Thursday, 30 May 2019
LAWRENCE BLOCK - THE EHRENGRAF FANDANGO (2014)
The Ehrengraf Fandango is the twelfth story featuring Margtin Ehrengraf, the famously criminous criminal lawyer. Ehrengraf, sustained by the presumption that any client of his is perforce innocent, somehow manages to free his clients without ever needing to appear in a courtroom.
When LB ePublished the other eleven stories as Kindle Select titles, he held off on Fandango, to give Subterranean Press's edition of Defender of the Innocent an early lead; for the same reason, he held back Fandango pending its inclusion in the long-delayed collection Buffalo Noir, published by Akashic Books.
Ehrengraf fans and followers have the option of buying the ebook or print edition of Defender of the Innocent, containing all 12 stories, Fandango included. But if you've already read the other eleven stories, and want to buy Fandango by itself—or if you're a Kindle Unlimited subscriber and want to read it for free—now's your chance.
Throughout the Ehrengraf saga, it's been evident to some perceptive readers that the dapper little lawyer lives and works in Buffalo. This is abundantly clear in Fandango. Still, readers are cautioned against assuming any connection between Martin Ehrengraf and a real-life Buffalo criminal defense attorney who was a classmate of LB's at Bennett High School as well as a brother in Upsilon Lambda Phi fraternity. Any similarity is purely coincidental.
The Ehrengraf Fandango was nominated in 2015 for a Shamus Award for Best Private Eye short story. This was a stretch, as Ehrengraf is not a private eye but an attorney. As the story didn't win, we can let it go at that, can't we?
A mighty blurb blurb for what is a 26 page short story, including an afterword from the author.
Ehrengraf is a criminal lawyer, a defender of the innocent and the man who frees his clients without ever setting foot in a court. Our case or cases here involve two women, one found with a gun in her hands in the proximity of three dead bodies, and the other, the mastermind - the women who put her up to it. Allegedly!
I wouldn't say it's Block's best ever work, despite the Shamus nomination but I liked it well enough. There is the trademark humour present, the usual off-page amorous shenanigans on the leather office sofa - a bit of a bonus (in triplicate) for Ehrengraf delivering the two women from the clutches of the law. The third encounter is reward from a grateful ghostwriter who will tell the women's stories and earn a tidy penny, thus ensuring Ehrengraf gets paid for his endeavours. There are a couple of neat resolutions to our client's legal difficulties. It's interesting how Block leads you down the garden path, having you believe in someone's guilt before offering a credible alternative outcome.
It's my first time with Block's Ehrengraf and its clear, albeit subtly inferred in the story and blatantly obvious in the afterword, that our lawyer isn't above getting his hands dirty to ensure his clients walk free. Here the "guilty" party meets an untidy end and Block's form of justice is served.
Not my favourite Block character yet, but once I've read a few more of Ehrengraf's cases I'm sure he will grow on me. I have the compilation edition of all 12 cases - Defender of the Innocent -somewhere on the TBR pile.
4 from 5
Read - May, 2019
Published - 2014
Page count - 26
Source - purchased copy
Format - kindle