Thursday, December 06, 2007

My New Favorite Lawyer

Hostile Witness is my second William Lashner novel and now I am truly hooked. What got me is the marvelous complexity of Victor Carl, the lawyer-protagonist-everyman. He is, contrary to the grishamlike model, a man who has been dealt a hand that is not quite up to his ambitions. He is the prototypical American hero with a dose of realistic ambivalence thrown in.
Hostile Witness also gives Carl a sex life and it's a life that's more realistic than rosy. Lashner doesn't exactly write sex scenes, what he does is give us the protag's view of what's happening and what it means to him. The effect is-sadly-not terribly erotic but wonderfully personal and the hero emerges even more fully human in the reader's eyes.
Lashner's plotting always seems to involve two cases. One is the major theme of the book and is strictly the work of the devil. The other is a minor theme and has a tendency to warm the heart. His plot construction, with its long set-ups and violently surprising twists is masterful.
Hostile witness is also a dark portrait of Philadelphia. Most people who know the city think of it as a fairly voluptuous place known for its pleasures: restaurants, theatres, foodmarkets, music and restaurants. (Did I mention restaurants?). But while the pleasures make for good living, they don't always make for good reading and Lashner accurately depicts the grime behind the crime.
This is lawyer-fiction on a whole new level.

Lynn Hoffman author of bang BANG

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