The Criminal Defense Lawyer. Redefined.
Martin H. Ehrengraf, dapper and diabolical, may be Lawrence Block’s darkest creation. He’s the defense attorney who never sees the inside of a courtroom, because all his clients are innocent–no matter how guilty they may seem. Some even believe themselves to be guilty: they remember pulling the trigger, or wiring the dynamite to their spouse’s car, or holding the bloody blade. But things have a way of working out when Martin Ehrengraf is on the case. Evidence turns up, incriminating someone else. More murders occur, with the same M.O. And the gate of the jail cell opens, and the accused walks free.
But be careful–hiring Martin Ehrengraf comes with a price. A high price, one that comes due even if he appears to have done nothing on your behalf. And you’d better be prepared to pay…
Here at last are the complete exploits of Martin Ehrengraf: a dozen delicious tales of vice and villainy including one–”The Ehrengraf Fandango”–that is appearing for the first time anywhere. It’s a twelve-course meal of sinister surprises, exquisitely prepared and served simmering hot by the greatest living master of mystery fiction.
Says Publishers Weekly: “The clients of Mephistophelean DA Martin Ehrengraf are always innocent, even when they recall committing murder, as shown in this collection of 12 dark, twisted tales from MWA Grand Master Block (Catch and Release). The urbane lawyer charges only if clients are exonerated—and they always are, though his hand is seldom seen. Apparent crimes of passion prove to be serial killings in “The Ehrengraf Defense,” which introduces the tie he wears to celebrate victories. Clients who try to renege on payment discover he’s a dangerous ally whose sinister ingenuity works as effectively against as for them, as miserly Millard Ravenstock learns in “The Ehrengraf Settlement.” In “The Ehrengraf Obligation,” the attorney represents penniless poet William Telliford, whose work he admires, but when freedom diminishes William’s creative output, the poet finds himself back in prison for murder. While Ehrengraf initially seems amoral, he follows his own code, far from socially sanctioned mores but sacred to him. Sophisticated, surprising, charming, and relentless, he’s a compelling antihero.”
And Thomas Gaughan in Booklist adds: “Block’s stellar career has given crime lovers a number of different protagonists: honor-bound PI Matt Scudder, gentleman thief Bernie Rhodenbarr, and Keller, the stamp-collecting hit man, to name just three. Defense attorney Martin Ehrengraf, though less known, is notably darker than Block’s other main characters. Ehrengraf represents people in deep trouble with the law and facing damning evidence against them. He works on a contingency basis: his fee is earned only if his client is freed from jail. His fees are exorbitant and he rarely appears in court, but, somehow, when Ehrengraf takes a case, new evidence appears that exonerates his client. All but one of these 12 stories appeared in magazines, beginning in the late 1970s. Ehrengraf is the star of each, a dandy who oozes self-regard, a charming sociopath who will murder to free his client and collect his fee. He never really cops to his methods, except to icily hint at them should a client balk at paying.”