Wednesday, January 2, 2019

"First, Kill the Lawyers"

David Housewright is the Edgar Award and three-time Minnesota Book Award-winning author of the Rushmore McKenzie and Holland Taylor novels as well as other tales of murder and mayhem in the Midwest.

He applied the Page 69 Test to his new novel, First, Kill the Lawyers, and reported the following:
From page 69:
Kaushal left the office. I stood and waited. A minute later, he returned. Behind him was a tall, good-looking middle-aged man with sunglasses perched on top of his head and a smile that suggested he knew exactly which scotch to order in a high-class saloon.

“Clark Peterson,” Kaushal said, “This is Taylor.”

Peterson offered his hand and I shook it even as my own brain screamed “Are you fucking kidding me?”

“Taylor,” he said. “John-Boy told me about you. You’re trying to help us with our little problem. I hope you can. There’s a possibility I could lose a lot of money because of this.”

“In what way?”

“Dawn’s family filed a wrongful death suit against me in civil court. The estate has been frozen until this matter is dealt with. If the jury finds against me, I’ll lose all the money I inherited when she died. A tidy sum, if I do say so myself.”

I pivoted toward Kaushal.

“Are you defending him?” I asked.

He shook his head.

“He can’t,” Kaushal said. “Isn’t that right, John? See, they couldn’t make me take the stand in my criminal case. In the civil case, though, I’ll be deposed and called to testify whether I like it or not. When I swear that I didn’t have anything to do with the disappearance of my wife, I’ll be lying. As an attorney sworn to uphold the law, John-Boy can’t be part of that. He’d be suborning perjury. Isn’t that right? So I had to hire a different attorney to rep me, one that doesn’t know that I -”

“Clark,” Kaushal said.

“I thought you said that anything I tell Taylor in your office is protected by attorney-client privilege.”

“He doesn’t need to know everything.”

You got that right, I told myself.
Page 69 gets to the heart of what First Kill the Lawyers is all about – the conflict between professional ethics and simple morality. For example, someone confesses that he murdered his wife and hid her body. Your brain will scream at you to tell someone, tell the police, tell the prosecutor, tell the victim’s family and help relieve their suffering. It would be your duty as a moral human being. But a lawyer sworn to adhere to the rules of attorney-client privilege?
Learn more about the book and author at David Housewright's website and Facebook page.

--Marshal Zeringue