Steve Cavanagh’s novel The Defence is his debut one but the writing is so accomplished and the pacing is so gripping that you’d be convinced that he was a highly-decorated and published author. While Cavanagh has written things in his spare time before, the main way he has earned a crust has been as a lawyer. But The Defence is much more than your average courtroom drama and thankfully there is not a single piece of legalese in sight.
The story is about Eddie Flynn, a con artist with extensive ties around New York and a hustler who has built a name and a reputation for defrauding insurance companies with elaborate scams. One day he decided to go straight and became a lawyer. The book opens with Flynn being abducted by the Russian mafia because their leader, Olek Volchek, is on trial for murdering a member of the Italian mafia. The Russians want Flynn to smuggle a bomb into court in order to take out the prosecution’s star witness otherwise the gang have threatened to kill Flynn and his 10-year-old daughter.
This novel is a tense and energetic nail-biter that is easy-to-read and is absolutely gripping. The reader is privileged to learn a lot about Flynn thanks to some rich and detailed characterisation as well as the character offering his own point of view and thinking things through as he improvises and acts on the fly while trying to win an impossible case and save his kid. The writing is so direct, to the point and is completely lacking in clichés. The only downside here is that there are some occasions where the reader will have to suspend their disbelief but these points are so few and far between and are outweighed by many electric, spell-binding and edge-of-your-seat-style moments.
The Defence is a clever book full of twists, turns, lies, deception, loyalty and betrayal. This ticking time bomb is a real page-turner and it’s an absolute joy to watch this smooth operator perform and employ his tactics in the ultimate battle of wits. This novel is an exciting and masterful debut from a very promising author, indeed.
***Please note: a free copy of this book was given to the writer through a The Reading Room giveaway. To read the original review on that website please visit: https://www.thereadingroom.com/book/the-defence/9262887