In Lashner’s eighth Victor Carl mystery, Bagmen: A Victor Carl Novel, the down-on-his-luck lawyer agrees to serve as a bagman for a corrupt politician.
What did you like about being a federal prosecutor?
Being a prosecutor is the greatest job in America. When done right, the role is not about stats or publicity, but helping the innocent and going after the guilty. What other job, excluding superhero, has Do Justice as its primary job description? I loved that role, and in my crime fiction there’s always someone trying to fill it.
Such as Victor Carl?
Victor often doesn’t follow the legal niceties, but in the end, despite himself, he’s looking to do justice. The challenge for him, and for the rest of us of course, is figuring out what that means.
If Victor is such a clever, able lawyer, why is he such a loser?
I don’t think he’s a loser; he just hasn’t achieved the level of what society considers success that would make him feel better about himself. The thing about Victor is that he’s a master of self-sabotage. He wants to be a hard-edged man of the world, stepping on heads in his climb to the heights, but really, whenever the choice is between reaching high for the gold ring or stooping down to help some lost soul, Victor stoops. And the ring goes unclaimed. And he hates himself for his weakness. And he swears he’ll get that ring the next time. And then it happens again.
How do you avoid the book’s ample humor from blunting your character’s anger or the humor from drowning the anger?
I’ve always thought humor and anger are two sides of the same coin. Humor is serious business, and I like jokes with bite, which means there must be some anger mixed in. The balance is the key, but Victor doesn’t do good-natured jolly humor. Even his puns have teeth.
What are your future plans for Victor?
The whole series is about his flailing attempts to figure out his own moral code. It’s a trial-and-error sort of thing—emphasis on the error—and each story helps him formulate another precept or two. For him, his code is a series of lines he hopes he can cross in his never-ending quest for success and sex, and then realizes he can’t. There are always more lines to draw.
What do your readers wish for Victor?
They want him to grow in more traditional ways, get a better job, a girlfriend, a wife, better suits, maybe a gym membership. My readers are good souls and they all want Victor to be fat and happy, but that would probably be the worst thing for Victor, both as a character and as a man.