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Hostile Witness (Victor Carl #1)

3.85  ·  Rating Details ·  903 Ratings  ·  69 Reviews
Hard-luck Philadelphia lawyer Victor Carl is just itching for the opportunity to sell out. Then good fortune comes knocking at his door in the guise of William Prescott III, a blue-blood attorney from one of the city's most prestigious firms. Prescott wants Victor to represent a councilman's aide who is on trial, along with his boss, for extortion, arson, and murder. It's ...more
Hardcover, 501 pages
Published May 1st 1995 by HarperCollins
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(showing 1-30)
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Tim Warner
May 20, 2013 Tim Warner rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
this is an excellent work. I literally relished every word as I plunged into the depths of the brilliance of William Lashner. I am amazed that it took so long to hear about him. this is top-notch in every way. IF you like to read, I heartily recommend Hostile Witness. if you like deep character development, logical plots, and justice, I recommend Hostile Witness. I cannot say enough good about this.
Derek Davis
Sep 20, 2010 Derek Davis rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Can you really trust anyone with two first names?

Victor Carl is a weaselly lawyer of no repute who digs his own legal grave by getting involved with people he shouldn't. Never much to begin with in his ratty office on 21st st. in Philadelphia, by the end he's forever disgraced in his first major courtroom appearance.

So why should we care? Because Carl's a better man than he ever admits to himself, and in most things his instincts and intuition lead him to a level of truth that his more cerebral
Marshall Thornton
Oct 19, 2014 Marshall Thornton rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I enjoyed this. It was pretty obvious that the mc was being used, at times I thought it was too obvious, but overall I liked it. Very solid legal thriller.
Jun 15, 2011 Manugw rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

This very long book masterfully written with some sense of humor and fine prose, portraits one situation any lawyer may confront any point in his working life, to decide to follow ethic principles and be financially strained or grab the opportunity that comes once in life, quick career advancement and social prestige working in association with the top company of the city in the litigation field performing dishonest maneuverings in order to protect the shady deals of the powerfu
Dec 07, 2007 Lynn added it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: lawyer lovers

This is my second William Lashner novel and now I am hooked. What reeled me in is the marvelous complexity of Victor Carl, the lawyer-protagonist-everyman. He is, contrary to the grishamlike model, a man who has been dealt a hand that is not quite up to his ambitions. He is the prototypical American hero with a dose of realistic ambivalence thrown in.
Hostile Witness also gives Carl a sex life. Lashner doesn't exactly write sex scenes, what he does is give us the protag's view of what's happenin
Loved the descriptions of Philly!! Good crime novel.
Judy Churchill
Nov 10, 2016 Judy Churchill rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was a long book filled with an incredible amount of detail. A struggling young lawyer with resentment abounding thinks he's just landed his first opportunity with a noted blue blood firm. As it slowly dawns on him that he's been set up to represent the guy taking the fall, he comes to life. His adventures are many and varied in this new world of gangsters, drug dealers and murderers. Lashner writes a few powerfully sensual sex scenes in the course of these adventures. All in all, this is a ...more
Andrew Coiner
Mar 20, 2017 Andrew Coiner rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A very good legal thriller

Good on the law, but Hemingway he ain't. Like some in this genre, some descriptions are overwrought, but stick with it.
Dec 02, 2014 Hobart rated it it was ok
Shelves: 2014-reads
So this summer, on the recommendation of a reader, I read Marked Man , the sixth book about Victor Carl, the unfortunately named Philadelphia lawyer. I wasn't wowed by it, but I enjoyed it enough that I wanted to go back to the beginning and try at least one more in the series.

I'm not convinced that was such a great idea. It wasn't until the last 100 pages that I cared about anything going on in this book -- I even started to really like it, actually. But 80% of the way through a book is far to
Joyce Lagow
Apr 20, 2010 Joyce Lagow rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery
Victor Carl is a Philadelphia lawyer who, to his bitter regret, is about as far away from a job with a successful law firm, money, flashy cars, and, in general, a celebrity life style as it is possible to be without being bankrupt and homeless--all of which is looming around the corner. Deserted by one of his partners who had the gall not only to steal the firm's best clients but also to marry the society woman with whom Carl was sleeping, Victor--to put it mildly--is not a happy camper.[return] ...more
Victoria Jelinek Jensen
Hard luck Philadelphia lawyer Victor Carl yearns for the opportunity to get rich, be respected in the legal community, and have hot women begging to date him. Then William Prescott III, upper-cruster from one of the city’s most distinguished firms, comes knocking at his door. Prescott wants Victor to represent a councilman’s aide who is, along with his boss, accused of extortion, arson, and murder. It’s a high-profile court case that promises everything Victor longs for, and all he has to do is ...more
I am happy that I paid less than a dollar for this lengthy hardcover book. A young, flailing, Jewish, Philadelphia lawyer is presented with a chance of a lifetime opportunity to fulfill all his dream-- that basically boil down to "making it" in terms of wealth and status. The only problem is that he will have to sell out in many ways, though, he seems not to have a high moral standard to begin with. What follows is a trip through the dark side of politics, the drug trade and the world of "organi ...more
Bev Taylor
Apr 26, 2016 Bev Taylor rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
there's nothing more dangerous than an honest lawyer

victor carl runs his own law practice but after 6 years he is sinking fast with rising debts. plus one of his partners moved out, stole his girlfriend and is now working for a leading law firm

then victor is called by william prescott III a very high powered attorney who is everything that victor wants. prescott needs victor's help representing the aide of a local politician who is accused of extortion, arson and murder. in return he must foll
Jay Caselberg
This would have probably garnered one more star, but...It was a good enough read, the thing that has turned me off is that it was packed to the rafters with stereotypes. Instead of a low-rent gumshoe, we get a low-rent lawyer with questionable moral judgements. There is the femme fatale, and the whole rich versus poor scenario, however, the Italian mobsters who speak like Italian mobsters with the accent spelled out, the Hassids who speak like Hassids in that homespun way with all the Yiddish th ...more
May 27, 2016 Bonnie rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I really liked the plot of this book. There are some interesting twists and the characters are interesting. What I was NOT crazy about is the explicit sex scenes, which is why I gave it three stars. When I saw one starting I skipped it and thus missed more pages than one might expect, which gives you an idea of how explicit these probably are. I don't like to be critical, but I wish more people would mention in there reviews whether there is this sort of thing in the books they review since some ...more
Karen Patterson
Sep 01, 2009 Karen Patterson rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This the first book I've read by this author and when it started out I said to myself "oh, just another legal thriller similar to John Grisham," however I was pleasantly surprised and I got further involved with the story and characters and things I thought were obvious turned out to be something else. The main character is not your usual talk, good-looking, smartly dressed attorney either. He makes mistakes, often times obvious ones but somehow it made him more real to me. I also grew to love h ...more
May 05, 2016 Ben rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I picked "Hostile Witness" at the local library's used book sale because I recognized the author, William Lashner's name. It was a a twenty- year novel but for a $ 1.00 .....
It sat on my book rack for about six months before I got around to it. "Oh well, another lawyer story about a young attorney fighting the power elite." I was ready to be underwhelmed, but two days and 500 pages later, I laid the book down saying, " That was a damn good book."
So, if you can find a copy pick it up for a trip t
Jun 05, 2009 Beverly rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
First in the VIctor Carl lawyer series. Victor is co-opted by a white shoe law firm to represent a councioman's aid accused of murder while the big firm represents the councilman. All VIctor has to do is keep his mouth shut and he will win a lot of law business from the big boys. But it gets very complicated with cross, double cross, and soon Victor faces a raging moral crossroad. Great character in crack Hassidic detective Morris Kaputsin and his son. We also meet Victor's dying father. Lots of ...more
Jul 30, 2013 David rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Loved it and I think Victor Carl goes down as one of my favorite characters ever. His questionable morals and slimy ways are somehow endearing. He makes no bones about the fact that he wants one thing, to be rich and have money. He will do almost anything to get the money, but in the end, even though he struggles with the right motivation, he somehow ends up doing the right thing every time. I love this entire series and have been looking for a good legal series since the early works of John Gri ...more
Peggy Walker
A very well written legal thriller. Evidently this is the first in a series of books about attorney Victor Carl, so I'll have to seek out some more. He's not the typical protagonist. He's a Philadelphia lawyer who couldn't get into the best law schools or the best firms. He's working on a nearly hopeless civil suit, and the main thing he has going for him is stubbornness....he just refuses to give up. The investigator character is wonderful. He's given a golden opportunity and catches on sooner ...more
Feb 18, 2016 Laura rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I liked this book but didn't love it. It was a bit dated having been published in the 80's I think - long before the electronic age, so looking or payphones was a bit archaic, but it was really fun having been placed in Philadelphia, as there were so many references to places and streets, etc. that were so familiar....even if some of them no longer exist! The plot was ordinary, and it seemed to plod along, but it was still a good read. I must admit though, I was glad when it was finished and I c ...more
Lorin Cary
Apr 15, 2010 Lorin Cary rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Okay, so it's a legal thriller and not necessarily a literary masterpiece. And, okay, so maybe part way into it I wondered if I was going to finish it. But the truth was, Lashner had me hooked. I cared about Victor Carl. Which is one of the fundamental things a good writer has to do, that and create a good plot, that and be a good story teller. Lashner succeeds at each of these elements. And, he writes well. I look forward to more good reads from this author.
Deb Mj
Apr 06, 2010 Deb Mj rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Great book set in Philadelphia. I know so many of these locations and many of the real-life names dropped in the book, so I especially enjoyed that. I despised the Veronica character and Victor's obsession with her, even though both are integral to the book. I knew she had to be there to carry the plot, but I didn't like having to read her story. Probably the only reason this didn't earn a 5 star rating from me. I'll definitely look for the next book in the series.
Feb 12, 2016 Deb rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Hadn't read Lashner in a while though he's on my favorite author list. So glad I reacquainted myself. This was a delight to read. Victor Carl is a great character with the right amount of wise-cracking dialogue. Terrific descriptions of Philadelphia and environs though sad to know so many of the places are no longer there. If you like courtroom drama, whodunits with lots of twists, you should enjoy Hostile Witness.
Robert Bacal
Jul 07, 2014 Robert Bacal rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
If you are looking for a fast paced legal thriller this probably won't be for you. It's different, full of flawed characters, a complex plot, and a writing style some will find a bit tedious. Not me. It's hard to find legal fiction that isn't the same old thing, and this is different.

Savor the words, and the writing, but this is a long book, longer than some would care for. Worth reading.
Gail Williams
Mar 21, 2016 Gail Williams rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Characters stand out.

I found myself wanting to pick up this story and read it whenever I had a free moment. The characters were developed in the sense you want to see them again. The protagonist in the story was so flawed, but somehow you find yourself rooting for him. An excellent read.
Feb 22, 2014 Ce rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Love this book not as a grand work but the writer is very clever and its filled with remarkable insight, things I know but would never articulate as he has. Its a learning experience in little surprising pieces. Witty and raunchy and very interesting with meat on its bones. Fab kindle price. Im hooked.
Aug 02, 2013 Hereswhatsgoingon rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
What a great read! William Lashner painted a vivid picture of a man sitting on the outside looking in at Philadelphia society, and his wrestling with his own conscience. It was an action packed story, with a great plot and well defined characters. Wow, I can't wait to read the rest of the Victor Carl series.
Medalee Molloy
the first of a series about a struggling lawyer. His thoughts and actions regarding his greed which is usually followed by complete immersion in the cases and then altruistic actions. A great complex character.
Mar 17, 2014 Liz rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
It was .... fine. I'd heard of the Victor Carl series by Lashner and I wanted to start at the beginning. It was sort of needlessly complex, and I didn't think some of it was believable. But it kept me reading and I'll probably pick up another of Lashner's books at some point.
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William Lashner, a former Philadelphia lawyer, is a graduate of New York University Law School and the University of Iowa Writers' Workshop. He has served as trial attorney in the Criminal Division of the United States Justice Department. He lives with his family outside of Philadelphia.

Under the pseudonym Tyler Knox he wrote the noir novel, Kockroach.

* Victor Carl Mystery
More about William Lashner...

Other Books in the Series

Victor Carl (9 books)
  • Veritas (Victor Carl, #2)
  • Fatal Flaw (Victor Carl, #3)
  • Past Due (Victor Carl, #4)
  • Falls the Shadow (Victor Carl, #5)
  • Marked Man (Victor Carl, #6)
  • A Killer's Kiss (Victor Carl, #7)
  • A Bite of Strawberry (Victor Carl, #7.5)
  • Bagmen

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“There was something so wrong here, and not just the idea that I was for sale. I knew what I was, knew it in my pained heart: I was small-time. There are those in the world destined to be names, those who might fight their way to near namehood, and those, like myself, who would give it all up for a handful of change. And that’s what troubled me here. I wasn’t being offered a handful of change, I was being offered everything. The price was far too high. Play ball and your dreams will all come true could only mean that playing ball involved something bigger and dirtier than I could now imagine. Dreams don’t come true on the cheap.” 0 likes
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