Christmas Movies and Serial Killers

Rogier van der Weyden (1399-1464), The Annunciation:

Rogier van der Weyden (1399-1464), The Annunciation

Today is the first Sunday in the season of Advent, a time in which Christians traditionally prepare themselves by reflection and prayer for the Incarnation, the birth of Jesus, God made flesh.  Ultimately, of course, Jesus was sacrificed upon the Cross for our sins, and “sacrifice” is a fit subject for Advent reflection:

We may think of sacrifice in its patriotic or collective sense, as when we attended a Veterans’ Day parade or when an earlier generation watched a movie about World War II hero Audie Murphy (1925-1971).

More commonly, we talk about sacrifice in its individual or instrumental sense, as when we say that an athlete has made sacrifices to achieve proficiency in a sport; when parents scrimp and save to send their children to college; or when George Bailey puts everybody else first in It’s A Wonderful Life (1946).

We even grapple with “sacrifice” in its entertainment sense. We are great consumers of fiction and nonfiction books and films about serial killers and psychopaths, many of whom are presented to us as treating their victims sacrificially.

None of this is how scripture views sacrifice. The distinction is critical: in one direction lies death (Christmas movies and serial killers); in the other direction we find life. How is this so?

Read the entire post here, from the Cathedral Church of the Advent blog: Christmas Movies and Serial Killers.

Some eggnog?

Some eggnog?

 


White (Collar) Christmas: Gin, Crime, Theology and the Rat Pack

Deck the halls.

Deck the halls.

 

The hour is upon us, so herewith a few Christmas items.

Cocktails

"Thought I'd never finish shopping."

“Thought I’d never finish shopping.”

Here from the archives is a recipe (via Garden & Gun magazine) for Milk Punch for Christmas Morning and a new recipe for An Old Old-Fashioned   .

From our friends at the Gin Monkey blog, a gin drinker’s gift list and from Gastronomista, a recipe for Jagermeister and Rye.  Yikes.

 

 

 

The Christmas rush.

The Christmas rush.

Crime

From J. Kingston Pierce of The Rap Sheet, here are 10 of The Most Arresting Crime Novels of 2015.

Marilyn Stasio, crime fiction reviewer for the New York Times, sets out her 2015 favorites in Death Takes No Holiday   .

Theology

From David Zahl at MockingbirdConsuming 2015: Favorite Music, Media, Books and Humor.

Billable hours done.

Billable hours done.

Here is my piece for the Cathedral Church of the Advent blog on Christmas Movies and Serial Killers.

 

 

 

 

 

 

And finally, a Rat Pack Christmas scene — Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin and Sammy Davis, Jr. — from 1967’s Robin and The Seven Hoods:

Merry Christmas!


Why We Should Ban Any New “Christmas Carol” and Re-Tune Victorian Hymns

Not gluten-free.

Not gluten-free.

The BBC’s classical music site published this article about the Victorians and Christmas stories.  The Charles Dickens classic A Christmas Carol is among them, but so too some more obscure (at least, obscure to me) work by George Eliot and others.

Cool night-cap.

Cool night-cap.

As novelist John Irving  noted in an introduction to A Christmas Carol, the work is essentially a Christian ghost story about human transformation:

Scrooge is such a pillar of skepticism, he at first resists believing in Marley’s Ghost. “You may be an undigested bit of beef, a blot of mustard, a crumb of cheese, a fragment of an underdone potato. There’s more of gravy than of grave about you, whatever you are!” Yet Scrooge is converted; beyond the seasonal lessons of Christian charity, A Christmas Carol teaches us that a man—even a man as hard as Ebenezer Scrooge—can change. What is heartening about the change in Scrooge is that he learns to love his fellowman; in the politically correct language of our insipid times, Scrooge learns to be more caring. But, typical of Dickens, Scrooge has undergone a deeper transformation; that he is persuaded to believe in ghosts, for example, means that Scrooge has been miraculously returned to his childhood—and to a child’s powers of imagination and make-believe.

Most of us have seen so many renditions of A Christmas Carol that we imagine we know the story, but how long has it been since we’ve actually read it? Each Christmas, we are assaulted with a new Carol; indeed, we’re fortunate if all we see is the delightful Alastair Sim. One year, we suffer through some treacle6 in a western setting; Scrooge is a grizzled cattle baron, tediously unkind to his cows. Another year, poor Tiny Tim hobbles about in the Bronx or in Brooklyn; old Ebenezer is an unrepentant slum landlord. . . . We should spare ourselves these sentimentalized enactments and reread the original—or read it for the first time, as the case may be.

The Alistair Sim version is a classic, but my favorite is the 1984 version with George C. Scott as Scrooge:


As noted in this Economist book review, the Victorians were also great — perhaps the greatest — hymn-writers, unafflicted by the grinning, emoji-level landscape of most “Contemporary Christian Music”:

[H]ymn-books were the bestsellers of the age. Hymns were a vital part of popular culture: their texts appeared on posters, tombstones and in school reading-books and they were the primary means of teaching the principles of Christianity to adults and children alike. “Let me write the hymns of the church,” one preacher maintained, “and I care not who writes the theology.”

A marvelous contemporary antidote to the milktoast of much CCM  is found in the work of Indelible Grace, a movement that “re-tunes” old hymns — many of them Victorian.  Here is a look:

 The tunes, although all within the same rootsy bandwith, are lovely, and the theology solid.


Crime, Cocktails, Fiction and Scripture: blogs, links and sources on white-collar crime, cocktails, crime fiction and theology

I know that page is here somewhere.

I know that page is here somewhere.

We have recently updated and supplemented our “Blogs | Links | Sources” page here.  It might be the most useful page on the site, with multiple links to writers and journalists dealing with White Collar Wire’s primary afflictions: white collar crime, cocktails, crime fiction and theology.

Blogs|Links|Sources

White Collar Generally

Walt Pavlo  — excellent source of daily news and commentary.  Also, see his articles in Forbes.

PonziTracker — by Jordan Maglich.  The source for all things Ponzi.

DealBook — New York Times blog led by Andrew Ross Sorkin.

White Collar Crime Prof Blog — thoughtful source edited by Ellen Podgor, with contributions by Solomon Wisenberg.

White Collar Watch — by Peter J. Henning, a professor at Wayne State University Law School and the author of “The Prosecution and Defense of Public Corruption: The Law & Legal Strategies.” Before teaching, he worked at the Securities and Exchange Commission’s enforcement division and then as a prosecutor at the Justice Department.

FCPA Professor — all FCPA, all the time.  Blogged by  Mike Koehler, a law professor at Southern Illinois University.

WSJ Risk and Compliance  — the compliance blog of the Wall Street Journal.  It “provides news and commentary to corporate executives and others who need to understand, monitor and control the many risks that can tarnish brands, distract management and harm investors. Its content spans governance, risk and compliance and includes analysis of the significance of laws and regulations, the risks inherent in global expansion and the protective moves taken by companies.”

Sentencing Law & Policy — a blog devoted entirely to sentencing issues from Douglas A. Berman, a law professor at Moritz (Ohio State).

Cyb3rcrim3 — notes on digital-crime cases by Susan Brenner, a law professor who speaks, writes and consults on cybercrime and cyberconflict.

The BLT — the blog of The Legal Times (Washington, D.C.).  Not a white-collar blog, strictly speaking, but often has news items of note.

Brandon L. Garrett and Jon Ashley, Federal Organizational Prosecution Agreements, University of Virginia School of Law, at http://lib.law.virginia.edu/Garrett/prosecution_agreements/home.suphp — interesting collection of deferred-prosecution and non-prosecution agreements (“DPAs” and “NPAs”)

ABA White-Collar Blog Directory  — the American Bar Association Journal “Blawg” list of white-collar crime blogs.  Some are better than others.

NACDL White-Collar Crime  — the white-collar page of the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers.  Useful  resources.

University of Richmond Anti-Bribery Database  —  good resources for researching various legal topics relating to anti-bribery law in international business.

William & Mary Law School Library White-Collar Materials  — some items are only available at the Wolf Law Library, but generally a good guide.

 

All three branches.

All three branches.

Government

DOJ — the United States Department of Justice main site.

U.S. Attorneys’ Manual  — searchable DOJ policy.

United States Sentencing Commission  — good resource for Guidelines applications, cases, news and proposed rules.

Supreme Court — search for slip opinions.

FINCEN  — the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network at the Department of the Treasury.

Environmental Crimes Section at DOJ  — federal environmental criminal investigation and enforcement.

Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts  — especially useful for statistics and the basics of the federal judicial system.

DEA — the federal Drug Enforcement Administration.

ICE  — U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement is “the principal investigative arm of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS). Created in 2003 through a merger of the investigative and interior enforcement elements of the U.S. Customs Service and the Immigration and Naturalization Service, ICE now has more than 20,000 employees in offices in all 50 states and 47 foreign countries.”

SEC and DOJ Resource Guide on the FCPA   — guidance document on the FCPA issued by DOJ and the SEC.

SEC — the federal Securities and Exchange Commission.

SEC’s Office of the Whistleblower   — the SEC’s Office of the Whistleblower, which administers the SEC’s whistleblowers’s program.

Eleventh Circuit Pattern Jury Instructions Builder  — an on-line program that allows you to easily and quickly generate federal court jury instructions.  Easy to use, and very handy.

Fifth Circuit Library’s Collection of Pattern Jury Instructions — pattern instructions for the Fifth Circuit and other federal circuits.  No online “builder” function, but some are downloadable in Word or pdf.

Federal Public Defender Northern District of Alabama  — the Office of the Federal Public Defender for the Northern District of Alabama, headed by Kevin Butler.

 

Ladies first.

Ladies first.

Cocktails

gazregan — the website of “gaz regan, the bartender formerly known as Gary Regan, works six shifts at The Dead Rabbit in New York City.  Every year.”  Cocktail recipes, newsletters and books.  Bartending news.

Daily Shot — The Garden & Gun Blog — from Garden & Gun magazine.  Southern food, but often drinks, too.

Gastronomista — Gastronomista is an art and design blog focused on the culture of food and drink, and was founded in October of 2009 as a way to keep track of delicious treasures, tipples, and trips around the world. It is run by Emily Arden Wells who pens under the name Miss Emma Emerson, who is an architect by day, writer and avid drinker by night.

Mouthing Off  — the cocktails-blog of Food & Wine magazine.

Cocktail Whisperer  —  “Cocktail and food musing from Rum judge Warren Bobrow.”  He is the cocktail writer for Foodista.

Epicurious Drinks  — cocktails from Epicurious.  Also, Epicurious cocktail Recipes

Esquire Drinks Database — a collection of cocktail recipes from Esquire magazine.

The Poisoned Martini  —  a blog and site that combines mystery fiction and cocktails.

Bourbon Blog — mostly bourbon.

Slainte — all Irish whiskey.

Beer Advocate — its motto is “Respect Beer.”

Liquor.com — from Huffington Post.  Name says it all.

 

Awkward.

Awkward.

Crime Fiction

The Rap Sheet — rich source of news, book reviews, new releases, trade show information and sources.

The Poisoned Pen  — blog of The Poisoned Pen, an excellent mystery bookstore in Scottsdale, Arizona.

The Mysterious Bookshop — blog from The Mysterious Bookshop, a longstanding store in New York.

Dead Good  — a Random House-run site from the United Kingdom.

Crime Fiction Lover  — news and reviews.

Killer Covers — outstanding vintage covers from crime novels.  Killer Covers is a companion project of The Rap Sheet, a news and features resource for crime-fiction fans, edited by J. Kingston Pierce.

Dead Guys In Suits —  all gangsters, all the time.  Written by Pat Downey, the author of Legs Diamond: GangsterGangster City: The History of the New York Underworld 1900-1935 and Bad Seeds in the Big Apple: Bandits, Killers & Chaos in New York 1920-1940.

Existential Ennui     —- a UK site.  “The chronicle of a chronic book collector.”

 

Archbishop Cranmer.

Archbishop Cranmer.

Theology

Cathedral Church of the Advent   —-   “a Gospel-centered church, with a ‘living, daring confidence in God’s grace”’(Martin Luther) evident in any of our programs and ministries.  Holding to what the Letter of Jude calls ‘the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints’, this Gospel focus finds the Cross and Resurrection of Jesus ever and only at the center.

Advent BIAY — the Advent’s Bible-In-A-Year blog.

Mockingbird —  “connecting the Christian faith with the realities of everyday life.”

Titus One Nine  — edited by Kendall Harmon.

Truth For Life — the blog of Alistair Begg’s ministry.

My Utmost For His Highest  — daily readings from Oswald Chambers (1874-1917).  Here’s his bio.

Christ Episcopal Church — in Charlottesville, Virginia.

 


“Appellate Jurisdiction” | Marianne Moore (1887-1972)

What's the appeal?

What’s the appeal?

For pondering our appeals of all sorts.

 

Appellate Jurisdiction

by

Marianne Moore

Fragments of sin are a part of me.
New brooms shall sweep clean the heart of me.
      Shall they? Shall they?

When this light life shall have passed away,
God shall redeem me, a castaway.
      Shall He? Shall He?

 

About This Poem

“Appellate Jurisdiction” by Marianne Moore was published in the May 1915 issue of Poetry along with four other poems by Moore.

Marianne Moore was born in Saint Louis, Missouri, on November 15, 1887. Moore, a former Chancellor of the Academy of American Poets, was the recipient of the National Book Award and the Pulitzer Prize. She died in New York City on February 5, 1972.


Lawyer Presentations Without PowerPoint: Charles Laughton and The Fiery Furnace

Charles Laughton

Charles Laughton

At trial in a white-collar or civil business case, lawyers sometimes complain that the material or documents they must work with are so old, so familiar or so different from everyday language and commerce that there is no way to keep the attention of judge and jury.

Not so.  Just watch as Charles Laughton reads The Fiery Furnace on the Ed Sullivan Show (1960).

And, delivered decades before a PowerPoint deck, laser pointer, “elmo” or any other such dreadful presentation tool was available.  (Indeed, delivered without notes, for that matter).

 

In case you need a transcript go-by, here it is (from Daniel 3:1-30).  Personally, for the most obscure musical instrument, I prefer the translation “sackbutt” to “trigon”, but I was not asked:

King Nebuchadnezzar made an image of gold, whose height was sixty cubitsand its breadth six cubits. He set it up on the plain of Dura, in the province of Babylon. Then King Nebuchadnezzar sent to gather the satraps, the prefects, and the governors, the counselors, the treasurers, the justices, the magistrates, and all the officials of the provinces to come to the dedication of the image that King Nebuchadnezzar had set up.  Then the satraps, the prefects, and the governors, the counselors, the treasurers, the justices, the magistrates, and all the officials of the provinces gathered for the dedication of the image that King Nebuchadnezzar had set up. And they stood before the image that Nebuchadnezzar had set up. And the herald proclaimed aloud, “You are commanded, O peoples, nations, and languages, that when you hear the sound of the horn, pipe, lyre, trigon, harp, bagpipe, and every kind of music, you are to fall down and worship the golden image that King Nebuchadnezzar has set up. And whoever does not fall down and worship shall immediately be cast into a burning fiery furnace.” Therefore, as soon as all the peoples heard the sound of the horn, pipe, lyre, trigon, harp, bagpipe, and every kind of music, all the peoples, nations, and languages fell down and worshiped the golden image that King Nebuchadnezzar had set up.

Therefore at that time certain Chaldeans came forward and maliciously accused the Jews. They declared to King Nebuchadnezzar, “O king, live forever!  You, O king, have made a decree, that every man who hears the sound of the horn, pipe, lyre, trigon, harp, bagpipe, and every kind of music, shall fall down and worship the golden image.  And whoever does not fall down and worship shall be cast into a burning fiery furnace. There are certain Jews whom you have appointed over the affairs of the province of Babylon: Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. These men, O king, pay no attention to you; they do not serve your gods or worship the golden image that you have set up.”

Then Nebuchadnezzar in furious rage commanded that Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego be brought. So they brought these men before the king. Nebuchadnezzar answered and said to them, “Is it true, O Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, that you do not serve my gods or worship the golden image that I have set up? Now if you are ready when you hear the sound of the horn, pipe, lyre, trigon, harp, bagpipe, and every kind of music, to fall down and worship the image that I have made, well and good. But if you do not worship, you shall immediately be cast into a burning fiery furnace. And who is the god who will deliver you out of my hands?”

Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego answered and said to the king, “O Nebuchadnezzar, we have no need to answer you in this matter. If this be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of your hand, O king.But if not, be it known to you, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the golden image that you have set up.”

Then Nebuchadnezzar was filled with fury, and the expression of his face was changed against Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. He ordered the furnace heated seven times more than it was usually heated. And he ordered some of the mighty men of his army to bind Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, and to cast them into the burning fiery furnace. Then these men were bound in their cloaks, their tunics,their hats, and their other garments, and they were thrown into the burning fiery furnace. Because the king’s order was urgent and the furnace overheated, the flame of the fire killed those men who took up Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. And these three men, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, fell bound into the burning fiery furnace.

Then King Nebuchadnezzar was astonished and rose up in haste. He declared to his counselors, “Did we not cast three men bound into the fire?” They answered and said to the king, “True, O king.” He answered and said, “But I see four men unbound, walking in the midst of the fire, and they are not hurt; and the appearance of the fourth is like a son of the gods.”

Then Nebuchadnezzar came near to the door of the burning fiery furnace; he declared, “Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, servants of the Most High God, come out, and come here!” Then Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego came out from the fire.  And the satraps, the prefects, the governors, and the king’s counselors gathered together and saw that the fire had not had any power over the bodies of those men. The hair of their heads was not singed, their cloaks were not harmed, and no smell of fire had come upon them.  Nebuchadnezzar answered and said, “Blessed be the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, who has sent his angel and delivered his servants, who trusted in him, and set aside the king’s command, and yielded up their bodies rather than serve and worship any god except their own God.  Therefore I make a decree: Any people, nation, or language that speaks anything against the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego shall be torn limb from limb, and their houses laid in ruins, for there is no other god who is able to rescue in this way.” Then the king promoted Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego in the province of Babylon.

 


Red Harvest: Crime Fiction and Gospel Conviction

Forgot how itchy this suit is.

Forgot how itchy this suit is.

Pop culture and theology mix fruitfully in pulp-crime fiction.

Here’s a four-part course from 2012: Red Harvest: Crime Fiction and Gospel Conviction          .

Here’s the blurb that went with the class:

Crime fiction, in its varied forms, both illuminates and counterpoints the Gospel.  Crime fiction correctly presents and analyzes the sinful human condition, even where its conclusions are horribly wrong.  And, in crime fiction as nowhere else, the law is most definitely the Law: God did not get after Cain for shoplifting.

Second-hand smoke.

Second-hand smoke.

So: four classes’ worth of dark human hearts and blazing Gospel light, interspersed with mayhem, Augustine, detectives, 1930s pulp novels and the overlooked theological punch from the opening line of The Postman Always Rings Twice: “They threw me off the hay truck about noon.”

These are complete classes, so prepare a stiff drink before hitting “Play.”

As an example of what not to drink, consider this assault on civilization from that Pravda of sentimentality, Parade magazine: Girl Scouts Cookie Thin Mints Martini

Ingredients

  • 3 parts chocolate vodka
  • ½ shot creme de menthe
  • 1 shot chocolate milk liquor
  • Chocolate syrup (as needed)
  • 1 Thin Mint, crushed

Directions

  1. In a martini shaker, mix together chocolate vodka, creme de menthe, and chocolate milk liquor. Shake well. If you don’t have a martini shaker, use a glass filled with ice and mix well.
  2. Coat a martini glass with chocolate syrup. Crush the Thin Mint cookie and coat the brim of the martini glass with the cookie. Then, pour your martini drink mixture into the glass.
Thin Mints Martini: ready for Miley Cyrus, Justin Bieber and Red Lobster.

Thin Mints Martini: ready for Miley Cyrus, Justin Bieber and Red Lobster.

 

The mind, as well as the bowel, races.  One might add:

3.  Insert Luger under tongue to minimize the aftertaste

 

 

 

The Seelbach.

The Seelbach.

Here is something more appropriate: Garden & Gun magazine’s Guide to Southern Cocktails.

 

 

 

 

We have, of course, written on crime fiction and how it relates to business crime, cocktails and theology before.

 

 


Criminals In Ties: Contract Law and Reservoir Dogs

Mephibosheth and David.

Mephibosheth and David.

The interplay between law — especially criminal law — and theology is more subterranean and nuanced than many give it credit for.  The same is true of civil law, as here:  Contract Law and Reservoir Dogs

A contract is an exchange of promises: “I promise to do x if you promise to do y.”  Each party must undertake an obligation—called “consideration”—for the contract to be binding.  A simple unilateral promise with no consideration (“I will give you my car on Monday”) is not usually binding.  These law-rules about obligations in our daily lives provide a contrast to the covenant that the Lord makes with David and to the way that David treats Mephibosheth, Jonathan’s son.

Off to compliance training.

Off to compliance training.

Tarantino’s Reservoir Dogs (1992), of course, shaped an entire generation of criminals-in-ties on film.  We have discussed crime and theology before, at Spare the King and Seize the Spareribs, in what may be the only paragraph in English to discuss both King Saul and John D. MacDonald’s fictional private eye, Travis McGee.


John D. MacDonald and King Saul

The Quick Red Fox (1964).

The Quick Red Fox (1964).

We worked John D. MacDonald’s private eye, Travis McGee, into this discussion of King Saul and the young David:  Spare the King and Seize the Spareribs.  I most recently read The Quick Red Fox, which I was thinking about for the Saul and David post.

MacDonald had fine PI prose:

Darker Than Amber (1966).

Darker Than Amber (1966).

“We were about to give up and call it a night when somebody threw the girl off the bridge” (Darker Than Amber (1966)).

 


George V. Higgins and the Archeology of White-Collar Crime

George V. Higgins

George V. Higgins

In popular culture, business-crime is presented cartoon-fashion. In movies, on television or in novels, businesspeople who are corporate targets of government investigations come across as Snidely Whiplashes with French cuffs.  This practice is predictable, its results boring.  Not so with the work of the late Boston-based novelist and one-time Assistant United States Attorney George V. Higgins (1939 – 1999).   From the George V. Higgins Collection at the University of South Carolina:

George V. Higgins (1939-1999) succeeded in nine distinct careers, all of which are documented in his archive.  Armed with two English degrees and a law degree, Higgins became a journalist for the Associated Press, The Boston Globe and The Wall Street Journal, as well as a federal prosecutor, district attorney and defense attorney, novelist, critic, historian and a creative writing professor at Boston University (1988-1999).  He was also a fierce Red Sox loyalist, so much so that he wrote a book on Boston baseball in 1989 titled The Progress of the Seasons: Forty Years of Baseball in Our Town.

 

Here’s a collection of articles about Higgins: the NYT on George v. Higgins

Wonderful Years, Wonderful Years (1988)

Wonderful Years, Wonderful Years (1988)

What distinguishes Higgins, above all else, is voice.  The term is “voice” is both over-used and under-used: over-used, when the critic means something like “tone.”  Under-used, when the meaning conveyed is “narrator.”  With the lawyers, crooks, businessmen and prosecutors of a Higgins novel, “voices” means actual “voices” — the sounds that one immediately recognizes as true, as here from Wonderful Years, Wonderful Years (1988), where a lawyer advises his client:

“‘You take your victim as you find him,'” Morse said.

“What?” Farley said.

“It’s a law thing,” Morse said.  “You run over an eighty-year-old derelict with your car, no living relatives, and kill him.  It’s not gonna cost you anywhere near as much, you hit a thirty-year-old brain surgeon with four kids and a wife and the only injury he suffers is the loss of his right hand.  You didn’t pick your victim right, and so it’s gonna cost you.  Sounds kind of mean, but that is the law.  And the law’s fuckin’ life — so they say.”

The Friends of Eddie Coyle

The Friends of Eddie Coyle (1970)

Doubtless, Higgins can be difficult to read: a torrent of dialogue, and common, barely-linked events.  Higgins’s novels are not thrillers, nor mysteries.  Not only do they lack suspense, some barely have a plot.  The best two in my experience are The Friends of Eddie Coyle (his first one) and Wonderful Years, Wonderful Years.

Higgins was also adept at describing the dynamic of business-crime prosecution, politics and disloyalty.  Here, again from Wonderful Years, Wonderful Years, is a portion of a conversation between Saxon, a criminal-defense lawyer, and Farley, the owner of a Boston paving company and the target of a federal investigation.  (For our younger readers, “Bobby” is Robert F. Kennedy):

“Now,” he said, “you’re telling me, these federal guys might do that?  I must be getting old.  This used to be America.  What a rotten bunch of pricks.”

“Don’t kid yourself,” Saxon said.  “They are a bunch of pricks.  But they’re no worse’n the rotten bunch of pricks that Bobby’s men, and Ike’s appointments, FDR’s and Truman’s, all of those guys were.  They all did the same damned thing.  Suited them to crucify someone because the public’d like it, well, the next sound you hear’ll be the carpenters at work.  War is the extension of diplomacy by other means?  Justice is quite often the extension of politics by prosecution.”

“Well,” Farley said, “guess all I can do now’s hope she [his wife] keeps a good grip on her marbles, this whole shitty thing blows over.”

“That,” Saxon said, “and that nobody else in your little entourage gets cold feet and lets you down.”

“Never happen,” Farley said.  “My people are loyal.”

“Right,” Saxon said.  “That’s what Jesus thought.  ‘Have a piece of bread, Judas.  ‘Nother cup of wine?  Nothing like a little supper with your friends all by your side.'”

The lawyer has his theology wrong — Jesus knew exactly what Judas was about — but that conversation likely happens in law offices somewhere each and every day.