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banks, law, lawyers, murder, fraud, serial killer, estate administration, love, forgiveness, suspense novels about lawyers, murder mystery, The Osgoode Trilogy.

Toronto lawyer

BANKS ARE NOT YOUR FRIENDS, by Harry Jenkins
Of course, you’ve seen all the commercials which the banks inflict on the unwary! I know, you’ll think that’s a fine thing for a lawyer to say! But they portray themselves as your friends—your life partners. God help you if you’re in a tight spot and need to re-negotiate. Do I sound too extreme in my opinions? Meet the assistant manager, Mr. Mudhali, greatly impressed with his own self-importance and decide for yourself. Smiling faces lead you into the valley of debt but if you’re in arrears those faces will darken and demand full payment. My deceased law partner, Richard Crawford, left me a nasty surprise. Read on…

From Conduct in Question, the first in The Osgoode Trilogy Chapter 3

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The Toronto-Royal

Inside the Toronto Royal, Harry took his place in the single line before the wickets. Miss Priverts the head teller, pursed her lips when she spotted Harry.

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Miss Priverts

Stepping up to the counter, Harry slid the deposit books across the cool marble countertop and under the brass rail.
In his most soothing tone, he began, “Good afternoon, Miss Privets.” He could not prevent a smile. She really did look like a colorless prune.

“The assistant manager wants to speak with you, Mr. Jenkins.” When she deigned to open the deposit books, her voice trailed off. First she squinted and held the checks at arm’s length, then she adjusted her lamp for closer examination.

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Approaching the teller’s cage.

“I have to speak to Mr. Mudhali,” she began faintly. Snapping shut her cash drawer, she scurried off in search of help.

Clearing his throat, Harry assumed a posture of impatience. He became aware of shifting feet and rustling papers in the line behind him. Lost in a study of the checks, Mr. Mudhali emerged from his office.

“Mr. Jenkins, could I see you, please? In my office.” Harry summoned his slightly frayed dignity and followed the man to the inner recesses of his office.
“Mr. Jenkins.” Mudhali’s tone was formal. “I attempted to reach your partner this week, regarding the firm’s line of credit.”

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Mr. Mudhali

“Mr. Crawford is dead. He had a stroke on Tuesday.”

The man’s eyes widened. “I’m terribly sorry,” mumbled Mudhali. “This does cause a problem. The firm’s line of credit is fifty thousand dollars in arrears. If immediate arrangements are not made…”

In arrears…in arrears. Three months in jail. The words rang out in Harry’s mind.
“What in the hell are you talking about?” he demanded.

Mudhali consulted his file. “Mr. Crawford pledged the firm account as security for a personal line of credit.”

“He can’t do that!”

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Contract

“Do you want to see the accounting?”

“No. I want to see his signature.”

“Certainly, Mr. Jenkins.” He passed a sheet of paper across the desk.

Harry searched, but could not find his reading glasses. He squinted at the document. It sure as hell looked like Richard’s signature. “The bank can’t secure a personal loan against partnership funds,” said Harry, tossing the sheet back at the assistant manager.

Mudhali paled only slightly. His voice remained stubbornly calm. “Our lawyers will have to deal with the issue.”

Harry was on his feet. His hands pressed on the table so hard that his knuckles were white. “This banking relationship is in trouble, Mr. Mudhali.”

“If suitable arrangements are not made,” Mudhali said, lowering his eyes to the checks on the desk, “we will have to freeze the account and refer the matter to the head office.”

“You do that, sir, and I will have you in court faster than—”

Mudhali fingered Harry’s retainer check. “A substantial immediate payment on account would permit me to deposit these checks and avoid such unpleasantness.”

If he hadn’t been so angry, Harry would have laughed. “A bank hold-up? Listen, Mr. Mudhali, my firm has been a customer for more than fifty years.”

“I am not a lawyer, sir, but I understand such legal points take months, if not years to determine in court.”

Considering the complexities of legal partnerships, Harry seethed. Either he went along with the bureaucratic twit (for the moment), or he would be tied up in red tape for months. The Chin retainer would be either uncashed or frozen. 

Harry stood up. His chair screeched backward, smashing against a filing cabinet. Only a tiny amount of the trust money had been earned with the interview of Chin, the instructions, and the title searches. If the deals did not go through, he would have to return most of Mr. Chin’s money.

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The Client

Harry was scrupulous about client funds, and would fret if the bookkeeper missed a penny. Snatching up his check book, he saw in his mind the bright and trusting faces of a hundred clients. He saw those faces turn gray in disbelief when he uncapped his pen. 

Petty triumph gleamed in Mudhali’s eyes.

Despite years of circumspection and care, Harry was driven by a new and reckless fury. Either he made a payment, or the bank would freeze his accounts. Mudhali had nailed him to the wall.

He exploded. “You’ll have payment of half the damned arrears right now!” He scrawled a trust account check for twenty-five thousand dollars to the bank, from Albert Chin’s money.

“Thank you, Mr. Jenkins. However, you do realize that this takes care of only part of the arrears of interest on the loan.”

Harry grew cold. “How much is the loan?” He held his breath.

“Five hundred thousand dollars.”

“Jesus Christ,” Harry breathed. “That loan can’t legally be secured on the firm’s account.” He prayed he was right. Time to read up on partnership law. Otherwise, Crane, Crawford and Jenkins would be dead.

Mr. Mudhali closed the firm’s file. “As I have said, that’s for our legal department to consider, sir.” His expressionless brown eyes disclosed nothing.

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That damned womanizer!

White anger and fear propelled Harry along King Street in record time. That pompous paper-pusher had goaded him into taking twenty-five thousand dollars of the Chin money before he’d earned it. If he couldn’t straighten out Crawford’s mess, he’d be sunk. Damn that womanizer!

Suddenly, he stopped and grinned. Even if the old bastard could secure a personal line of credit on partnership funds, his estate would be liable to repay the debt. Dorothy, Crawford’s long-suffering wife, would not be pleased. For a moment, he breathed more easily.

As it turned out, the banking problem was really only a small one in comparison to other matters on my plate such as—finding and stopping a serial killer dubbed the Florist—unearthing a money laundering scheme which involved one of the most prestigious law firms in the city—proving who murdered one of my very best clients, Marjorie Deighton. But, to my amazement, amid all this murder and fraud, I found something else—love, forgiveness and freedom.   

Mary E. Martin is the author of two trilogies: The Osgoode Trilogy, inspired by her many years of law practice; and The Trilogy of Remembrance, set in the glitter and shadows of the art world. Both Trilogies will elevate the reader from the rush and hectic world of today and spin them into realms of yet unimagined intrigue. Be inspired by the newly released and final installment of The Trilogy of Remembrance, Night Crossing.

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