Lawyers, guns and money

The First Thing We Do

By Elspeth Redmond

A review of The First Thing We Do by Robert Michael Mckenzie

Published on May 1, 2007

The First Thing We Do
Robert Michael Mckenzie

Redlader Publishing

The First Thing We Do vividly evokes the Montreal of late 1991. Linguistic tensions are running high, and when criminologist Maurice Dupont starts to investigate the shooting death of criminal lawyer Danny Abrams, he discovers that the eminent law firm of Mulholland, Franklin, Hercovits and Abrams is seething with internal and external grievances.

The overworked police have had to deal with 13 murders in the previous eight days, including that of another lawyer, and given that this one was a cocaine addict and had set up a major drug deal that went badly wrong a few months earlier, they decide his murder is a “settling of accounts” and hold off from further investigation. The victim’s father, senior partner Maurice Abrams, calls in Dupont because he wants answers, as does the insurance company which stands to pay out a million dollars to the not-so-grieving widow.

This is a lean, fast-moving, and highly entertaining tale, narrated by Dupont’s associate Gerry McNaughton. It is set in a rich and materialistic world of fine wines and exotic food. However, McNaughton’s investigations also lead him into the shady world of the Lachine Gang (named after the canal where they dispose of their enemies) and face to face with small-time crook Sonny O’Rourke. Then another member of Abrams’ firm is gruesomely murdered in his own office and the other Anglophone lawyers receive death threats. Convicted terrorist Fernand Lafrancoeur is now out on parole – does he bear a grudge against the law firm, or at least its English-speaking lawyers? Is his radical separatist group implicated? Dupont resolves the mystery in a satisfying denouement. mRb

Elspeth Redmond is a Baie d'Urfe writer and reviewer.



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