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A down-and-out L.A. lawyer with nothing to lose…

A beautiful Mexican woman who disappears crossing the border…

And the powerful and corrupt rancher who would destroy them both.

Haunted by a personal tragedy and wanted by the cops, lawyer Jimmy (Royal) Payne wants to skip town. That’s when he crosses paths with 12-year-old Tino Perez, newly arrived from Mexico, looking for his mother Marisol, who went missing after crossing the border with a vicious coyote.

Before long, the cynical lawyer and the savvy kid are bonding and tracing Marisol’s path, battling predators on both sides of the border. Most dangerous of all is Simeon Rutledge, a wealthy rancher, and the biggest employer of farm workers in California. Just why is Rutledge willing to kill Payne to keep Marisol under wraps?

It’s a story of human trafficking and sex slavery, a mother’s love for her son, and the redemption of a man intent on escaping his past. From the shadows of migrant stash houses to the fertile fields of the San Joaquin Valley, ‘Illegal’ delivers a searing mix of live-wire prose, shattering violence, and rich characterization. Set against larger social issues, this is a masterful tale from one of the most skillful practitioners of the modern thriller.

ILLEGAL is available from Amazon.


“Levine is one of the few thriller authors who can craft a plot filled with suspense while still making the readers smile at the characters’ antics.”–Chicago Sun-Times

“As thought provoking as it is action packed, ‘Illegal’ doesn’t shy away from depicting the ruthlessness of human smuggling.”–South Florida Sun-Sentinel

“A fast-paced and witty novel. Good for Levine that in the midst of this heavy drama, his complex characters pull us into their lives and keep us turning pages.”–Los Angeles Daily Journal

“‘Illegal’ has such a strong page-turning narrative that Levine’s detailed reporting on immigration never gets in the way of the suspense and the black comedy.”–Connecticut Post

“The seamy side of smuggling human cargo is deftly exposed by the clear and concise writing of the Edgar Award nominated author. ‘Illegal’ is highly recommended.”–Midwest Book Review

“The combination of real-world situations, nail-biting suspense and a new character in the Levine mythos make ‘Illegal’ a title for your must-read list.”–

“Timely, tumultuous, and in a word, terrific.”-Providence Journal


The author of 16 novels, Paul Levine won the John D. MacDonald fiction award and was nominated for the Edgar, Macavity, International Thriller, and James Thurber prizes. A former trial lawyer, he also wrote more than 20 episodes of the CBS military drama “JAG” and co-created the Supreme Court drama “First Monday” starring James Garner and Joe Mantegna. The critically acclaimed international bestseller “To Speak for the Dead” was his first novel. He is also the author of the “Solomon vs. Lord” series and the thrillers “Illegal,” “Ballistic,” and “Paydirt.” His most recent novel is “Lassiter.” You can sign up for the author’s free newsletter and be eligible for signed books and more at

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