About Me

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Melfort, Saskatchewan, Canada
I am a lawyer in Melfort, Saskatchewan, Canada who enjoys reading, especially mysteries. Since 2000 I have been writing personal book reviews. This blog includes my reviews, information on and interviews with authors and descriptions of mystery bookstores I have visited. I strive to review all Saskatchewan mysteries. Other Canadian mysteries are listed under the Rest of Canada. As a lawyer I am always interested in legal mysteries. I have a separate page for legal mysteries. Occasionally my reviews of legal mysteries comment on the legal reality of the mystery. You can follow the progression of my favourite authors with up to 15 reviews. Each year I select my favourites in "Bill's Best of ----". As well as current reviews I am posting reviews from 2000 to 2011. Below my most recent couple of posts are the posts of Saskatchewan mysteries I have reviewed alphabetically by author. If you only want a sentence or two description of the book and my recommendation when deciding whether to read the book look at the bold portion of the review. If you would like to email me the link to my email is on the profile page.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Questions and Answers with Robert Rotenberg (Stray Bullets)

1.) I was glad money as an issue for defence counsel was discussed including the shamefully inadequate funding for legal aid defence counsel.
Thanks. I remember you asking me about this before. A few years ago I was asked to do a murder trial. But, being busy with writing books, I had my two associates do it. They spent an amazing amount of time haggling with Legal Aid over the pittance of fees they received as the rest of their practices went downhill, as their lives got consumed by the case. Sound familiar? (P.S. They did a great job...so if you ever kill anyone, or allegedly kill anyone...)

Are you thinking of a rich defendant for a future book so Nancy can scramble less for money and have a personal life? I think a million dollar defence fee would get reader attention.

I think of a rich defendant and doing a million dollar defence every day, every phone call, every email. If one comes in, I'll make sure it is NOT fictional.

As for Nancy's personal life. I do worry about  her. We talk about it a lot. But do you think she listens to me?

2.) Did you ever consider using diagrams for the book with regard to the parking lot and store where the shooting took place? In many older works of older crime fiction there are diagrams. I find they highlight what is used by police and lawyers to assess evidence and are fictional demonstrative evidence.

I did, but in the end am glad I didn't. I spent hundreds of hours writing the first few chapters of the book. And I felt that if I needed a map, I'd failed. As well, I find books with maps and diagrams etc, I don't know. It never works for me.

A novel has to live in the readers mind.

I often ask people at book clubs what a character looks like...I love for example how women will describe Ari Greene in vivid detail, then argue with each other that their vision of him is the right one.

3.) Did you intend to create an ensemble cast of characters when you started writing the series?

Just happened. It's the way I see my world. I didn't really know anything about mysteries and still think this whole "genre category" business is ridiculous. Hamlet is my favourite mystery...kind of an ensemble cast there too.

I'm glad I have all these people to move around the sandbox.

4.) Does the real life Toronto criminal bar have such extensive and complex sex lives as your characters? In Saskatchewan criminal lawyers have much quieter sex lives.

In fact, I've radically underplayed the sex lives of Toronto criminal lawyers. They have way more sex and it’s much more complicated and extensive than in my books. So I suggest that you pack up your office today and drive straight to T.O. Within a week you too could join the fun.

5.) Was there a reason Nancy had no experts lined up for the defence? I would have thought she would have pursued opinions from some experts on what the forensic evidence demonstrated.

A very good reason. Scott Fitzgerald said a writer has to kill his babies. I wrote many chapters with expert witnesses in them. All are dead and gone. In the end they slowed up the drive of the courtroom scenes, which are the heart of the story. (You'll note I refer to one expert in passing...but that's about all).

6.) Are you developing a tradition of tight lipped clients for your accused? In Old City Hall the accused will only communicate in writing and in this book Larkin will not testify. Of course, with some clients silence is a blessing.

Every good defence lawyer wishes his client would never speak, text, email, Facebook, Tweet or even look at anyone.

In STRAY BULLETS, the defendant Larkin is a real chatterbox, and Nancy Parish's challenge is to shut him up...so she can get on to her next million dollar client and extensive and complex sex life.


  1. Bill - Thanks for such a terrific interview! It's fascinating to learn what goes on behind the scenes when an author draws from experience the way Rotenberg does. I really like the sense of humour, too. You'll have to let us know if you decide to move to Toronto...

  2. yes, a very interesting interview, thank you. In the UK (actually, England/Wales which has a separate legal system from Scotland and Ireland) they are trying to cut back even more on legal aid - such a pity in cases where it is deserved (I am sure there are a few people who abuse the system by trivial cases, but the vast majority don't).

  3. Margot: Thanks for the comment. It is best not to ask Robert a question unless you are ready for a candid answer. In Saturday's post you can read my decision on whether I am moving to T.O.

  4. Maxine: Thanks for the comment. I am afraid governments are forcing people without the money facing charges without likely going to jail to hire lawyers to depend on volunteer lawyers to defend them. My younger son, who has just finished first year in law in Calgary, told me that many such accused in that city have the choice of no lawyer or a first year law student to represent them.