The Defence by Steve Cavanagh

the defenceTick, tick, tick…

😀 😀 😀 😀

It’s been a year since lawyer Eddie Flynn last stepped into a courtroom, but he has no choice when the head of the Russian mafia makes him an offer he can’t refuse. With a bomb strapped to his back and his young daughter being held hostage, Eddie has to make sure Olek Volchek beats the murder rap he’s facing, or else. And he only has 48 hours to do it in.

Eddie used to be a conman before he became a lawyer, and found that the skills of his earlier profession translated well to his new career. But a year before the book begins, a case went badly wrong, and Eddie was plunged into a downward spiral of drunkenness that led to him losing his family. After undergoing rehab, he’s now dry(ish) and getting back on track, but the events of the past still haunt him. The sub-plot of the case that drove him away from the law runs in parallel with the main story and provides a bit of background to Eddie’s character.

The baddies are the stuff of caricature, evil monsters who will go to any lengths to protect themselves. Fortunately they’re also pretty thick, giving Eddie the chance to try to con his way out of the situation. An added bonus is that the judge, prosecutor and state witnesses are frankly rather sub-standard, allowing Eddie to manipulate them to help damage their own case. And it’s good that Eddie also happens to have the physical powers of a low-grade superhero, a common feature of the ‘ordinary’ guys who find themselves in the plots of thrillers. But Eddie is a likeable character, and the first-person past tense narrative allows us to follow his thought processes (though he occasionally keeps stuff back to help build the tension). Underneath his problems, he’s a good guy who loves his family and would do anything to save his daughter, and his chequered past has given him the kind of friends that come in useful when tackling the mafia. (I’d love to have a friend called Jimmy the Hat, wouldn’t you? Apparently he’s called that because he wears a hat! Who’d have thought it?)

Steve Cavanagh
Steve Cavanagh

This is described as a legal thriller and the publisher compares it to John Grisham, but I feel it would be more accurate to describe it simply as a thriller, since the legal side of it takes a back seat to the action-man stuff in the end, and I’d be more inclined to compare it to Harlan Coben in style. It’s marginally less believable than Santa Claus (sorry, kids!) but good fun – well-written, fast-paced and with plenty of twists to keep those pages turning, all leading up to an explosive climax. There’s a lot of violence, but it’s not graphically described, and thrillingly there’s pretty much zero foul language and no sex scenes! Who knew you could write a good book without those ingredients, eh? Overall it’s a very good debut that augurs well for the future, and I’ll certainly be looking out for Steve Cavanagh’s next book. Highly enjoyable!

NB This book was provided for review by the publisher, Orion Publishing Group.

Amazon UK Link
Amazon US Link

29 thoughts on “The Defence by Steve Cavanagh

  1. No swearing, no graphic descriptions of violence, no sex scenes – has the man fallen through a time (or perhaps a taste)- warp? Good stuff!

  2. Eddie used to be a conman before he became a lawyer, and found that the skills of his earlier profession translated well to his new career. That sentence is priceless, FictionFan!! Absolutely priceless! 😆 – As I read your review, I was also thinking that it shows something important. There are novels that can simply be ‘fun rides,’ even if they aren’t particularly believable. I’m generally one who likes to carry my disbelief with me wherever I go, but every once in so often, it can be fun to let it take a rest.

    • Haha! One of my more cynical sentences perhaps! 😉

      Yes, I love the occasional action thriller – pure escapism! And I’m always willing to suspend my disbelief more for them than for straight crime novels. The idea of guys who’ve never crossed the line before suddenly being able to jump from rooftops and tackle armed mafiosa is so ridiculous, you have to be willing to just go along for the ride… 😀

  3. Like you I found this book a bundle of fun – the cons were fairly straightforward and as you say the villains pretty thick but because of the writing style and pace I was able to suspend belief for this one.

    • I do enjoy an occasional straightforward thriller and this one was fun! There’s nothing quite like a battle between the Russian Mafia and the Italian Mafia to brighten things up! Trying to avoid spoilers, but I loved the bit in the car when they showed him what was in the bag!!! Ouch!

  4. Now that’s a cool cover–all those words, you know. It’s grabbing.

    Jimmy the Hat! That’s a great name. What sort of hat did he wear?

    Glad to hear, too, that Eddie new some moves! Was he vicious?

  5. I’d also like a friend called Jimmy the Hat. I’d even take a Jimmy the Scarf.
    Your review made me chuckle. 🙂 I like a legal thriller. But many are way too grim. This one sounds fun.

    • Haha! Though Jimmy the Earmuffs might be pushing it… 😉

      I really prefer fairly light-hearted thrillers myself – the occasional more serious one can be good, but sometimes they’re just too graphic and bleak for my taste.

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