“Lawyers spend a great deal of time shoveling smoke.” — Oliver Wendell Holmes
“The true culprit in my tale is the legal justice system. It
holds itself up as something to be admired and then proceeds to
render itself useless because it is so easily undone. All it takes is
something that any human being can speak: a lie.” — Samuel Razor, in “Razor’s Revenge”
When Samuel Razor is a young man, his promising company is stolen by three unscrupulous and corrupt men, judge Henry Craymoor, attorney Jarod Hibbard, and businessman Mark Harrington. They succeed by shoveling smoke.
Razor’s experience teaches him a powerful truth: the courts cannot protect the innocent from a well-crafted lie. As Razor plots his revenge against Craymoor, Hibbard and Harrington, this truth will serve as a mantra and a constant.
Paul Chandler’s (Peeper, 2004) thought-provoking novel Razor’s Revenge first tells the stories of the three conspirators and their desperate attempts to escape the retribution planned for them by Samuel Razor.
Time passes. Razor ages. We don’t see him directly, but through the eyes of Craymoor, Hibbard and Harrington, we understand that he is patient, relentless, thorough and richer than those who knew him way back when can possibly imagine. As Craymoor, Hibbard and Harrington see it, that vast wealth allows Razor cut their lives apart well past the limits of an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.
But these men are small fish. The trophy Razor seeks is the criminal justice system itself where truth often falls on deaf ears while lawyers shovel smoke. As he ages and becomes infirm, Razor has one last dream in mind: he longs for the day when he can destroy the smoke and mirrors arguments and defenses common in our courtrooms with more truth than anyone can possibly imagine–or even want.
His dream depends on technology yet to be invented, so he hires people to research it, invent it, and test it well beyond the limitations of a preponderance of the evidence and reasonable doubt. If Razor’s researchers succeed, Razor’s revenge will be complete. The novel spends a fair amount of time on technology and testing, and some readers may find the lab work and marketing implications a bit heavy going.
Paul Chandler has, however, created an amazing paradox of a novel in which it becomes conflicting to dislike such men as Craymoor, Hibbard and Harrington as they consider punishments that exceed their crimes; and where it becomes very troubling to root for a wronged man who has yet to learn that revenge cuts both ways and might not lead to justice.
En route to the final verdict in Razor’s Revenge, readers who cheer Razor at the beginning will have ample opportunity to question whether absolute and merciless truth in a courtroom represents the best of all possible worlds or represents a dark victory.
Malcolm R. Campbell is the author of three novels, including Garden of Heaven: an Odyssey