The title foretells the plot, which is scary for me since I am an active lawyer. Even worse the killer is targeting criminal defence counsel which is part of my practice. How could Deverell turn on his own? He was a defence lawyer for much of his legal career.
Early in the book Arthur Besterman, described as dogged but not gifted, unexpectedly wins a murder trial when O.D. Milsom’s confession that he killed three women is ruled inadmissible. He had been apprehended by a group of patrolling citizens, the White Berets, who threatened him with emasculation if he did not confess to the crimes.
Besterman, celebrating the victory, is found bludgeoned to death, probably by a baseball bat.
The firm of Pomeroy, Macarthur, Brovak and Sage barely lament their colleague’s passing as they are far too absorbed in their professional and personal crises. My next post will discuss the wild characters that make up the firm.
Brian Pomeroy flees to Costa Rico after an embarrassing incident with a lover becomes public. While there he communicates with Vancouver by letter.
Having always dreamed of writing a great mystery he sets out to actually write a legal mystery with the aid of the directions in Mr. Widgeon's book on how to plot a mystery. Thus within the mystery is a mystery being developed. Pomeroy’s heavy drinking in the tropics seems to spur his muse.
In florid prose Pomeroy explains:
But you want to hear how the novel progesses. Well, the ghostwriter within is still calling the shots. I often feel like a spider enmeshed in his own web, struggling, then submitting to the demon inside, who guides his amanuensis’s hapless hands across the keyboard.
Back in Vancouver the firm is lurching forward.
Articling student, Wentworth Chance, cycles madly about the city delivering documents and picking up documents and searching documents all the while looking for any woman interested in meeting a new graduate from law school.
With Pomeroy in Costa Rico his wife, Caroline, departs for Vancouver Island to join protesters against clear cut logging. Chance is left to feed the owls in the Pomeroy backyard. The big horned owl is called Howland.
At a supper for the bar a box is delivered containing a grenade. Brovak’s swift reaction avoids multiple deaths.
The next morning a letter arrives at the Vancouver Province newspaper containing a message in cut out letters from the paper. It reads:
“Counsellors of crime, Beware the Sword of Justice. Criminal lawyers are marked for DEATH by the Executor of God.”
Below the message “Besterman” is Xed out. “Pomeroy” and “Brovak” are also named.
It closes with a page from the New Testament:
“The Pharisees and lawyers rejected the counsel of
The signature line contains the name “The Executor”.
A killer called “The Executor”. Why is the word for the administrator of a will, executor, used instead of executioner? Can it be a killer lacking language skills or is it some sophisticated sociopath playing word games? All are puzzled.
Fear roams the courts of Vancouver.
Suspects abound. It appears there are many with grievances against the Vancouver criminal defence bar.
Brovak suspects a RCMP officer obsessed with the Monster.
While many other cases are adjourned the Monster continues its grind through the court.
At Pomeroy, Macarthur, Brovak and Sage the lives of the lawyers continue at a frenetic pace despite the danger of the Executor.
Kill All the Lawyers proceeds swiftly filled with clever language and comic situations. I would never have dreamed a book about killing lawyers could be so funny.
Kill All the Lawyers is the 11th book of 13 I have read in the 7th Annual Canadian Book Challenge hosted at the Book Mine Set blog.