Tag Archives: Courtroom Drama

The Accomplice by Steve Cavanagh

There are only a handful of authors who, when their books are published, I stop whatever I’m reading and crack open their new novel. Steve Cavanagh is one of those authors. When I found out earlier this year that the newest Eddie Flynn courtroom thriller was on the way, I preordered it immediately. The moment it hit my Kindle, I was all in, boots and all. I wrote an overview of the series before on this blog, and I reviewed the book before this one, The Devil’s Advocate, here. But today. I’m all about The Accomplice. For my money, this is my favourite of the series so far. I read the final third of the book when I should have been asleep. I just needed to know how it ended. I expected a twist or three, and boy did I get them. This book, along with all the others in the series, is the veritable definition of ‘page-turner’.

Eddie Flynn is a defence attorney based in New York City. In a past life, he was a boxer and a con-artist supreme, with connections to local organised crime. Getting the opportunity to practice law opened up a whole new world for him, one where he could use the skills from his youth in open court. Throughout the series he goes through a lot. His marriage and family life suffers tremendously; he drinks more than he should; and he faces life and death situations more than any other lawyer or human being should face. But he has a sense of decency, of justice, of right and wrong; and with the support of his adopted ‘family’, he faces each challenge with a zeal that can only come from righteous indignation. That said, Eddie is not against bending the rules or even breaking the law to see justice done.

The Accomplice finds Eddie and his team defending the indefensible, Carrie Miller is the most hated woman in America. She is the wife of Daniel Miller, The Sandman, a serial killer with numerous murders in his wake. Miller kills his victims, mutilates them, removes their eyes and puts sand in the empty sockets and other wounds on the victims’ bodies. These are horrific deaths and TheSandman is undoubtedly a sick and evil killer. When the FBI identify him, Miller goes on the run, leaving his wife Carrie to face charges. Evidence points to the likelihood that she was present for a least half a dozen of the murders. Her attorney, Otto Peltier, is out of his league and now a prosecution witness; so he tasks Carrie’s defence to Eddie, who takes on her case only when he and his team are convinced of her innocence. Eddie will not defend the guilty.

What I truly enjoy about Steve Cavanagh’s series is how each character is integral to the story. Eddie’s partner, Kate Brooks, was introduced a couple of books ago and she is as important to the series as Eddie is. The same goes for Harry Ford, an ex-judge who is Eddie’s long-time friend and mentor, and now acts as a consultant for Eddie and Kate. Melissa Bloch is Eddie’s investigator and Kate’s best friend. She is a force to be reckoned with and is the one person to have at your side when cases become more dangerous. New to this book is Denise, the office manager who I look forward to seeing more of in future instalments. Also new is Gabriel Lake, a former federal agent with a very mysterious past. He tracks serial killers with a zeal that sits awkwardly with his outwardly nerdish demeanour. Lake is fascinating. Whether or not we see more of him is up to Cavanagh.

Every chapter ends on a hook or cliffhanger, leaving readers like me with little choice but to keep going until the final page. When The Sandman takes one of the team hostage, Eddie is on the clock. He must find a way to acquit Carrie of all charges and save his colleague from certain death. The Accomplice is the 24 of courtroom thrillers. Take a seat in the public gallery and prepare to be enthralled, horrified, anxiety-ridden, and hopefully exonerated.

The Eddie Flynn Series by Steve Cavanagh

I was brought up on crime thrillers. Nothing excited me more than watching the good guys catch the bad guys, and getting them put away for murder and fraud. I also enjoyed thrillers where an innocent person needed help to clear their name. I watched old shows like Petrocelli, where a low-key defence attorney who lived in a trailer used his skills and intellect to get his clients cleared of crimes they did not commit. (Occasionally he got it wrong, but he always stuck to the law.)

Modern shows like Law & Order, in all its incarnations, focus on both law enforcement and criminal justice, and are equally compelling in presenting the thrills and spills of the legal system. It’s deeply flawed nationally and internationally, but when it comes to fiction writing, the genre lends itself to providing many, many hours of entertainment. The current HBO show, Perry Mason, is testament to how popular crime and courtroom dramas are and will remain.

Belfast native Steve Cavanagh is a writer who’s currently riding high on the success of a series of electric and exciting novels about New York lawyer Eddie Flynn. To say Eddie is offbeat and eccentric is to do an injustice to a man who uses every trick in the book and under his sleeve to win a case, normally at great cost to himself and those around him. A former con-man and street hustler, Eddie was driven to use his skills in misdirection to help his mother during a medical insurance case.

The first novel proper in the series is The Defence. Eddie’s personal life is a mess, and he’s lost his way in life, but he’s dragged back into court with a bomb strapped to his body, and his daughter’s life in danger. Forced to defend the head of the Russian Mafia in New York, Eddie is in a literal race against time. And did I mention he’s also got a drinking problem? All of this in the first couple of chapters, too. Cavanagh wastes little time on the niceties, and we’re all the better for it. Of course, Eddie realises that no matter what he does, he’s toast, just like his former partner. So he draws on his experience on the streets and in the courtroom, and with the help of a friendly judge, uses the 48 hours he’s been given to turn the tables on his new employers. The book is high-octane, a page turner, and Eddie has always one more trick to play. The pace never lags.

Steve Cavanagh (Credit: Kelly M Photography)

After finishing The Defence, I picked up the other four available books in the series. In The Plea, the FBI and CIA blackmail Eddie into defending a client who’s been accused of murdering his girlfriend. The agencies want Eddie to get the accused man to admit his guilt and take a plea. But Eddie knows there’s more going on. In order to protect his estranged wife, who’s unknowingly tied to a money laundering scheme, he has to go head-to-head with a highly ambitious district attorney who looks down on Eddie as being unworthy of his time. This is another excellent thriller, and Cavanagh lays on the surprises and twists with dexterity.

The Liar continues the trend, with another serpentine story involving Eddie defending an acquaintance from his younger days who’s been charged with the kidnapping and murder of his own daughter. Convinced of his friend’s innocence, Eddie works the case while also helping out the friendly judge, Harry Ford, whose career is in jeopardy due to another lawyer who has demanded the release of casework on a trial the judge was working on. The Liar introduces Agent Harper of the FBI, who eventually works side-by-side with Eddie as the twists come chapter after chapter. Both plots are connected and Eddie and co. have to find out how.

My persona favourite of the series is Thirteen. Eddie is at the centre of the celebrity murder trial of the century. Bobbie Solomon, a movie star, is charged with the murders of his wife and security guard, and Eddie takes on his defence. The twist in this book is that a serial killer, known only as Kane, has found their way onto the jury. This is a premise that can only come from the mind of Steve Cavanagh. There are echoes, however faint, of John Grisham here, but Cavanagh takes his level of plotting to another universe. He mixes the chapters with first person narrative from Eddie himself, and the sinister voice of the killer. The clues as to who this person is are laid out throughout the book, so that when the big reveal comes, we’re not tricked. Bamboozled, stunned, yes; but not taken for fools. Thirteen is glorious.

The last (for now) is Fifty-Fifty, the premise of which is deceptively simple. Two sisters, Alexandra and Sofia Avellino, are accused of the murder of their father. Each blames the other for the crime. At the centre is a $44,000,000 inheritance. The sister found innocent will get the lot. The other goes to prison for life. Eddie represents Sofia, while another lawyer, Kate Brooks represents Alexandra. As in the previous novel, the guilty party, ‘She’, gets chapters to herself. So which of the two lawyers is on the winning side? Cavanagh once again piles layers upon layers of twists, surprises, intrigues, and a shocking death midway through adds to the punchy storyline.

I am in awe of Steve Cavanagh. From the first book till now, with a new one due out hopefully this year, I haven’t read anything near as compulsive and propulsive as the Eddie Flynn novels. He leaves the likes of Grisham and co. for dust.