Publisher: St. Martin’s Paperbacks
Location: 175 Fifth Ave, NY,NY
Cover: AP Images/The Tennessean, JAI/Corbis
reviewed by: Lynard Barnes 2/28/2009
Summary: Wife disappears from home and never seen again. Ten years later, the husband is convicted of murder.
In 2007, Perry March filed a lawsuit against Fred Dalton Thompson of the Law & Order television series and soon-to-be presidential candidate. Author Jeanne King writes in NEVER SEEN AGAIN that the lawsuit in federal court was for “libel, slander and assault”. King also reports that March’s lawyer, John Herbison, convinced March to drop the lawsuit. Others facing the river of lawsuits streaming from Perry Avram March, convicted of second degree murder and stealing $23,000 from his former law firm, are not so fortunate.
In early August 1996, Janet Levine, wife of Perry March, disappeared from her home in Nashville, Tennessee. On August 29, the Nashville police were notified of the disappearance. Janet Levine’s body was never found. Ten years later, Perry March was put on trail for his wife’s murder and found guilty. While awaiting trial, March participated in a plot to kill the parents of his former wife. NEVER SEEN AGAIN is about what happened during those intervening ten years which lead up to his trial. It is primarily a story about lawsuits involving custody of the two children March had with Janet Levine and of March’s parade of shady deals while living in Mexico.
A little over a month after his wife’s disappearance, March moved from Tennessee to Illinois and from Illinois to Mexico. Hot on his itinerary was a lawsuit by Larry and Carolyn Levine, Janet’s parents, to try to keep the two March children in Tennessee. Author Jeanne King starts the list of March’s litigation barrage with a probate petition March filed two months after Janet disappeared. He wanted his wife’s bank accounts. These two legal arenas-child custody and Janet Levine’s estate-would see a constant stream of filings and motions right up until March is convicted of his wife’s murder. Then beyond when March would engage legal action as a convicted murderer.
In reading NEVER SEEN AGAIN one gets the feeling that the book suffers from a lack of focus on its central subject-the murder of Janet Levine. However, one can reasonably argue that the central focus is Perry March, the perpetrator. If that is the case, then the book does an adequate job of explaining the circumstances of Janet Levine’s disappearance and murder. Why did it take over seven years for the police to tie together a string of circumstantial evidence pointing to duplicity and outright lies by March in connection with his wife’s disappearance? Why did it take eight years for Davidson County prosecutors to stand before a grand jury and charge Perry March with murder? The answers are in the book but are inferential rather than stated. That’s bad.
It could be argued that March, being a lawyer, knew how to play the system. This is the knowledge is power assessment. March’s story was that his wife walked out the door on the night of August 16th leaving a list of chores for him to do and disappeared from the face of the earth. No reason. Over a year later, even the young son of the couple will say that he waved to his mother from his upstairs bedroom window on the night that she left. March stuck to the story without deviations, with elaborations.
On December 7, 2004 when the grand jury handed down the indictment for murder, nothing in Perry March’s story had changed. The police were still in possession of the same string of circumstantial evidence. All that changed of course once March was in custody, sitting in jail surrounded by like-minded mindless sociopaths. In relating the trial and tribulations of Janet’s parents, of March’s excursions into fraudulent and deceptive real-estate deals, author Jeanne King does not tell us how or why the Nashville legal machinery finally decided it was time to reign-in the flag-ship Perry Avram March. In the end, it was March himself, with his instigation or simple participation in the plot to have his in-laws killed, that finally unraveled the curtains hiding the murder of his wife.
NEVER SEEN AGAIN condenses ten years of history into 239 pages. Perhaps due to the legal wrangling involving the March children, the very evident though seemingly understated part that Arthur March, Perry March’s father played in the murder of Janet, and the seeming absence, as portrayed in this book, of a real effort by Nashville authorities to solve Janet March’s murder, the book offers little of noteworthy value. Dig a little deeper however, the reader can come away with a smigen of understanding of how March “played the system” to avoid being charged with murder for almost ten years. But then, that raises other issues not discussed in the book.