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The Sirens of Suspense




Born and reared in Central Ohio, Barbara Levenson was the first woman elected to the Columbus, Ohio Board of Education after unseating an incumbent. Barbara later became the board’s first female president. She was honored for her work by being chosen the first woman to receive the “Ohio Newspaper Man of the Year” award.

When her husband’s work took the Levensons to Miami, Florida, Barbara decided to go to law school. She graduated cum laude from the University of Miami School of Law and went to work as a prosecutor for Janet Reno, prosecuting drug trafficking cases.

Several years later, Barbara decided to open her own law office specializing in criminal defense and civil rights litigation. She handled many interesting cases, one of which led her to be interviewed on TV by Nightline.

In 1992, Barbara decided to run for election to a judgeship on the Circuit Court of Florida. She won in a three way race without a runoff and served for twelve years, most of it spent in criminal court.

At the end of her second term, she took senior status and began another new career: mystery novelist. She is the author of Fatal February and Justice in June, as well as her latest mystery OUTRAGEOUS OCTOBER.

A frequent commentator and guest on the national television program “In Session” (formerly Court TV) Barbara Levenson has lived in Miami, Florida for the past 35 years.

Barbara and her husband, a retired financial consultant, bred and showed German Shepherd Dogs for 20 years and finished eleven champions in the show ring. They have two sons, both of whom are lawyers.


Find Barbara on Facebook and Twitter.


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What is it about sharing your life with a dog that makes every day fun? My husband and I raised and showed German Shepherd dogs for twenty years. I’ve always had at least one dog when I was growing up. When I had children, we had a variety of dogs; Dalmatians and an Irish Setter

Then one day the children were grown and we had one aging dog. I was working as a prosecutor and doing night search warrant duty, meaning my phone would ring in the middle of the night and I would be called to meet police officers and draft a warrant that would pass muster with a judge. Driving around Miami in the middle of the night is not the safest practice for a woman.

We took a vacation to Maine one summer and on our way to the ocean in midcoast Maine, we passed a beautiful kennel. Something made us backtrack and stop to see the dogs that lived in an idyllic setting. When we learned they were German shepherds, I wasn’t excited. I had never thought of this breed as being friendly and huggable, but when I saw a litter of puppies that resembled teddy bears, I melted.

So we “adopted” our first shepherd, Duchess. She was trained to protect me in the car at night. In fact she wouldn’t let anybody in a car that she was riding in. When not on duty, she was a big floppy loving companion. Because the kennel owner greatly prized her as perfect for breeding, he persuaded us to breed her to a beautiful male shepherd. She had several litters of healthy and intelligent puppies.

One day someone saw one of our puppies and said that he looked like a show dog. We said, “what’s a show dog?” Thus began a twenty year hobby, fourteen litters of puppies, and a kennel constructed on the back of our house with air conditioning and running water. Most people in Miami build a cabana next to their pool. We opted for a kennel. Over the years, we finished eleven champions in the show ring. These beautiful dogs introduced us to a life style and group of people we never would have known. If you have ever seen the movie “Best In Show”, it is all true. People become totally devoted to their dogs, often spending more time grooming them, than grooming themselves. This was never my problem. I never travel without my hair dryer, one for me and one for the dogs.

As with all forms of life, time travels through the lifetime of people and animals. A few years ago we were down to our last two dogs of our own breeding. Our last male champion, Ned, died leaving only Millie, our quirky female who thought she was the mother of all the pups in our household. She was bereft without other dogs to care for. And then one morning a picture appeared in the Miami Herald of a gorgeous male shepherd in a shelter. We couldn’t believe such a beautiful dog would have been abandoned. We went to the shelter immediately and found Mac. He was emaciated and sickly but I knew he could be beautiful with some TLC.

We took him to the vet, got him cured of Lyme disease, gave him good nutrition and a bit of training and today he is the smartest and best behaved of all the dogs with whom I have ever shared my home. He is my constant companion sitting next to me while I write. That’s where he is right now.

If you have never adopted a shelter dog, you are missing out on unconditional love and loyalty. Dogs know how to show gratitude in ways we people can never fully achieve. Saving a dog from life in a shelter or worse is the easiest way to achieve happiness for you every time your dog looks adoringly at you, and for the dog every time you fill his plate.

Now you know why all the Mary Magruder Katz mystery series that I write have a major character who is Mary’s German shepherd, Sam, named for Uncle Sam since Mary found him on her front lawn on the fourth of July, an abandoned puppy.

I never knew there were so many aficionados of German shepherds until I wrote the MMK mysteries. Now I get amazing and amusing pictures of shepherds on Facebook and Twitter. Some readers tell me that the main reason they read my books is to chuckle over the antics of Sam that they can relate to.

Sam will definitely be around throughout the series. You can catch up with Mary, her hot Latin lover, Carlos, and Sam in Fatal February, Justice In June, Outrageous October ,and this September in their newest adventures in Neurotic November.

If you are a dog lover and/or a mystery novel reader, I’d love to hear from you. Visit my website: barbaralevenson.com, and e-mail me. Pictures of your dog are greatly appreciated.




HOW HAS A PET CHANGED YOUR LIFE Tell us by commenting on the blog below or on our Facebook page and you’ll be entered to win a a copy of JUSTICE IN JUNE (U.S. entrants only, please.)



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