When one has been on the other side of the law, perspective shifts radically. Even for a defendant, however, Henry VI, Part 1 takes it a bit far. ("The first thing we do, let's kill all the lawyers.") However, truth be told in my (albeit limited) experience, I have indeed, sad to say, found there are few lawyers I like, and even fewer I trust. One happy exception is Guido Guerrieri; alas, his existence is fabricated, yet... Part of his charm could be because Guerrieri is more detective than lawyer, and even better, he steps out of a beautiful but existential universe. He has the capacity, even when taking on the most sordid cases, to see through the smoke and mirrors.
" Once we've told a story about something that happened - especially if we have told that story in a formal context...and we are asked to tell it again, we tend to reiterate the first narrative rather than evoking direct memories of the actual experience. This mechanism only becomes more firmly cemented with each successive repetition and, in the end, what happens is that we no longer remember the actual events, but instead our account of the events."
This legerdemain is a defense,reflexive, sometimes brilliant, but a defense nonetheless, and he recognizes it as such.
"It's not like memories dissolve and disappear. They're all still there, hidden under a thin crust of consciousness. Even the memories we thought we'd lost forever. Sometimes they remain under the surface for an entire lifetime. Other times, something happens that makes them reappear."
Proust tells us it's far better (and less dangerous) to visit the memories than the reality. But how do we hold on, then, and indeed, what a miracle if we do.
This brought to mind a passage from Nabokov, in oft overlooked Bend Sinister:
"As with so many phenomena of time, recurrent combinations are perceptible as such only when they cannot affect us any more --when they are imprisoned, so to speak, in the past, which is the past just because it is disinfected. To try to map our tomorrows with the help of data supplied by our yesterdays means ignoring the basic element of the future which is its complete non-existence. The giddy rush of the present into this vacuum is mistaken by us for a rational movement."
Counselor Guerrieri doesn't make that mistake. He is aware from the first that crimes, just like life, have no rational movement. The reader has a pretty good idea of what may ultimately occur, but watching Guerrieri meander through the shadows of drugs and despair has enough suspense to keep one curious. And although the darkness is often overwhelming, the Counselor manages to maintain his ballast.
"Hannah Arendt wrote, 'The remedy for unpredictability, for the chaotic uncertainty of the future, is contained in the faculty to make and keep promises.'" He does both, and for that, his creator, Gianrico Carofiglio just could be that exceedingly rare person, a prosecutor I might not mind.