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The Ehrengraf Nostrum is the eighth of ten stories about the determined and resourceful attorney, Martin H. Ehrengraf.

Ehrengraf’s cases, while refashioned by the perverse imagination of his biographer, sometimes draw their inspiration from the real world. Such is clearly the case in the present instance, and readers with good memories will surely recall the rash of pointless deaths that have burdened us to this day with containers of patent medicine that only a child can open.

But I digress...

A walk on the wild side! In this series of collections of gritty Noir and Hardboiled stories, you’ll find some of the best writers of the craft writing in their prime.

The Ehrengraf Alternative is the seventh of ten stories about the little lawyer whose resourcefulness on behalf of an innocent client is unparalleled.

It seems to me that a couple of real-life cases inspired this story, but I find I can’t call them to mind; the story seems to have outlived its inspiration. Ehrengraf would probably quote Hippocrates. “Ars longa, vita brevis,” he would remark, smiling his little smile.

This is the sixth story about Martin H. Ehrengraf, diminutive attorney who represents criminal defendants on a contingency basis. In earlier appearances, the little lawyer has quoted William Blake, Winthrop Mackworth Praed, Thomas Hood, and Andrew Marvell, so it’s clear that he sees poetry as a sacred calling.

However vile the crime, however damning the evidence, Ehrengraf knows with utter certainty that young William Telliford is innocent. And nothing can keep him from establishing that innocence beyond dispute.

Then again, circumstances alter cases, don’t they?

Genre: Humor

You think you’ve got problems?

Well, how would you like to get a letter from your ex-wife’s lawyer threatening a lawsuit over a measly few months’ alimony? And then be fired from your job as editor of Ronald Rabbit’s Magazine for Boys and Girls simply because the magazine had ceased publication six month ago? And then go home to find your wife has run off with your best friend — and your bank account? And that you are being evicted from your apartment?

What do you do then, when you are left with nothing but your lurid memories, your itchy libido and an unemployed typewriter?

If you are Laurence Clarke, our trepid hero and the world’s most cunning linguist, you immediately plunge into not one but seven simultaneous and overlapping love affairs that would boggle a satyr. And you set into motion the most outrageous, insanely complicated and deviously horny series of interlocking plots and counterplots since Machiavelli began his nursery school.

How did these maniacal manipulations bring together the erstwhile publisher of Ronald Rabbit’s his depraved but virginal secretary, six little schoolgirls who should have had Polly Adler for a housemother, two ex-wives who were usually too prone to argue, one landlord, two law firms, various bystanders, and a partridge in a pear tree?

You’ll have to read the incredible letters of Laurence Clarke to find out, but we will admit to one thing:

We lied about the partridge.

In the depths of her blue eyes, he glimpsed... murder.

Cashed out from the NYPD after 24 years, Doak Miller operates as a private eye in steamy small-town Florida, doing jobs for the local police. Like posing as a hit man and wearing a wire to incriminate a local wife who’s looking to get rid of her husband. But when he sees the wife, when he looks into her deep blue eyes...

He falls — and falls hard. Soon he’s working with her, against his employer, plotting a devious plan that could get her free from her husband and put millions in her bank account. But can they do it without landing in jail? And once heХs kindled his taste for killing... will he be able to stop at one?

This time it started with a call girl.

She came running to Eddie Manso scared stiff. A bad scene with some sadistic hood. The guy had told the girl he was a rich banker. That's what interested Eddie. The guy had said he owned the banks.

A hood who owned

Eddie called the colonel and the colonel called the others...

There were six of them. Specialists. Ex-soldiers, each with a unique talent. There game was getting to a special kind of vermin, the kind that preyed on innocents... the kind the law never seemed to be able to grab.

There was always trouble, but this one was going to be really rough. The "banker" was no ordinary hood.

This, the fifth story about Martin H. Ehrengraf, presents the criminous criminal lawyer with a different sort of problem. He’s engaged to defend a man who anticipates being charged with homicide. But no one has been murdered.

Yet.

In the beleaguered but resourceful Ethan Crowe, Ehrengraf has a client who sees the wisdom of hedging his bets before he places them. In Terence Reginald Mayhew, the little lawyer has an adversary with the terrifying power of madness housed in the body of a housebound cripple.

Ehrengraf, a great fan of poetry, has cited William Blake and Winthrop Mackworth Praed in earlier stories; in he finds the opportunity to quote two of his favorites, Christopher Smart and Thomas Hood.

For years, readers have turned to Lawrence Block’s novels for mesmerizing entertainment. And for years. writers have turned to Block’s for candid, conversational, practical advice on how to put a publishable novel on paper.

Now that you’ve discovered it, you, too, will find this to be the guide for the working novelist. Filled with Block’s experiences and much that he’s learned from others, the look helps you:

• identify the type of novel you’re to write

• invite plot ideas to bubble up from your subconscious

• develop characters who act, feel and speak like real people

• use what you know and learn what you must

• snare readers from the start

• keep writing

• develop your style

• market your work in a professional manner

Bead what Lawrence Block has to say. Then write what you have to write. Your novel.

In its brief existence, THE BEST AMERICAN MYSTERY STORIES has established itself as a peerless suspense anthology. Compiled by the best-selling mystery novelist Ed McBain, this year’s edition boasts nineteen outstanding tales by such masters as John Updike, Lawrence Block, Jeffery Deaver, and Joyce Carol Oates as well as stories by rising stars such as Edgar Award winners Tom Franklin and Thomas H. Cook. The 1999 volume is a spectacular showcase for the high quality and broad diversity of the year’s finest suspense, crime, and mystery writing.

Genre: Prose

Dolly, as you’ll see, is a person who finds it hard to let go of those things she holds dear...

New York’s a tough town. Hard to impress. Shrugs off hype, casts a cold eye on glitz. But once in a blue moon a killer with street smarts and a sense of theater will reach out and take the city by the throat. Maybe he’ll write letters to a popular tabloid columnist, proclaiming himself the answer to a failed criminal justice system. Maybe he’ll point a finger at the kind of villain the law can’t touch. A child killer who got off on a technicality, say. A top mobster with decades of blood on his hands. A rabble-rouser who incites others to murder. Maybe he’ll sign himself “Will,” as in “The Will of the People.” Then suppose he takes aim at a respectable lawyer, a defense attorney with a roster of unpopular clients. Suppose the lawyer’s a friend of Matt Scudder. Scudder is New York to the bone. He’s as tough as the big town itself, as hard to impress. And now he’s up against the self-styled Will of the People in a city with eight million ways to die, a city where not just the good guys but even the wicked get worse than they deserve.

When I finished writing in 1976, I knew I had found a character I’d like to revisit. But it was Frederic Dannay’s immediate enthusiasm for Ehrengraf that made me write one story after another about the diminutive attorney. Fred, of course, was one of the pair of cousins who wrote the Ellery Queen mysteries, and it was Fred who edited , and he snapped up the stories as quickly as I wrote them.

Ehrengraf’s debut grew out of a plot device; in the course of my writing the story, Martin Ehrengraf came into being. In his second appearance, we see him more fully realized, tailoring his approach to the case to suit circumstances, and altering them to his purposes.

“The Ehrengraf Presumption. Any client of Martin H. Ehrengraf is presumed by Ehrengraf to be innocent, which presumption is invariably confirmed in due course, the preconceptions of the client himself notwithstanding.”

Words to live by...

Genre: Non-fiction

From the revered bestselling author comes a touching, insightful, and humorous memoir of an unlikely racewalker and world traveler.

Martin Ehrengraf, the criminal defense attorney who takes cases on a contingency basis, made his debut in 1978; by 2003 he’d successfully demonstrated the innocence of ten clients. Now he’s back for the first time in almost a decade, in The Ehrengraf Settlement.

A pillar of the community, a rich man with a trophy wife, exceeds his authority as a leader of the local Vigilance Commission and shoots a man down on a neighbor’s lawn. Ehrengraf, convinced of his client’s innocence, works his subtle magic, and charges are dropped. But the client makes a fatal mistake: he pays Ehrengraf only a tenth of the agreed-upon fee.

And Ehrengraf realizes that he himself has made a tragic mistake. The client he presumed innocent must have been guilty all along...

This is the third story about Martin H. Ehrengraf, the diminutive defense attorney who rarely sees the inside of a courtroom. In the preceding story, , he spells out his core principle thus:

“The Ehrengraf Presumption. Any client of Martin H. Ehrengraf is presumed by Ehrengraf to be innocent, which presumption is invariably confirmed in due course, the preconceptions of the client himself notwithstanding.”

In his first two appearances, Ehrengraf would certainly appear to have been saddled with clients who in fact committed the crimes of which they stood accused. But in Grantham Beale, the little lawyer is cursed with a genuinely innocent client, innocent not only of the murder for which he has been convicted but hopelessly innocent in the ways of the world.

It’s a challenge for Ehrengraf, and one to which he rises with zeal and dispatch.

The devilish Chip Harrison — young, broke, and girlless — stumbles on a discarded bus ticket and finds himself in South Carolina, where he becomes the local sheriff's protege and falls in love with a preacher's daughter.

Genre: Prose

“A Chance to Get Even” is a story about a poker game. A friendly game-or at least that's how it starts out. I played in a friendly game for years, and still take a hand now and then, but the evenings I spent at the card table never turned out like this.

And that's probably just as well.

Genre: Prose

“Who Knows Where It Goes” is an uncollected short story that appeared in Ellery Queen in January 2010. It was inspired, of course, by the cratering of the world economy two years earlier. It's a story of hard times, and how a resourceful man can adapt to them. It's a story, too, about how such a man might explore his own capabilities, and find out if what he once did is something he still can do.

Lawrence Block's novels win awards, grace bestseller lists, and get made into films. His short fiction is every bit as outstanding, and this complete collection of his short stories establishes the extraordinary skill, power, and versatility of this contemporary Grand Master.

Block's beloved series characters are on hand, including ex-cop Matt Scudder, bookselling burglar Bernie Rhodenbarr, and the disarming duo of Chip Harrison and Leo Haig. Here, too, are Keller, the wistful hit man, and the natty attorney Martin Ehrengraf, who takes criminal cases on a contingency basis and whose clients always turn out to be innocent.

Keeping them company are dozens of other refugees from Block's dazzling imagination — all caught up in more ingenious plots than you can shake a blunt instrument at.

Half a dozen of Block's stories have been shortlisted for the Edgar Award, and three have won it outright. Other stories have been read aloud on BBC Radio, dramatized on American and British television, and adapted for the stage and screen. All the tales in Block's three previous collections are here, along with two dozen new stories. Some will keep you on the edge of the chair. Others will make you roll on the floor laughing. And more than a few of them will give you something to think about. is an essential volume for Lawrence Block fans, and a dazzling introduction for others to the wonderful world of... Block magic!

Even before he invented Matthew Scudder and Bernie Rhodenbarr, Block was writing terrific thrillers such as this.

Johnny Hayden and his partner had the perfect scam selling worthless Canadian land to marks. The scam just has to work, because at stake is Evvie — the girl with the long green heart.

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