...nothing here is promised, not one day... Lin-Manuel Miranda

Books and stoppers
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I know that I must have a shorter fuse than most people. Less tolerance, more willingness to give up on things that aren’t working. I hope, at least, that much of that has to do with the whole disability that makes the world really tough to deal with at times. Being judgmental is, at times, a good and useful tool, but I know it pops up too often. But I just don’t have patience with things that SO many other people do.

I’ve got lots of books to read but this ARC readily came to hand when I was looking for something to read. A pretty straightfoarward mystery? Just right. It’s a second book by an author whose first book got lots of attention; more, I thought, than it merited, but still, it WAS a good book and book two? Sure, why not?

[Major segue here – anyone beside me and Stu love Pat Paulsen? You have to be of a certain age and culture to know the guy. He was a regular on “The Smothers Brothers” and was one of the most hysterically funny men I remember of those times. He had the world’s most amazing deadpan delivery. And he used it while delivery “editorials” worded with complete baffling doubletalk. Never cracked.

There were lots of things to like about the guy but what I was just channeling was when at one point he decided to run for president. Actually, this was his, I think, SECOND run for president. ( I have toe book from his first run.) And btw, he came in second in the New Hampshire Democratic Primary in 1996 with according to one website 921 votes to Bill Clinton’s 76,754 votes.)

Segue FROM the segue – of course I just stopped and googled Pat Paulsen and found the “PP for President Official Website and Archives) at DO go. The header reads “Patrick L. Paulsen: Common, ordinary simple savior of America’s destiny”. How can you NOT vote for him? Just read the bio. Snort. And go to editorials and read one. They’re better on video but even in text, they’re brilliant.

So at some point, he’s on tv talking about running again and says all he needs is a sign, and he’ll consider it as a statement that he’s needed to run again for president. And he continues talking as slowly, behind him, a large banner unfurls and it reads “Pat Paulsen for President. Sure, why not?”

Now I remember my friend Rich McAllister using that expression more than once and I think I warned him about what happened to Paulsen. Fact is I think it’s how 99 percent of us end up working on conventions or taking on some job. Someone asks and we reply “sure, why not?” (it goes along with “how hard can it be?)]

Okay, okay, so where was I? Oh, the book. So I’m not remembering much about the first book, which is all right, and I’m finding this one interesting and all that and then it happens. Around page 53. The stopper.

Do you have things that stop you from reading a book? Do you tolerate mistakes? Only certain kinds? Like you know that you’re an expert in Urdu and you can’t expect folks to get the pronunciation right so in a book, someone says something about your mother in Urdu. You let it go, right?

We all have them, I bet. And we all try. And I DID try. I kept reading for another like 50 pages or so, but it kept tugging at my sleeve. It wasn’t obscure. It was a mistake. And, I think a STOOPID one. The author should have known it. His editor should have known it. His friends who read the manuscript should have known it. SOMEONE should have known it. And fixed the stupid error.

SPOILER warning -

Now – HERE is where you need to stop reading if you don’t want to know the specifics okay? Because I’m going to name the book and author and the error. I’m not going to be finishing this book, or reviewing it. But if you ARE planning to this book, you might not want to hear the rant. And mind you, while this is an error, it is NOT an error that destroys the book. It’s not huge. It’s just wrong and dumb and apparently enough of an annoyance to THIS reader that she stopped reading the book and went on to another one. Non-fiction. (Which has annoying things in it but they’re not factual, and she’s finding other things to like. Probably. So far.)

The book is SORROW’S ANTHEM by Michael Koryta. His first, TONIGHT I SAID GOODBYE, got a loud response. Why? I thought it a competently written book, a good p.i. novel But no more. The noise came from the fact that Koryta was 20 when he wrote it. It won the Shamus contest for best first pi novel.

And don’t get me wrong, I thought it was good. It sounded “older” and as if it had been written by a writer with more experience on the planet. But it wasn’t GREAT. Still, enough about it was interesting to me to try book two.

We’re in the office of the county prosecutor. With him are a reporter and two private investigators. Both pi’s are former police officers. They ask him did X come and see you? Yes. What did he come to see you about? He had told one of the pi’s that he’d gone to see the prosecutor to tell him about some bad things happening. X wasn’t a good guy, and it’s all way too vague, but he knew something apparently illegal and was reporting it to the prosecutor. Malfeasance,simony, who knows. We don’t know. We know that the guy went to the office with what appear to have been vague accusations of wrongdoing in the county and was kicked out. And the prosecutor says…well first he says “you know, a lot of people forget that I’m still a practicing attorney.”

WHAT? Wait, wait that's not quite the stopper but WHAT? Who would forget that the prosecutor is a LAWYER? Maybe it’s the practicing part but WHAT?

Then he says “And people forget that any conversations I have are protected by attorney/client privilege. They’re private.”

That’s it. That’s the stopper. If you don’t have a problem with that, go ahead and read the book and I hope you enjoy it. If it bothers you at ALL that THREE people in that room, hearing that – four if you count the actual SPEAKER – did not do spit-takes or guffaw so loudly that the windows blew out, you’re my guy.

Because you see, of course, that’s bullshit and no one called him on it. Anyone who’s watched like THREE episodes of “Law & Order” (Stu says “Perry Mason”) would know what’s stupid here. All conversations with someone who’s a lawyer are not private. NOR protected by privilege. This implies that bozo’s wife could call him up and ask him to stop and get the kids at SOCCER practice and it would be privileged. Because he’s a lawyer, see. What he wants on his tuna SUB is not privileged. Because he’s a lawyer. No, bubba, “any conversation” you have is not protected by privilege.

Of course privilege exists. But a) you gotta be a CLIENT of the ATTORNEY to invoke attorney/client privilege. When someone walks into his office and says “I know something I want to tell you”, that does not make him a client, and the conversation is not covered by privilege. It could hae become privileged converstaion really quickly but I don't see it here. The guy did not take him on as a client of the county, he kicked him out. I’m not sure if that’s even PRIVATE but the four people in the room seem to confuse “private conversation” with “protected conversation”. Between two people who did not have a relationship that was protected. Yeah, you can argue that the guy was intending to become a client, but it clearly did not happen. No agreement was reached, nothing stated. The “informant” was kicked out of the office and nothing happened. He was not a client. And I know there are arguments about potential clients and work product out there but this ain’t them.

Could it have been written so that I would have accepted it? Probably. I dunno. I just found it ludicrous that the guy said what he did, no one questioned and they went on. Koryta may only be 22 or whatever, but his website says he’s a pi, he knows how to do research I imagine and pi’s must have SOME background in basic points of law. Right? (he majored in criminal justice but that’s no guarantee; depends on the focus of the program. We never discussed privilege that I recall in my Master’s program, but the program he attended is pretty extensive.

Privilege is not about all conversations, even if they take place in a lawyer’s office. I mean I worked for lawyers, so there are things that under "work product" would have been privileged, but when I asked Ned about his new baby, or the Lawyer From Hell about which kind of wine he liked, we were not having a conversation about a client, or a case, even if it was a conversation in a law office. With a lawyer.

Which apparently neither a savvy newspaper reporter NOR two former cops knew. It went right by. The pi’s didn’t look at each other and smirk. No one blinked and said “scuze me, why would that conversation be privileged?” They nod. AT LEAST they should have asked. Maybe he could have come up with some sort of bs about “well, potential client blah blah blah” but no. And EVERY conversation with a lawyer is NOT private. Nor privileged. A relationship has to exist that protects it.

When they leave the office, none of them says “you know that was bullshit what he told us, right?” In the 40 more pages or so I read, it’s never brought up again.

Was I looking for something to stop my reading? No. I kept reading. But I put a marker on the page and went back and reread that paragraph like three times. And I decided that it WAS a stopper. I don’t know why. It just was.

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