Thursday, June 6, 2013

LCC Review: The First Thing We Do...


The First Thing We Do..., is the beginning of a quote from Henry VI Part Two by Shakespeare which ends with: let's kill all the lawyers. As such this mystery and thriller is about a murder killing all the scumbag lawyers who get guilty people off on their charges. It follows two police detectives as they go about trying to solve the mystery, and as such this novel has a feeling of Law & Order, Agatha Christie, and CSI mixed all into one.

I was given a copy of this book not too long ago by a friend who wanted my opinion on it. Honestly I can say it was a well-written thriller. Bertram Gibbs truly understands the origins of the thriller genre in comedy and brings that aspect to life especially in the varied and intriguing characters we meet.

I especially loved all the characters that were unusually unique or inversions of typical stereotypes. The drug-dealer who dresses nicely and listens to classical music being one example of many laugh-out-loud characters who are not just ridiculous but at the same time very believably human. It's that combination of humanity and the ridiculous that Bertram Gibbs truly knows how to blend perfectly well.
In terms of genre, it knows how to employ its genre quite well and it follows all the rules of it while at the same time giving it its own twists and spins on it as well as incorporating the ever popular world of television cops. In the foreword Mr. Gibbs mentions he was inspired to write this story after seeing too many Law & Order type shows where the scumbag lawyer gets the clearly guilty guy off on a technicality of some sort and I can quite easily believe him. As a thriller/detective/mystery story, it belongs to the world view of Comedy--only it's Comedy that's so ironic that the only way to bring a community that is so self-interested, so disparate, and so degenerate together that it has to find a way to cast out the worst person of the bunch--and who's the worst person? The killer, whoever we determine him to be. It's in this stage of Comedy that it begins to reflect the world of Tragedy, except if this were an actual Tragedy we'd be looking at things from the killer's perspective. Instead we look at it from the defender of the community's perspective, the last person who can cajole some rag-tag sense of order and shared purpose together in a Comedic world that has become increasingly individualized. More will be talked on length about this in the What Makes Us Laugh series when it comes time to talk about Thrillers/Detective Stories/Mysteries.

It’s a good novel, though at times it can perhaps dwell a little too much in its own melodrama and angst. The novel starts strong and fresh in the beginning, but around the point where the author has to start providing us with a suspect to the crimes the novel quickly starts becoming predictable in terms of plot and action—but never motive. The author keeps any hints at motive as a jealous secret until the big reveal scene.

Some parts felt a tad phoned in in places (especially with the whole “I loved D____ in secret all along” part). The story itself is great, but the ending isn't as finely polished as the beginning is. It's like Mr. Gibbs took more relish in creatively killing off the scumbag lawyers and less so in bringing his killer to justice. Personally I don't blame him if he did feel that way, but it does dampen the novel and lowers my score. The beginning deserves a five, but the ending more a three, so I have averaged my score out to a four.

Overall it's a good read with many memorable characters to say the least. Pick it up if you have a chance.

It's a historical fact that nobody likes lawyers apparently.
~LCC