****Robert outlined the financial challenges faced by private defence counsel taking on complex cases when Legal Aid provides very limited fees. He spoke of the dream of every defence lawyer to find a wealthy defendant ready to spend a million dollars on the defence. While rare such defendants do exist. In The Guilty Plea, Robert was clearly inspired by his landlord, famed Toronto criminal defence lawyer Eddie Greenspan, on how to handle a knife delivered to defence counsel. He could draw on Eddie’s experiences again. Eddie was reported to have been paid $1,100,000 to defend Helmuth Buxbaum 25 years ago. Buxbaum, a nursing home owner, was charged with hiring the murder of his wife. More recently, Conrad Black’s defence team was paid millions as he fought fraud and obstruction charges in U.S. Federal Court. Eddie was also a part of that defence unit. Black was released from prison in the U.S. this weekend having served his sentence.
****Robert lamented that defence counsel, Nancy Parrish, does not listen to him on developing her personal life. He sounds like her father. Maybe it is time for a senior respected member of the criminal defence bar to speak to her about the need for a life that is more than clients and trials.
****On the absence of diagrams Robert set out his conviction that they do not work well and “a novel has to live in the readers mind”. It is a rare current mystery with diagrams comparable to those in The Judas Window by John Dickson Carr writing as Carter Dickson. The diagrams in that book even extended to the cover of the edition I reviewed. Having not seen diagrams in contemporary crime fiction I would be interested in the reaction of readers to diagrams. I hope a current author will take a chance on charting a crime site.
****With regard to creating an ensemble cast Robert set out that “it’s the way I see my world”. For an author who does not know mysteries he creates excellent plots. Based on the rotation of characters in the three books of the series I believe I know who will be the next Crown prosecutor to be the focus of a book.
****Robert forthrightly assured me that he “underplayed the sex lives of Toronto criminal lawyers” and invited me to drive straight to Toronto to share in the fun. I have avoided having my wife read this answer and suggestion. I am declining Robert’s offer.
****Robert indicated he had not included experts for the defence as they “slowed up the drive of the courtroom scenes”. I was surprised by the comment. Both in legal mystery fiction and real life I have found experts at the heart of many cases providing critical evidence. Maybe Robert could add some expert witnesses with as active sex lives as the lawyers.
****On creating tight lipped clients Robert emphasized the mantra provided by every defence counsel to clients - remain silent of voice and refrain from all other forms of communication. As there are few Trappist monks accused of crime I expect defence counsel, in fiction and real life, will have to keep defending clients who cannot learn silence is golden.
****Stray Bullets becomes the 12th book of 13 I have read for the Canadian Book Challenge. I will reach the highest level in the Challenge within a week as I complete Dos Equis by Anthony Bidulka.