In Extremis by V.V. Drummond - In my last post I started a review of In Extremis. This post contains the remainder of the review. Here is a link to the first post - In Extremis Started.
Among the judge’s documents is a box titled Mandamus. Morgan tells the judge’s widow it relates to a legal charity - a clear legal fiction to any lawyer. The group’s letterhead depicts the classic Justitia (Lady of Justice) but without a blindfold and bears the phrase Mihi Vindictam (Vengeance is Mine).
Mandamus is one of the prerogative writs of English law that were used in Canadian law when I was a young lawyer. An application for mandamus is for an order to command government or an agency of government to carry out the provisions of a law not being enforced.
The surviving members of Mandamus subsequently meet to discuss their actions and the future of the group:
“We, more than others, are aware that horrible crimes and devious
criminals are going unpunished because of flaws in a system we have
devoted our lives to maintaining. To the extent we have been able to, we
have stepped forward to try to arrest that trend. We have, to paraphrase
Dumas, asked the God of vengeance to yield us His place to punish the
“In doing right, are we morally justified in doing wrong? And lastly, are
we doing enough, or are we trying to do too much?”
I have never encountered fictional vigilante lawyers. They made me very uncomfortable.
The book has two stories uneasily connected. There is the detailed steamy erotic story of an older woman and younger man exploring a relationship. At the same time there are the actions of the vigilante lawyers.
There is a common theme of betrayal. Her adultery breaks the oaths of her marriage vows. The vigilante actions of the lawyers breach the rules of conduct for lawyers. I did not find the respective plots worked well together. It would have been better had there been two books.
The vigilante lawyers are more troubling to me than other vigilantes because of their positions within the justice system. Still the concept of vengeful lawyers is a clever plot line that could have made a distinctive and memorable book. As set out above it does not fit with the story of the lusty lovers. Yet In Extremis is a challenging book for it is not simplistic sexploitation.
As the end of the book approaches the police are introduced. It is late in the plot. Their involvement early on would have been intriguing.
The sophisticated vigilante plot line descends to predictability at the end of the book. So much more was possible on this plot line. At the same time in the other plot line there is a genuine surprise at the end with regard to the affair.
Is there a subgenre of erotic suspense? In Extremis is hardly romantic suspense. On which plot line lay the emphasis of the book I note the publisher of In Extremis is eXtasy Books Inc.