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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."
"Yes, I suppose. Something like that. Do you do much good in the world, Victor?"
"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 ...
Excerpted from Falls the Shadow by William Lashner Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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Posted April 6, 2013
Posted March 4, 2012
It's nice to see a writer develop a character. Victor isn't quite so unsure of himself in this book. He looks a his life with more hope and certainly more humor. Great read.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted May 28, 2005
Setting his 5th thriller in Philadelphia (where he lives) was a good move for author Lashner as it enables him to accurately paint his setting, and give listeners much to smile about as he describes some of the nabobs in the City of Brotherly Love. Saying Lashner made a good move isn't exactly a news flash. Readers of his 2004 best seller, 'Past Due, know that he seldom errs. Another of Lashner's better choices is the creation of defense attorney Victor Carl who isn't known for his strict observance of law and morals. Carl has a mind that won't quit and an ego that matches. He's also one of the most intriguing protagonists on the printed page. Voice performer Don Leslie gives a full throttle reading of Carl's latest escapades, making this story a listening standout. Carl has taken on the task of trying to get a new trail for convicted murderer, Francois Dube. Obviously, Dube is French; he also a chef and his supposed murder victim? His very beautiful wife. Almost as an aside, although it turns out to be much more than that, Carl develops a painful toothache for which he seeks relief from Dr. Bob. Now, Dr. Bob isn't just your ordinary drill and pay dentist, he's someone who very much wants to help his patients in every aspect of their lives. Very much wants is putting it mildly - Dr. Bob is obsessive about meddling and making changes in others where he feels they should be made. In true thriller fashion it soon appears that there is tie-in between the determined dentist and Dube's late wife. Listen and enjoy Lashner's ever present humor, intricate plotting, and charismatic characters. - Gail CookeWas this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted December 9, 2008
Leesa Dube was shot in the chest in her own home, the picture of her estranged husband Francois clutched in her hand. The couple was in the middle of a bitter divorce fighting for custody of their daughter. In his home they found a bloody towel and a blood spot on his boot, a perfect match to Leesa¿s blood. A jury convicted him of murder and sentenced him to life in prison............................ Three years after his conviction Francois hires attorney Victor Carl and his partner Beth to get his verdict overturned and to obtain a new trial. To Victor¿s surprise he finds suppressed evidence that earns the con a new trial. While preparing for the legal battle of his life, the courts appoint Victor to work pro bono representing four year old Daniel who is taken out of his home because of his mother¿s neglect. Weaving throughout Victor¿s life is his dentist Bob, who has a Messiah complex and works in the shadows to right the world¿s wrongs. Victor is not sure whether Bob is a Good Samaritan or a master manipulator with adulating followers who carry out his desires whether they are good or evil............... Anyone who has a dental phobia will never want to visit a dentist after reading about Dr. Bob and the lengths he will go to in order to make the world a better place even if the methods he uses turn out to be illegal. Victor tries hard to remain uncaring and cynical but his nurturing nature propels him to lend a helping hand when he is needed. Readers will admire him and more so William Lashner who is one of the best writers of legal thrillers on the market today.......................... Harriet KlausnerWas this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted October 4, 2010
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