• Defender of the Innocent

  • The Casebook of Martin Ehrengraf
  • By: Lawrence Block
  • Narrated by: Don Sobczak
  • Length: 6 hrs and 44 mins
  • 4.3 out of 5 stars (38 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

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 12-course meal of sinister surprises, exquisitely prepared and served simmering hot by the greatest living master of mystery fiction.

©2014 Lawrence Block (P)2014 Lawrence Block

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    4 out of 5 stars
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Guilty as sin

Martin H. Ehrengraf is a smooth motherf**ker. Cunning, too. Devious might be a better word. He's a lawyer after all. If you're in a real jam, he's the man you call. Martin's trick is that he hates going to court. He'd much rather get everything settled before he has to set foot in the halls of justice to defend his client. He's got a flawless record, though. And that comes at a fairly high price.

There are twelve stories in all, eleven of which previously appeared in the pages of Ellery Queen Mystery Magaine. From what little I've read of that mag, it highlights the more clever mysteries as opposed to the more hard-boiled, hard-bitten tales, and this bunch certainly falls into the realm of clever. There is, by virtue of the rather ominous deals struck between Ehrengraf and his clients, that I suspect stood out from the usual fare of that mag.

For many of his clients, it appears on the surface that he hasn't done much lawyering at all to ensure their exoneration. Extenuating circumstances and simple strokes of luck seem to be the order of the day, and that gives some pause in honoring the steep payments demanded of them. And there's one thing you do not do with Ehrengraf and that is renege on an agreement.

Don Sobczak's voice work for the audiobook is really good in capturing that casually sophisticated tone of Ehrengraf that holds an undercurrent of menace. It's just a hint really when he gives his subtle warnings to his clients about the costs of his services and the resoluteness of his approach to keeping them "innocent."

The stories may come off a bit repetitive when digested in one swoop, but bear in mind these were published weeks or months apart originally, and the setting is always the same, so there are some limits to how the story can progress and how multiple stories can be received all at once. But Block fans shouldn't be too troubled by that, and should find that same wry passion for crime fiction, as always.

5 people found this helpful

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Justice is Blind

At last, here's the complete collection of Martin Ehrengraf stories in one delightful audio volume. Author Lawrence Block's peculiar, diminutive lawyer with a passion for poetry and fine living has been a personal favorite for years, and it's a joy to have all his legal adventures gathered together in one place.

Ehrangraf is a defense attorney who charges exorbitant fees for his services, but he's guaranteed to get his clients freed via methods that can only be described as unorthodox. His clients deserve it: after all, they're ALL innocent. Every single time. And if that means evidence needs to be falsified, or certain people need to die, then that's perfectly fine.

The only caveat I can give is that you'll probably want to break up your listening. The stories do have something of a pattern in their structure, and listening to too many in one sitting might verge on repetitive. Treat these as ultra-rich desserts, to be enjoyed sporadically. I listened to 1-2 stories per day, which felt about right, and gave the added benefit of prolonging my time with a fun and quirky character.

Don Sobczak provides able narration, which does justice to both the dialogue and character.

2 people found this helpful

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A Dark look at a Perfect Attorney

Lawrence Block is the winner of multiple awards as a mystery writer and has been writing since the 1950's and has written more than 50 books and Short Stories. Defender of the Innocent is a collection of short stories written about  Martin H. Ehrengraf a dapper little lawyer whose clients all turn out to be innocent. I would love to see this made into a movie starring Danny DeVito.

These stories are fun and creative, although slightly unbelievable that no one would notice how many suspects get off in somewhat the same manner. Besides that one issue the stories are very enjoyable and the audiobook as a whole is a great investment of time and money.
Narrated by Don Sobczak, who brings this dark yet optimistic and sincere attorney to life. All of the different characters are uniquely represented and show the range of this performance artist. Sobczak takes the short stories and makes them seem fluid in space and time. Don increased the level of enjoyment from just reading to a listening experience. This audiobook is a must listen for any darker minded legal thriller fans. 

I received this book as a gift for an honest review.

 

1 person found this helpful

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THE FINEST, FUNNIEST SATIRE

What made the experience of listening to Defender of the Innocent the most enjoyable?

The tongue in cheek humor was so subtle. That made it even funnier.

What was one of the most memorable moments of Defender of the Innocent?

The greatest scenes were the ones where potential clients admit their guilt to the little lawyer yet he persists in his theory that are innocent.

What about Don Sobczak’s performance did you like?

Don Sobvczak did an excellent job with a variety of voices from the gruffest men to soft-spoken women... and always understated.

Who was the most memorable character of Defender of the Innocent and why?

Martin Ehrengraf, of course, is the most memorable character in the stories. Also the crazy young psychopath who killed his parents while using the drug EKG was a close second.

Any additional comments?

Although I've read a few of the stories in the past, I thoroughly enjoyed listening to them along with the ones that had escaped me. Having worked in the legal profession for many years, I found the stories hilarious.

1 person found this helpful

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Well Done

A lawyer who never goes to trial, they maybe innocent or guilty. After contacting him, the price he wants may make them guilty. A different twists and his writing flows. Given audio for my voluntary review

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  • W.Fenlon
  • 06-22-21

Enjoyable but a little repetitive

A collection of twelve stories, that in a way, end up bleeding into one. A lot of things are repeated like the client not wanting to pay the fee because the case didn't go to court, or the way the criminal is talked into thinking they are innocent, but in saying that, it doesn't make this little collection any less enjoyable. It's how the stories are told. It's how they work themselves out. It's good fun.
It's a three stars from me, but a solid 3.
Would love to see one of Martin Ehrengraf's stories turn into a full novel. Would love to learn more about this character.
He reminds me of Saul Goodman.

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  • Steve Roberts
  • 06-03-20

Clever and funny

I’m a big fan of Block’s work and this series of stories demonstrates why. It’s clever and funny an absolute joy.

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  • Martin Gilje Jaatun
  • 05-29-20

Defender of the innocent

A delightful collection from the master storyteller. wonderfully understated, where most of the gory details are left to the reader's imagination.

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  • col2910
  • 05-13-20

Fantastic, as per usual

Another Lawrence Block book enjoyed on Audible during the month of February.

Twelve short stories, each comprising a case for Block's defense attorney Martin Ehrengraf.
I've briefly encountered Ehrenegraf before in The Ehrengraf Fandango last year.

Here for the sake of completists (of which I'm one) we have......
“The Ehrengraf Defense” © 1976
“The Ehrengraf Presumption” © 1978
“The Ehrengraf Experience” © 1978
“The Ehrengraf Appointment” © 1978
“The Ehrengraf Riposte” © 1978
“The Ehrengraf Obligation” © 1979
“The Ehrengraf Alternative” © 1982
“The Ehrengraf Nostrum” © 1984
“The Ehrengraf Affirmation” © 1997
“The Ehrengraf Reverse” © 2002
“The Ehrengraf Settlement” © 2012
“The Ehrengraf Fandango” © 2014
Afterword from the author

Most of these originally appeared as one-off stories in Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine with a few appearances elsewhere, probably around the time of the copyright date.

I really enjoyed the collection and the narration, so much so I re-listened to it again during April.
Block's protagonist is a dapper defense attorney who only defends the innocent and never appears in court. Ehrengraf's clients in each and every case, with the exception of one I think, face murder charges and the evidence against them in always pretty compelling.....

A woman murdered with a fire axe - our client has such an axe and a drug habit which causes blackouts, memory loss and no alibi.

A man shot in his drawing room - our client owns the gun which killed him, was present and has gun shot residue on her fingers.

A girl strangled with a Cadman society tie - our defendant is a member of the Cadman society and had a relationship with the girl.

Ehrengraf outlines his terms, agrees a fee, and then after a suitable interlude he's meeting his client for payment, the charges against them miraculously dropped after new facts come to light...... a copy cat killing or two, a mass poisoning outbreak, a helpful suicide with a note confessing guilt and exhonerating Ehrengraf's client, etc etc.

All our accompanying killings take place off-page and Ehrengraf's involvement is all the more chilling for Block only ever alluding to his man's actions. On a couple of occasions, our lawyer has to explain certain actions which leave our clients in no doubt as to the capabilities of the man and the lengths to which he is prepared to go to achieve the desired outcome. It's usually when the client is rich and has second thoughts as to paying Ehrengraf's fee as from an initial glance his efforts do not appear to have resulted in the charges being dropped. As a reader we know the man's MO. It's fun seeing the realisation dawn on them and the terror on their faces as they appreciate just how dangerous the dapper little man is.

Overall I really liked the collection. Looking back some of the cases are kind of blurred and listening to them one after another they could lose some of their power. Typically the book on both occasions took about three or four days to enjoy, so that wasn't really a problem. There's also plenty of variety in the material - a man of Block's abilities isn't really going to repeat himself 12 times over.

I think my favourites were the opener - The Ehrengraf Defense which introduces the well dressed lawyer and allows us a glimpse of his true nature and another case - name escapes me - which doesn't include murder but some conflict resolution between a disabled house bound troublemaker and his hapless victim.

4.5 from 5

Read - (listened to) February, 2020
Published - 2014
Page count - 237 (6 hrs 44 min)
Source - Audible download code received from author's assistant. (I do have a print copy somewhere)
Format - Audible

https://col2910.blogspot.com/2020/04/lawrence-block-defender-of-innocent-2014.html

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  • Terry
  • 04-27-20

Only one plot

I listened to a large number of these titles because I just couldn't believe that there was only one plot. The basic premise is clever if horrible but, honestly, you can't write stories with the same narrative arc again and again. At least Agatha Christie found a different plot each time.

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  • Kindle Customer
  • 07-29-17

Thoroughly Entertaining

The author keeps digging holes and getting out of them in the most ingenious and entertaining manner. I have never been disappointed by Lawrence Block and the character in this book proved to be no exception.