Wednesday, February 20, 2019

Review of The Defence by Steve Cavanagh (2015, Orion)

Eddie Flynn used to be a con artist and hustler before he went to law school and became a lawyer. Then one of his defendants destroyed his faith in his practice, he hit the bottle, and his marriage broke up. Eddie thinks he’s given up being a lawyer, but the head of the Russian Mob in New York thinks differently. His henchmen bundle Eddie into the back of a limo, strap a bomb to his back, tell him they are holding his ten-year old daughter hostage, and that he has 36 hours to beat a murder charge or he and his daughter are dead. Not long after he’s trying to bypass security into the courts building and familiarize himself with several thousand pages of documents before Olek Volchek’s trial starts. All his has to do is persuade the jury to acquit the accused when the all the evidence points towards guilt. For Eddie there was never much difference between being a hustler and a lawyer and now he’s going to test his theory in the highest stakes trial of his career.

The Defence is the first book in the Eddie Flynn legal thriller series. Whereas most legal thrillers concentrate on the tension and games in the courtroom, Cavanagh strays towards a more conventional thriller route as he tussles with senior figures in the Russian mafia in New York. They have strong-armed him into representing the boss, who is on trial for murder, by holding his ten year-old daughter hostage and strapping a bomb to his back as motivation. What they didn’t anticipate, however, is Flynn being a former amateur boxer and being street-savvy from his time as a con artist and hustler before he re-routed himself through law school to become a lawyer. He’s smart, quick witted, light-fingered, and a master at making solid evidence look shaky. He’s also well connected, being a boyhood friend with the present head of an Italian mafia family, and his mentor being a senior judge who served in Vietnam. The Russians might have very strong leverage, and the the FBI might be determined to convict their suspect, but Flynn has the motivation of saving his daughter and he’ll do anything to avoid her death. What transpires is a courtroom drama meets Die Hard, with escapades, hustles, crosses and double-crosses, mind games, and bust-ups up-and-down the court building and surrounding streets. The plot holds together, despite creaking under the weight of many plot devices and events that stretch credibility, and Cavanagh keeps the action moving and tension high throughout. The result is an entertaining thriller that is crying out for a movie adaptation or TV series.

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