Official Review: The Look-Alike by Joseph A. Levy

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Cecilia_L
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Official Review: The Look-Alike by Joseph A. Levy

Post by Cecilia_L » 15 Jul 2018, 07:05

[Following is an official OnlineBookClub.org review of "The Look-Alike" by Joseph A. Levy.]
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2 out of 4 stars
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Can you imagine being falsely accused, arrested, and subsequently indicted for a crime you didn’t commit? The Look-Alike by Joseph A. Levy is a legal mystery about a case of mistaken identity set in the early eighties, before the convenience of online research.

Michael Biton is a hard-working legal student who has every reason to be optimistic about his future. After finishing his first year at Brooklyn Law School, he has recently started an internship with Corporation Counsel, the law office that defends the City of New York’s accident cases. However, Michael’s life is turned upside-down when a rape victim identifies him as her assailant. Despite the lack of any physical evidence against him, assistant district attorney Nancy Lester seems to have a personal vendetta against him. Michael’s future is put on hold as he faces one challenge after another in his personal life during the twenty-one months that elapse while awaiting his case to be brought to trial. As the financial strain of paying his attorney creates added tension, Michael clings to his faith in the legal system, desperate for his name to be cleared.

The strength of the book is found in the portrayal of the close-knit Jewish family’s faith and commitment to each other. Michael’s parents are from Morocco, and there are many interesting references to the family’s Sephardic Jewish heritage throughout the book. However, though I’m partial to legal thrillers and couldn’t wait to read this one, the storyline seemed to drag as much as the court case calendar. I kept turning pages in hopes of a plot twist that would quicken the pace, but the book simply didn’t deliver. When I learned that the author had resigned from practicing law after twenty years in response to his own circumstances of disillusionment, I came to the conclusion that he must have been making a statement about the legal system itself. The book would have been better suited written as autobiographical non-fiction.

I also noted several inconsistencies in the plot. For example, early in the book, Michael is asked by a detective if he would be willing to provide a blood sample as a possible means of eliminating him as a suspect. He responds that he will have to first consult with his lawyer. While the blood test isn’t addressed between Michael and his attorney, much later in the book the subject is again introduced as if for the first time. When I have to thumb backwards through a book to see if I misread or misunderstood a significant point due to the author’s mistake, I find it frustrating. In addition, the book doesn’t appear to have been professionally edited, as there are multiple punctuation and typographical errors.

Before recommending the book to specific audiences, I feel the need to include a warning about the use of profanity. Though I only noted several instances, I was disappointed that all are gendered curse words that are disrespectful to women. There are also a few off-colored jokes in relation to rape that I simply can’t fathom. For all the above reasons, I rate this book 2 out of 4 stars. Despite the issues I mentioned, it was still a fair read, so I don’t believe it deserves a lower rating. Legal students and fans of leisurely paced legal dramas may enjoy the book. It may also appeal to students of religion and Jewish readers. I would not recommend the book to lovers of legal suspense.

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The Look-Alike
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Miriam Molina
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Post by Miriam Molina » 19 Jul 2018, 05:52

It seems like this one is a mistrial. I am a legal thriller fan, having read Perry Mason as a preteen. I love court scenes, and "overruled" and "sustained" raise my adrenaline. Always rooting for the underdog, I usually hate the prosecutor.

It seems this book will not give me the high I'm looking for. Case dismissed!

Thanks for the review, Cecilia_L! Your review might be more thrilling than the book.

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Post by Cecilia_L » 19 Jul 2018, 07:45

Miriam Molina wrote: ↑
19 Jul 2018, 05:52
It seems like this one is a mistrial. I am a legal thriller fan, having read Perry Mason as a preteen. I love court scenes, and "overruled" and "sustained" raise my adrenaline. Always rooting for the underdog, I usually hate the prosecutor.

It seems this book will not give me the high I'm looking for. Case dismissed!

Thanks for the review, Cecilia_L! Your review might be more thrilling than the book.
We seem to be kindred spirits in this regard. What you described is just what I had in mind when I selected the book. Though I will say the prosecutor is easy to hate in this one, I understand your dismissal. Thanks for stopping by. Your clever comment brought a smile to my face.

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Post by afolabidamilare » 19 Jul 2018, 09:43

It seems like this one is a mistrial. I am a legal thriller fan, having read Perry Mason as a preteen. I love court scenes, and "overruled" and "sustained" raise my adrenaline. Always rooting for the underdog, I usually hate the prosecutor.
It seems this book will not give me the high I'm looking for. Case dismissed!

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Post by teacherjh » 19 Jul 2018, 20:17

I love crime thrillers and the Jewish element sounds interesting, but I hate draggy plots. This one probably isn’t for me. Thanks.

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Post by Cecilia_L » 19 Jul 2018, 22:34

teacherjh wrote: ↑
19 Jul 2018, 20:17
I love crime thrillers and the Jewish element sounds interesting, but I hate draggy plots. This one probably isn’t for me. Thanks.
I hear you! Thanks for your comment.

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Post by Bonnie Shelby » 20 Jul 2018, 12:16

Fantastic review! The book seems way too depressing and slow for my tastes though. The inconsistencies and errors would also drive me crazy, so I'll pass on this one, but thanks for the review :)

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Post by hsimone » 20 Jul 2018, 12:28

Oh boy, being falsely accused of murder sounds scary! It's great to hear that family was a strong point in the book, but it's too bad that the plot failed in delivering an exciting tale. I also am not a fan of finding inconsistencies in books and having to go back to see if I've missed something is frustrating. Too bad about the editing issues. I, too, don't enjoy the use of profanity, especially targeted to women. This doesn't seem like it's for me, but I appreciate your insightful review. :)
"Love is patient, love is kind." -1 Corinthians 13:4

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Post by Cecilia_L » 20 Jul 2018, 13:38

Bonnie Shelby wrote: ↑
20 Jul 2018, 12:16
Fantastic review! The book seems way too depressing and slow for my tastes though. The inconsistencies and errors would also drive me crazy, so I'll pass on this one, but thanks for the review :)
Thank you for reading and commenting on my review!

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Cecilia_L
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Post by Cecilia_L » 20 Jul 2018, 13:49

hsimone wrote: ↑
20 Jul 2018, 12:28
Oh boy, being falsely accused of murder sounds scary! It's great to hear that family was a strong point in the book, but it's too bad that the plot failed in delivering an exciting tale. I also am not a fan of finding inconsistencies in books and having to go back to see if I've missed something is frustrating. Too bad about the editing issues. I, too, don't enjoy the use of profanity, especially targeted to women. This doesn't seem like it's for me, but I appreciate your insightful review. :)
Thank you, and I appreciate your comment!

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Post by KristyKhem » 21 Jul 2018, 13:28

Like you, I hate to go back to a point in a book especially when there is ambiguity! Although the premise seems unique and interesting, it is sad that the story wasn't fast-paced or riveting. I like your review and I think you did a great job exploring the pros and cons of this book.

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Post by Cecilia_L » 21 Jul 2018, 21:57

KristyKhem wrote: ↑
21 Jul 2018, 13:28
Like you, I hate to go back to a point in a book especially when there is ambiguity! Although the premise seems unique and interesting, it is sad that the story wasn't fast-paced or riveting. I like your review and I think you did a great job exploring the pros and cons of this book.
Thank you. I appreciate your comment!

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Post by Ginnamassa19 » 22 Jul 2018, 03:27

This book sounded okay until you mentioned the rape jokes and gendered slurs. *insert frustrated sigh* I don't think I'll be picking it up any time soon, but thank you for your clear, nuanced critique--I enjoyed your review even if I don't think I'll enjoy the novel! XD

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Post by kfwilson6 » 23 Jul 2018, 11:24

:( I am a huge fan of legal thrillers and the premise sounded quite interesting. It sounds like all of the loose ends are not quite tied off though. This sounds like it would end up disappointing me.
Excellent review. I love the comparison between the trial schedule and the pace of the story.

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Post by Cecilia_L » 23 Jul 2018, 11:25

Ginnamassa19 wrote: ↑
22 Jul 2018, 03:27
This book sounded okay until you mentioned the rape jokes and gendered slurs. *insert frustrated sigh* I don't think I'll be picking it up any time soon, but thank you for your clear, nuanced critique--I enjoyed your review even if I don't think I'll enjoy the novel! XD
I understand. Thank you for your comment!

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