The criminal defense lawyer. Redefined.
Martin H. Ehrengraf, dapper and diabolical, may be Lawrence Block's darkest creation. He's the defense attorney who never sees the inside of a courtroom, because all his clients are innocent - no matter how guilty they may seem. Some even believe themselves to be guilty: They remember pulling the trigger, or wiring the dynamite to their spouse's car, or holding the bloody blade. But things have a way of working out when Martin Ehrengraf is on the case. Evidence turns up, incriminating someone else. More murders occur, with the same M.O. And the gate of the jail cell opens, and the accused walks free.
But be careful - hiring Martin Ehrengraf comes with a price. A high price, one that comes due even if he appears to have done nothing on your behalf. And you'd better be prepared to pay...
Here at last are the complete exploits of Martin Ehrengraf: a dozen delicious tales of vice and villainy including one - ''The Ehrengraf Fandango'' - that is appearing for the first time anywhere. It's a 12-course meal of sinister surprises, exquisitely prepared and served simmering hot by the greatest living master of mystery fiction.
The author keeps digging holes and getting out of them in the most ingenious and entertaining manner. I have never been disappointed by Lawrence Block and the character in this book proved to be no exception.
Martin H. Ehrengraf is a smooth motherf**ker. Cunning, too. Devious might be a better word. He's a lawyer after all. If you're in a real jam, he's the man you call. Martin's trick is that he hates going to court. He'd much rather get everything settled before he has to set foot in the halls of justice to defend his client. He's got a flawless record, though. And that comes at a fairly high price.
There are twelve stories in all, eleven of which previously appeared in the pages of Ellery Queen Mystery Magaine. From what little I've read of that mag, it highlights the more clever mysteries as opposed to the more hard-boiled, hard-bitten tales, and this bunch certainly falls into the realm of clever. There is, by virtue of the rather ominous deals struck between Ehrengraf and his clients, that I suspect stood out from the usual fare of that mag.
For many of his clients, it appears on the surface that he hasn't done much lawyering at all to ensure their exoneration. Extenuating circumstances and simple strokes of luck seem to be the order of the day, and that gives some pause in honoring the steep payments demanded of them. And there's one thing you do not do with Ehrengraf and that is renege on an agreement.
Don Sobczak's voice work for the audiobook is really good in capturing that casually sophisticated tone of Ehrengraf that holds an undercurrent of menace. It's just a hint really when he gives his subtle warnings to his clients about the costs of his services and the resoluteness of his approach to keeping them "innocent."
The stories may come off a bit repetitive when digested in one swoop, but bear in mind these were published weeks or months apart originally, and the setting is always the same, so there are some limits to how the story can progress and how multiple stories can be received all at once. But Block fans shouldn't be too troubled by that, and should find that same wry passion for crime fiction, as always.
2 of 2 people found this review helpful
Lawrence Block is the winner of multiple awards as a mystery writer and has been writing since the 1950's and has written more than 50 books and Short Stories. Defender of the Innocent is a collection of short stories written about Martin H. Ehrengraf a dapper little lawyer whose clients all turn out to be innocent. I would love to see this made into a movie starring Danny DeVito.
These stories are fun and creative, although slightly unbelievable that no one would notice how many suspects get off in somewhat the same manner. Besides that one issue the stories are very enjoyable and the audiobook as a whole is a great investment of time and money.
Narrated by Don Sobczak, who brings this dark yet optimistic and sincere attorney to life. All of the different characters are uniquely represented and show the range of this performance artist. Sobczak takes the short stories and makes them seem fluid in space and time. Don increased the level of enjoyment from just reading to a listening experience. This audiobook is a must listen for any darker minded legal thriller fans.
I received this book as a gift for an honest review.
What made the experience of listening to Defender of the Innocent the most enjoyable?
The tongue in cheek humor was so subtle. That made it even funnier.
What was one of the most memorable moments of Defender of the Innocent?
The greatest scenes were the ones where potential clients admit their guilt to the little lawyer yet he persists in his theory that are innocent.
What about Don Sobczak’s performance did you like?
Don Sobvczak did an excellent job with a variety of voices from the gruffest men to soft-spoken women... and always understated.
Who was the most memorable character of Defender of the Innocent and why?
Martin Ehrengraf, of course, is the most memorable character in the stories. Also the crazy young psychopath who killed his parents while using the drug EKG was a close second.
Any additional comments?
Although I've read a few of the stories in the past, I thoroughly enjoyed listening to them along with the ones that had escaped me. Having worked in the legal profession for many years, I found the stories hilarious.