Friday, October 19, 2012

Forgotten Books: Frontier Lawyer -- Lawrence L. Blaine

Who the heck is Lawrence L. Blaine?  I can't provide a definitive answer.  One site I looked at credits the book to Robert Silverberg.  Another says it's a collaboration between Silverberg and Eleazar Lipsky.  I tend to believe the latter, since Lipsky was an assistant D.A. in New York and also legal counsel  to the MWA for many years.  Lipsky was a well-known writer in his own right, having had Hollywood success with Kiss of Death (based on his 100-page manuscript) and The People Against O'Hara (based on his novel).  He wrote a number of others, too.

So why this collaboration with Silverberg (if that's what it was)?  And why did it get published in paperback with a generic cover that has nothing to do with the contents?  Good questions, I think, but I have no answers for them.

It's a very entertaining book.  It's a western, a mystery, and a courtroom drama all in one.  A woman is murdered, and, as the cover tells you, "the son of the territory's richest and most powerful man" is accused.  Jake Kilgore, assisted by     Clem Erskine, a young man who's newly arrived in town to serve as Kilgore's clerk is hired.  All the evidence points to the guilt of Kilgore's client, but Kilgore, a man with a big ego, is sure he can avoid a conviction.   There's a lot more going on than Kilgore knows about, however: old secrets, a family that shows there's no fun in dysfunction, powerful forces that align to get a conviction.  And someone's leaking information to the sheriff, each piece of it more damaging than the one before.

My guess would be that the book was intended as the first in a series.  If that's true, however, the series was not to be.  This standalone is worth looking for if you're interested in a western that's a good bit different from most you're likely to find.


Jerry House said...

My understanding also is that this was a Silverberg/Lipsky collaberation.

George said...

FRONTIER LAWYER sounds like a book I need to read. Off to the Internet!

Juri said...

I believe this was finished by Silverbob after Lipsky had died. Should check the dates to be sure. I've talked with Bob about this, but can't locate the exact info.

Marty McKee said...

I bought this for $1. Just read the first 40 pages and am absorbed so far. Granted, it's a pretty standard murder mystery with a tough lawyer, young sidekick, wisecracking secretary, beautiful corpse, uneasy relationship between cop/defense attorney, and a wealthy suspect whose father draws a lotta water in town. Seen it all before, obviously. However, the reason it's a formula is because it works. The big difference, of course, is that it's set in New Mexico in the 1890s. Only 160 pages to go, and I'm interested to see where it leads.

Unknown said...

I agree about the formula aspect, but it definitely works here. And there's more than one formula, which makes it work even better.