I decided to do another tie-in novel this week for Forgotten Books. THE DEFENDERS by Edward S. Aarons, a writer pretty much unknown by newer readers among us. He wrote the long running Assignment series featuring CIA agent Sam Durell, some forty -two novels before he died in 1975(something I learned in researching this post was that the series was continued by another writer for an additional six). I read a bunch of them in my younger days.
The Defenders was a television series featuring E. G. Marshall and Robert Reed as a father and son law firm, Lawrence and Kenneth Preston. Lawrence had been a lawyer for thirty years and Kenneth was a mid-twenties newly minted attorney. One oddity I learned in researching was that Reginald Rose developed the series from his teleplay for the anthology series Studio One, The Defender, that starred Ralph Bellamy and William Shatner as the father and son team.
In this original novel( a different publisher later did three novels based on teleplays), there are two intertwining cases. Lawrence takes the lead on a case involving a spoiled rich young woman, parents dead, that hit a child with her car, leaving him in critical condition. She doesn’t see that she did anything wrong. “It was an accident. OK, I had a few drinks, I missed a red light, I was speeding a little bit, but it was an accident.”
Another complication is the boy’s parents. His spleen is ruptured and needs to be removed, he’s lost a lot of blood, but the parents refuse to allow surgery. Their religious beliefs don’t allow it or accepting blood from someone else.
It’s Saturday and there’s a long delay in finding a judge to sign off on assuming custody of the boy for the surgery. Then, the boy dies anyway. Did the accident solely cause the death? Or did the long delay figure in? That’s what confronts Lawrence in court.
On that same Saturday, Kenneth meets a couple, friends of his girl friend, that are having problems. The man is a reporter and confides to Ken that while investigating a story, threats have come his way. They make arrangements to meet Monday and discuss it.
That same night he’s murdered and the police say his wife did it. She claims she was out walking the dog and found him dead, shot with his own gun, when she returns. Panicked, she runs, witnesses seeing her stuffing the gun into her purse. She admits that part and can’t explain why, other than panic. Also, her husband’s best friend says he called him and, with his dying breath, says his wife shot him.
These are the cases confronting the two lawyers.
I liked this novel, the first I’d read by Aarons in many years.