William Lashner's Falls the Shadow

Falls the Shadow is author William Lashner’s newest novel, released in hardcover by William Morrow. This is the latest in an excellent series featuring Philadelphia lawyer, Victor Carl. This Friday’s Review will take a look at Lashner’s books, including Past Due which is now available in paperback (see Kevin’s review here).

Lashner fans waited six years between the release of Bitter Truth and Fatal Flaw, an interregnum that caused the author to be forgotten in the parlance of the publishing world. His first two novels were published by Regan Books, an imprint not known for thrillers. Other than Jess Walter, I can’t think of another thriller writer under the Regan banner. Morrow and Regan are both owned by Harper Collins, so for Bill Lashner all’s well that ends well.

The series protagonist is Victor Carl, self-described as self-absorbed, self-serving and selfish. Burdened by these humble traits, Victor becomes likable by circumstance, and by contrast to the collection of unpleasant types Victor meets along the way. Lashner takes his time with his stories developing Victor’s flaws and impulses into rich characterization. The plots are complex; Past Due involves a crime twenty years in the past coming full circle to the present. Victor’s father is dying and tells a remarkable story from his youth about the woman who got away. Lashner makes good use of the first person narrative, offsetting Victor’s seedy world with enough interior monologue to both propel the plot and evolve the character. Don’t worry, Victor isn’t going to arc his way out of the sleaze, but he is going to ruminate on the effects of greed, corruption, and moral turpitude that sustain his practice.

Philly’s mean streets, long history, and leafy Main Line offer plenty of the ingredients for classic noir. Lashner puts us there without going overboard, always maintaining a certain ironic affection for the town. We see the world through Victor’s bloodshot eyes. It’s dark, murky, always surprising. Six years is too long to wait for the next one.