600 THE ADVOCATE
VOL. 76 PART 4 JULY 2018
Although the book is well over 300 pages long, the author wastes no ink
on unnecessary literary diversions. The sparse style is something between
Hemingway and Raymond Chandler. The chapters are short; one is only a
page and a third long. This adds to the tension the author relentlessly builds
up as the plot progresses.
The characters are developed well, though the author has a tendency to
tell rather than show, a habit that is frowned upon by those who know about
The heroine, who tells the tale, is Jilly Truitt, a successful criminal
defence lawyer in her early 30s. She has a murky background. Abandoned
by her parents as a baby, she is brought up in a succession of unsatisfactory
foster homes and teeters on the brink of an east side street life. She is
weaned from this impending disaster by a social worker, Edith Hole, who
warns her not to take the Trussardi case, though she does not explain why;
we find out later. Ultimately, she finds peace with her last foster parents to
whom she remains emotionally attached.
The book opens in jail as she interviews one Vincent Trussardi, whom
she is retained to defend. He is a prosperous Vancouver businessman
charged with the murder of his wife, who was shot in her bed with
Trussardi’s own gun, which he kept in a safe at his home in West Vancouver.
The case looks hopeless, as there is no evidence that anyone but Trussardi
committed this crime. As Truitt observes to him, “Our job is not to decide
whether you’re innocent or guilty—it’s to give you the best defence we can.”
The book is laced with observations we all recognize as wise advice for
counsel: “Don’t get close to the client—rule number four of criminal practice.”
On jury practice: “Ninety percent of the job is getting the sympathy of
the jury—convincing them they want to find for your client. Ten percent is
showing them how.”
Truitt tells us about a murder case she is defending. A young addict has
shot a threatening dealer, in self-defence. But five bullets in broad daylight?
The author composes a really crafty address to the jury by Truitt, which
results in an acquittal. This annoys Cy Kenge, Crown counsel, a big, bulky
man with an artificial leg and an overbearing disposition. The accused,
Damon Cheskey, features prominently later in the story. Cy Kenge is prosecuting
the Trussardi case.
Truitt keeps doing things you know she ought not to. The reader mentally
clenches fists and shouts, “No, no, don’t do that!” Truitt thinks Cheskey
has straightened out his life, but one day she notices him buying drugs on
Hastings Street. She parks her car and follows him into a seedy hotel. You
just know this is not going to end well.