The Liar - Steve Cavanagh

The Liar - Steve Cavanagh ****

There's one person you don't want to target with if you're a criminal and thinking about kidnapping a child and ransoming her for 10 million bucks. Well, one person apart from former hustler turned lawyer and all-round action hero Eddie Flynn, who rescued his own daughter from the hands of the Russian mafia in Steve Cavanagh's first novel The Defence. Apart from Eddie Flynn though, there's one other person whose child it would be better not to try to kidnap and that's the guy who runs a multinational business operation that specalises in dealing with kidnap and ransom negotiations with everyone from from Somalian pirates to Al Quaeda terrorists and South American crime cartels. Any yet in The Liar, Cavanagh's third Eddie Flynn case, someone has indeed kidnapped the daughter of security businessman Lenny Howell. Something clearly doesn't add up here.

But then if you've read any of Steve Cavanagh's Eddie Flynn books, you'll come across a lot of unexpected situations that you would think any common criminal would never consider, but the elaborate lengths that they go to, the amount of elaborate double-bluffs and twists and turns that need to work for everything to fall into place in a thrilling setup are exactly what you expect to find in one of Cavanagh's books. And what you also expect to find there is Eddie Flynn's quick-thinking, fist-flying, law-bending way of operating to out-smart, out-punch and out-manoeuvre the criminal and the law against nearly impossible odds. The Liar is no different in that respect; it's another non-stop, all-action, jaw-dropping, show-stopping, hold-the-press courtroom mayhem drama from Cavanagh and Eddie Flynn.

Well, maybe slightly different in one respect. Cavanagh's first outing with Flynn in The Defence tried a little too hard to show off all Eddie Flynn's talents at once in a single action-packed thriller. Former hustler and recovering alcoholic, Flynn now not only is a formidable outspoken and maverick bad-boy lawyer with an unusual sense of a decent moral compass, but he's also a prize fighter, an escape-artist, an expert pickpocket who is prepared to bend the rules a bit in order to take out a whole Russian mafia mob to recover his kidnapped daughter at the same time as representing his client in court. Flynn's Houdini act was to return from the dead in The Plea, another drama with his estranged wife's liberty in the balance, but the story had a tighter focus and (marginally) more credible cliff-hanger crime drama. The Liar, Flynn's third full-length outing, is much more focussed on the courtroom drama.

Or at least, it's Flynn's quick-thinking, witness-crushing abilities in the courtroom that are primarily called upon in the case of the People versus Lenny Howell. Flynn has been put on retainer by the security business executive to represent him when he decides to deal with his daughter's ransom demand in his own way. He knows he's going to need representation when he inevitably has to answer for his actions with the FBI and the local law enforcement agencies, but he has no idea just how badly things are going to go wrong. Cavanagh hasn't forgotten about Eddie Flynn's other abilities, and provides has opportunity to put some of his ill-gotten skills to good use, but in The Liar, Eddie Flynn's talents are primarily as counsel for the defence.

You know what to expect in the cut and thrust of such a courtroom drama, and that's to expect the unexpected. You can double that anticipation for Steve Cavanagh's Eddie Flynn series and, obviously allowing for those implausibilities, you won't be disappointed with the delivery. Every short chapter delivers one of Cavanagh's trade-mark cliff-hangers, the jury rocked by the latest shock revelation, Flynn playing fast with the rules, the Prosecution left scrambling for a new strategy, the court in an uproar as testimonies are torn to shreds by new evidence and the opinion of expert witnesses is demolished as worthless. And while all this is going on, Flynn is in a race against time, chasing down suspects, assaulting FBI officers, trying to figure the truth, even if it means lying to get it. I can guarantee you won't put the book down until he gets those answers.

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The Liar by Steve Cavanagh is published by Orion on 18th May 2017

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