Book Review: Thirteen - Steve Cavanagh

Thirteen - Steve Cavanagh
*****


Continually upping the stakes is something you would have come to expect in Steve Cavanagh's fast moving Eddie Flynn courtroom dramas, but somehow he even manages to raise expectations from book to book and still delivers on them. Somehow he also manages to do that without losing credibility (or at least not stretching it any further than it already is) which considering the nature of the high drama in his books must make each of them a hard act to follow. Thirteen may be unlucky for some, but not for readers of Cavanagh's Eddie Flynn series.

Maybe not so great for Eddie though, for wouldn't you know it, just as he seems to be getting his life, career and family back together after quite a few knocks and setbacks along the way, he gets smashed in the face again; literally and metaphorically. Eddie's quick-thinking actions in the courtroom hasn't gone unnoticed, nor his ability to turn around seemingly impossible trials, pulling out witnesses and exert testimonies like a magician pulling a rabbit out of a hat to gain acquitals for his clients. He's invited to be on the defence team of one of the city's top law firms for what will surely be the biggest case of his life, on what could be the trial of the century. Talk about raising stakes. How is Cavanagh and Flynn going to top this one?

The case he is being asked to defend in Thirteen involves one of the movie industries biggest stars, Bobby Solomon, accused of the murder of his wife and another man at his luxury home. Not only does Eddie get involved in one of the trials of the century (on a par and obviously with parallels to O J Simpson), with the offer of a salary considerably larger than usual for his small-time low-profile cases and the chance of raising his profile, but working with a large law firm brings the chance of regular work away from the dangerous hustling that he is usually involved in. Which means there's a chance that he could get his estranged wife Christine and daughter Amy back.

Away from dangerous hustling? Yeah, like that's going to happen. If Eddie Flynn is involved, that means that there's always violence and danger lurking around the corner and Eddie is the man to go poking around in into the corners of those dark alleys. Obviously in any good criminal investigation thriller there's always going to be a similar conflict between the investigator's career and his personal life, and Steve Cavanagh has pushed that dynamic further than most with the kind of personal danger Eddie Flynn has brought to his wife and daughter. Obviously he has come through for them, but there's only so much a relationship can take, and Cavanagh doesn't push that any further, and Eddie knows he can't risk it either.

Even so, all Eddie's good intentions inevitably count for little, but it's not just his fault. Eddie is fairly certain that his client is not guilty and that the murders are connected to a serial killer known to the FBI as Dollar Bill, but proving it and convicing a jury is another matter. Particularly since it soon becomes apparent - to the reader at least if not yet for Eddie and the defence - that the jury has been rigged. There's a particularly ruthless individual determined not to go to murderous lengths to get on the jury for the Bobby Solomon trial, but prepared to 'remove' any other jurors who might be sympathetic to the movie star and thinking of finding him not guilty. Certainly one of the most dangerous adversaries Eddie has ever come across, the maverick defence lawyer's hopes of settling down to a quiet life are vanishing fast.

Thirteen is not the thirteenth Eddie Flynn book (but let's hope we get to that number sooner rather than later), but rather Cavanagh's fourth outing with his hustler/fighter/con-man/alcoholic turned private investigator/courtroom lawyer (or fifth if you count the Eddie Flynn novella The Cross, which is just as action-packed and thrilling as any of the main books). Cavanagh is a practising lawyer so he knows what he is talking about and even if he's not American, he knows his way around the common processes and procedures well. He doesn't get bogged down in technical details here, but rather in Thirteen he draws attention to the psychology and methods of jury selection which play an important part for any lawyer in a trial.

Before we get to the trial of the century then, Eddie Flynn has to do a lot of dangerous ground-work, making use of the services of a few old friends but also running into a few other people who he has upset in the past, and when I say 'runs into', well Eddie sustains quite a few injuries to his person along the way. It's all part of the service as far as Eddie Flynn is concerned, going the distance and against the odds when he truly believes in his clients. You can imagine that things might not be the same for Eddie after such a case is played out in the full glare of the media, but where that leaves him with his family and career is going to be interesting. I think you could safely say that the stakes have been raised once again in Thirteen, and you wouldn't bet against Steve Cavanagh meeting and surpassing them in the next Eddie Flynn book.



Thirteen (Eddie Flynn Book 4) by Steve Cavanagh is published by Orion and is out in paperback now.

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