Victor Carl, Philly defense lawyer, sidles back onstage in Lashner’s latest legal melodrama.
It seems like an open-and-shut case. Here’s lawyer Guy Forrest, sitting outside his house in the Philly suburbs, naked, in the rain, his gun beside him; upstairs on the mattress lies his lover/fiancée, Hailey Prouix, dead by gunshot. A crime of passion, surely? That’s what Victor thinks, discounting Guy’s denials, and Victor should know: not only is he Guy’s close friend (they were at law school together), but he himself had been sleeping with Hailey, a femme fatale who had both men bewitched. Indeed, Guy had left his wife and family to live with her. When Guy is arrested, Victor represents him, vowing to himself to put him away. But the discovery that Guy and Hailey’s joint account has been cleaned out complicates matters. The key is a medical malpractice suit with Hailey and Guy on opposite sides: Hailey had seduced Guy in order to win massive damages for her client, and Guy’s naïveté convinces Victor that his old friend is innocent. Now the hunt is on for the real killer, and the long winding trail takes Victor to a nursing home outside Las Vegas, and then to the West Virginia town where Hailey was raised (and her high school sweetheart possibly murdered). Along the way, before the eventual courtroom theatrics, we’ll learn the Dark Secret that crippled Hailey and sent her twin sister into an asylum, a secret shamelessly embellished by Lashner’s use of Stephen Hawking and Sylvia Plath as props. Other trademark over-the-top flourishes include a knife-wielding lesbian in a dark alley and a hit man who has torn his skin to tatters in self-loathing.
It’s the tallest of tall tales, of course, but it’s got robust drive, and Lashner (Veritas, 1997, etc.) deserves a tip of the hat for Guy’s Houdini-like escape from that opening set-up.