There’s never been a lawyer like Martin Ehrengraf. Like Perry Mason, he never loses a case. Well, if memory serves, Perry lost one or two, so that would make Ehrengraf the guy you want. Especially if you are guilty, or all the evidence says you are. Even if you say you are.
The amazing thing about Ehrengraf, as illustrated in Lawrence Block's The Ehrengraf Defense is that he rarely sees the inside of a courtroom. As Martin says, "I don't much care for the whole idea of leaving a man's fate in the hands of 12 people, not one of them clever enough to get out of jury duty."
Additionally, Ehrengraf doesn’t pass his hours poring over dusty legal volumes, or searching the Lexis database. He doesn’t have a photographic memory which would allow him to recall obscure case law in order to help his client. What Ehrengraf is is a criminal lawyer who takes cases on a contingency basis; he collects a fee only when his client goes free. And his client always goes free, because his clients always turn out to be innocent. Ehrengraf’s fees are hefty, but when you consider a lengthy prison sentence, or even capital punishment as the only alternative, well Ehrengraf fee is rather reasonable.
And don’t even think of trying to negotiate or even squirrel out of paying. As the client in the first story does because you’ll find that the same sly devilish logical process Martin Ehrengraf brings to the table in your defense, he also applies to his bill collecting.
The author has this to say, in the forward to the collection, about the amazingly amoral little lawyer in the spiffy suits with the elegant manner;
“When I finished writing The Ehrengraf Defense in 1976, I knew I had found a character I’d like to revisit. But it was Fredric Dannay’s immediate enthusiasm for Ehrengraf that made me write one story after another about the diminutive attorney. Fred, of course, was one of a pair of cousins who wrote Ellery Queen mysteries, and it was Fred who edited Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine, and he snapped up the stories as quickly as I wrote them."