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Falls the Shadow

Falls the Shadow

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by William Lashner
     
 

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New York Times bestselling author William Lashner returns with a brilliantly twisty tale that probes the dark side of the law -- and man

Unlike the rest of you, I cheerfully admit to my own utter selfishness. I am self-made, self-absorbed, self-serving, self-referential, even self-deprecating, in a charming sort of way. In short, I am all the selfs

Overview

New York Times bestselling author William Lashner returns with a brilliantly twisty tale that probes the dark side of the law -- and man

Unlike the rest of you, I cheerfully admit to my own utter selfishness. I am self-made, self-absorbed, self-serving, self-referential, even self-deprecating, in a charming sort of way. In short, I am all the selfs except selfless. Yet every so often, I run across a force of nature that shakes my sublime self-centeredness to its very roots. Something that tears through the landscape like a tornado, leaving nothing but ruin and reexamination in its wake. Something like Bob.
--Victor Carl

A beautiful young woman is dead, her husband convicted of the murder. In seeking a new trial for the husband, defense attorney Victor Carl must confront not only a determined prosecutor and a police detective who might have set up his client, but also a strange little busybody named Bob.

Bob has the aspiration, one could even say compulsion, to help those around him. And it usually works out well for all concerned, except when it ends in blood. But Victor doesn’t know that . . . yet.

Thanks to Bob, Victor is suddenly dressing better, dating a stunning woman, and both his economic prospects and his teeth are gleaming. It’s all good, until Victor finds a troubling connection between Bob and the murdered wife. Is Bob a kind of saint or is this obsessive Good Samaritan, in reality, a murderer?

Filled with the keen wit, deep poignancy, twisting suspense, and dark realism that has entranced readers, impressed reviewers, and made William Lashner’s previous novels bestsellers, Falls the Shadow is a riveting novel sure to leave readers eager for more.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Payment in advance lures cheerfully selfish criminal defense attorney Victor Carl (who last fought the good fight in 2004's Past Due) to seek a new trial for Fran ois Dub , a charming French chef convicted of murdering his beautiful wife, in Lashner's fifth legal thriller. Like every case in every courtroom drama, Dub 's is more complicated than it first appears, involving secrets that could humiliate, if not bring down, half of Philadelphia society. Carl, who thinks Dub did it even as his partner, Beth Derringer, says otherwise, is further distracted by a new pro bono client he's taken on and a throbbing toothache that sends him into the less-than-tender hands of Dr. Bob, a dentist who takes a holistic approach by involving himself in every aspect of his patients' lives. Soon Carl's getting himself a new girlfriend, a new wardrobe, new dental work and a new set of troubles from the cream of Philadelphia high life. Lashner works overtime to amuse the reader, arming his tough-talking characters with jokes to spare, leading to a tone that's somewhere between Raymond Chandler and Chandler Bing. Toning down the relentless wisecracking might have helped sell the more serious parts of the book (would the victim's grieving mother really tease Carl about his missing tooth?), but the well-staged plot twists and Carl's amusingly amoral narration make for good beach reading. Agent, Wendy Sherman. (May) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
As he defends a husband accused of murder, attorney Victor Carl is getting a lot of social polishing from an obsessively friendly dentist he just met. Just a coincidence? Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Lashner's sardonic defense attorney unravels layers of deception in the retrial of a charming convicted killer. A dark and stylish woman named Velma Takahashi hires Philadelphia lawyers Victor Carl (Past Due, 2004, etc.) and Beth Derringer to secure a new trial for suave chef Francois Dube, who has already served three years for the violent murder of his wife Leesa. He-or someone-shot her through the neck. Victor, who dryly narrates the tale, is unconvinced of Dube's innocence and concerned that Beth, "the patron saint of lost causes," has fallen for his continental charm and blinded herself to the facts. Nonetheless, money talks; the two take the case, and Victor begins investigating. And there's much to look into. The state's star witness was Seamus Dent, a petty criminal with an addiction to karaoke. Not long after the trial, he was killed in a suspicious police shooting. Victor reconstructs this crime, while also looking into the checkered past of a police detective named Torricelli, another key witness who may have perjured himself, and verifying allegations of Dube's rampant womanizing. The supposed flash point for the killing was Leesa's confrontation of Dube regarding his extracurricular activities. Relatedly, who is Velma Takahashi and why is she footing the bill for Dube's defense? Victor digs up several seamy backstories about the Dubes, including drug addiction and pornography with underage participants. Along the way, he and Beth have several disagreements stemming from their different views of the defendant, arguments that put a real strain on their relationship. A grim and equally complex though less grisly subplot has Victor on the trail of missing children in a pro bonofamily court case. Meanwhile, casting a pall over Victor's life and a comic sheen on the story is the saga of Victor's increasingly throbbing tooth. He makes the mistake of choosing loopy Dr. Bob Pfeiffer to ease his dental pain. Another overstuffed ramble through the legal system from Lashner, who trades smart and entertaining riffs for narrative tension.
Wall Street Journal
“Falls the Shadow manages to be both deadly serious and frequently hilarious.”
Texas Lawyer
“For a novel that is like life, read William Lashner’s Falls the Shadow.”

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780061742798
Publisher:
HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
10/13/2009
Series:
Victor Carl Series , #5
Sold by:
HARPERCOLLINS
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
528
Sales rank:
130,936
File size:
679 KB

Read an Excerpt

Falls the Shadow


By William Lashner

William Morrow

ISBN: 0-06-072156-1


Chapter One

Unlike the rest of you, I cheerfully admit to my own utter selfishness. I am self-made, self-absorbed, self-serving, self-referential, even self-deprecating, in a charming sort of way. In short, I am all the selfs except selfless. Yet every so often I run across a force of nature that shakes my sublime self-centeredness to its very roots. Something that tears through the landscape like a tornado, leaving nothing but ruin and reexamination in its wake. Something like Bob.

Take, for example, the strange happenings one night when I brought Bob to a bar called Chaucer's.

Chaucer's was strictly a neighborhood joint, prosaic as they come, except for the name. The narrow corner bar had rock posters glued to the walls, Rolling Rock on tap, a jukebox stocked with Jim Morrison and Ella Fitzgerald. It was the kind of bar where you drank when you weren't in the mood to put on a nicer pair of shoes.

"My, what a colorful establishment," said Bob as we stepped inside.

"It's just a bar," I said.

"Oh, it's more than that, Victor. A bar is never just a bar. It is like a watering hole on some great African plain, where all creatures great and small sit by clean blue waters to relax and refresh themselves."

"Don't get out much, do you?"

"Look around. Can't you see the cycle of nature revolving before your very eyes?"

I looked, but there wasn't much cycling to see. A quartet of college kids were laughing in a booth. A mismatched couple was arguing at the bar. An old man was nursing a beer and complaining to another old man, who showed little interest in anything but his Scotch. The usual weeknight crowd at Chaucer's.

We took a table by the window. I flagged the waitress, ordered a Sea Breeze for me, and looked at Bob for his order.

"J&B on ice," said Bob, "with a twist."

About right, I figured, the last part anyway. At first glance, Bob didn't appear to be worth a second. He was short, soft and pudgy, with heavy black glasses that slipped down his nose and made him look like a fumbling schoolboy. Even with a five o'clock shadow worthy of Fred Flintstone, there was something sexless about him. Women scanning the watering hole for men scanned right past Bob. Their gaze would catch on leering hyenas from South Jersey, on lummoxes from South Philly, on old lemurs with expensive haircuts, on empty chairs, but not on Bob. He was of less interest to them than the furniture. They knew the type right off: the guy who works to fit in, who doesn't make waves, who accepts the world as it is, the guy who watches television on Saturday nights because he has nothing better to do, the guy with a hobby. And they would be right, sort of. I mean, it turned out he did have a hobby.

"I used to fish as a boy," said Bob, after I asked what he did with himself after work. "Yellow perch, caught with fathead minnows. But with the condition of the Schuylkill, that's impossible here. So nowadays I simply try to help."

"You say that a lot," I said. "What exactly do yo u mean? Do yo u volunteer?"

"In a way."

"Community service? Outreach for the homeless? Crisis hotline?"

"It varies. I lend a hand where I'm needed."

"Freelance do-gooder?"

"Yes, I suppose. Something like that. Do you do much good in the world, Victor?"

"Not intentionally."

"Unintentionally, then?"

"I'm a lawyer, I represent clients, and I do that to the best of my ability. If any good comes out of what I do, so be it."

"Like the murder case you're trying now."

My ears pricked up. "That's right."

"A bit bloody, isn't it, representing murderers?"

"That would make it right up your alley, no?"

He clapped his hands and laughed. Bob laughed like a car alarm; when first it goes off, you don't mind so much, but after a while you want to choke someone.

"You're right," he said when the sire n calmed. "I'm not one to squeal at a little spill of blood. And sometimes, as you well know, it's more than a little. But do you think any good will come from you putting your client back on the street?"

"Honestly? No. I don't like him much and trust him less."

"And still you represent him."

"He paid me a retainer."

"A rather mercenary approach."

"Is there any other?"

"Sure there is. A far better one. Maybe I'll show you. Pay attention now. Did you see that couple at the bar?"

"The one that is fighting?"

"Very good, Victor. I'm impressed. Well, the fight has escalated and he has stormed off toward the restroom. They've been together for a while but are now going through a rocky patch. You know the point that a couple gets to, where they must decide to either break up or get married? That's the point they've reached."

"How do you know that?"

"I've been watching, listening. People, I've found, are so transparent. She is upset, and she's almost finished her beer." He snatched up his drink, downed it, slammed the glass back on the bar. "You stay here. I think I'll buy her another."

I was about to say something about how it didn't seem the most opportune time to hit on her, but he was already out of his seat, on his way to the bar. While his back was turned, I used a napkin to lift his small glass, dump the ice and lemon rind into my now empty Sea Breeze, and deposit the glass into a plastic bag I had brought just for the occasion. Surreptitiously, I placed the bag in my jacket pocket ...

(Continues...)



Excerpted from Falls the Shadow by William Lashner Excerpted by permission.
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Meet the Author

New York Times bestselling author William Lashner is the author of seven suspense novels that have been published in more than a dozen languages throughout the world. A graduate of the University of Iowa's Writers' Workshop, he lives with his family outside of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

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