoy, but if you are a Miami-Dade resident, it is must reading. I literally could not put either book down, anxiously awaiting further exciting developments in the daily life of Mary Magruder Katz. The scene where the two families meet for dinner is just hysterical and all of us have had similar experiences.
That’s what makes these books great, you will feel like you are reading something you have experienced yourself; because most of us have.
Bob Levy is president of Robert M. Levy and Associates, a lobbying and campaign consulting firm with over 30 years of history in Miami Dade County and Tallahassee.
By Bob Levy….