Block, Lawrence. Defender of the Innocent: The Casebook of Martin Ehrengraf.

Burton, MI: Subterranean Press, 2014.

Block has been writing — and publishing — fiction for an amazing number of decades, most of it crime-related, though he attempted many other forms when he was starting out. In the late 1970s, he began a series of short stories, all but one of which appeared in Ellery Queen, featuring a defense attorney who worked on contingency: If he didn’t get you off, you didn’t pay.

They were collected and republished in the ’90s, and now they’re back in print again. Ehrengraf specializs in murder cases and he always prefers that his clients not even have to stand trial. And somehow, new evidence always turns up pointing the finger elsewhere, or a single homicide seems to turn into a serial case, or something. Most important, he knows his clients are innocent on principle, even if they admit they actually did it. And they all know better than to quibble over Ehrengraf’s high fee.

These dozen stories are both a bit dark (though not graphic) and ironically satirical, and while they’re not great literature, they’re entertaining. Block is practically the definition of the professional who writes for a living. He may be a “hack,” but he’s a great one.

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Published in: on 10 September 2015 at 7:58 am  Leave a Comment  
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