The Defence

Written by Steve Cavanagh

Review written by Bob Cartwright

The Defence
Orion Publishing
RRP: £7.99
Released: February 11 2016

Imagine you’re what some term, a shyster of a New York lawyer minding your own business, taking a piss after a breakfast at your favorite diner. Your law firm has gone down the tubes, thanks largely to your ex-partner who proved even more corrupt than you were. Your response was to hit the cough mixture with a vengeance, or was that one of the causes for the collapse? Either way, you’ve split with your wife, and the daughter you adore. Can your life get any worse? Sure it can. You can feel something akin to a gun in your back, and hear a Russian voice, fully equipped with a very Russian bulky build, and a badly-scarred face, telling you to do what you are told,  and no harm will come to you. But can you believe him?

Well you would have to be pretty gullible if you did, and our hero, Eddie Flynn has found from long experience that Naive and New York don’t mix. And what’s the reward for doing what the Russian wants? He might let you live, though that doesn’t really sound like too much of an option. And he might spare your daughter, who he has taken as added insurance that you play ball. So what’s the deal? The deal is you get his boss, the head honcho of the Russian mafia in New York, off a murder charge. The problem is that it is not your legal expertise they are after but rather your capacity to bluff your way through the court-room security system with a bomb under your jacket. At the point where the prosecution’s main witness rises to give the evidence that will send the mafia boss to a lengthy goal term, you are meant to take off the jacket so the bomb can be detonated. Goodbye, witness as the mafia boss makes his bid for freedom. Maybe, then Eddie will survive, and maybe his daughter will be released. But you wouldn’t get great odds on that.

But then again, Eddie is the son of a street-wise New York hustler who passed on some of his expertise to his son before falling victim to cancer, and the unscrupulous health insurance industry. So Eddie is no pushover, and has a range of skills and guile that almost rivals Jack Reacher.  On top of these skills, he is no mean operator when it comes to courtroom maneuverings. Armed with a mixture of legitimate and illegitimate skills, Eddie sets about planning for this case.

Although not a particularly sympathetic character, you soon find yourself on Eddies’ side, hoping that he can find a way out of this difficult predicament. This is testament to the strong character development which Steve Cavanagh brings to his hero, and the other characters in this tense court-room narrative.

The Defence, is a very strong debut novel backed by a publisher with a solid reputation for picking promising crime fiction authors. And there is a strong chance that Orion Publishing have discovered another winner in the form of Steve Cavanagh.  If [like me] you are a bit wary of the often claustrophobic procedures of courtroom dramas, don’t let that put you off Cavanagh’s debut. The scintillating legal exchanges are more than eclipsed by what goes on outside the court.

As a bonus Eddie Flynn’s next thriller, The Plea, is also published shortly so there is very little wait for his next work. 

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