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Wednesday, 2 March 2016

‘The Defence’ by Steve Cavanagh

Published by Orion,
11 February 2016.
ISBN: 978-1-4091-5231-6 (PB)

If you’re a fan of courtroom thrillers, you’ll be familiar with the work of John Grisham, Scott Turow, Mark Gimenez and others, and you’ll know about the gambits, stunts and verbal gymnastics defence lawyers sometimes pull to make sure their clients walk free.

But you won’t have encountered a lawyer quite like Eddie Flynn. Eddie knows quite a lot about gambits and stunts, and verbal gymnastics too; before taking to the law, he made his living as a hustler and conman. So when he’s hired to get the head of the Russian Mafia off a cast-iron murder charge, he has a few tricks up his sleeve – sometimes literally. Though maybe hired isn’t quite accurate. The Mafia have hung a bomb on Eddie’s back and kidnapped his ten-year-old daughter; the only fee he’s working for is both their lives.

The Defence is Steve Cavanagh’s debut novel, and a courtroom thriller unlike any you’ve read before. Until I read it, I never realized how much street-smart hustling and trial law have in common. It all takes place over forty-eight hours, hardly moves outside the courthouse, and it’s never clear almost to the end who is conning who, or which double-cross will come out on top. To outwit a smart and streetwise opponent who gives nothing away, Eddie needs every skill he has ever learned, legal and not so much so, and the help of friends on both sides of the law.

The scenario plays out like a high-octane movie; there’s even a nail-biting escape down the outside of the building, and a motor-bike chase through the hectic Manhattan traffic, and the everyday tumult of New York serves as a background to it all.

In the courthouse we meet sharp lawyers, sharper villains, cops, security men and officials, all distinct and memorable. As we move from courtroom to conference suite, then briefly outside the building and into a Mafia stronghold and back again, there are more villains, but these are on our side. Confused yet? I was. But fear not and keep reading; it all untangles before the end.

Through it all the tension level never drops, from the dramatic opening scene to the spectacular final showdown. The Defence is a page-turner par excellence, and Eddie Flynn is an engaging rogue, and a lawyer like no other. I hope we see more of him.
Reviewer: Lynne Patrick

Steve Cavanagh was born and raised in Belfast, Northern Ireland. At 18 he moved to Dublin and studied Law, by mistake. Steve had a choice of degree courses at College, either Business & Marketing or Law. He decided to enrol for Business & Marketing, but he got the course timetables mixed up and ended up registering for Law.
“Essentially, I became a lawyer because I joined the wrong queue that day. I suppose it was fate, if you believe in that kind of thing.”
After completing his degree in Dublin, he moved to Cardiff where he undertook a post-graduate studies in Law. Around this time, when Steve was in his early twenties he began to write Screenplays, but after a short while he decided to give up writing completely and focus on his legal career. He then returned to Belfast where he landed a job as an investigator for a large law firm. During his time at the firm Steve worked on a wide range of cases – everything from road traffic collisions and accidents at work to catastrophic incidents.
He went on to qualify as a solicitor at the firm and gained valuable experience as a litigator representing some of the largest insurance companies in the world.
Steve currently practices in the fields of Discrimination Law, Employment Law, Personal Injury Law and Judicial Review. He holds a certificate in Advanced Advocacy jointly awarded by the Law Society of Northern Ireland and the National Institute of Trial Advocacy in Boulder, Colorado. In 2011 Steve was appointed to the Labour Relations Agency’s panel of Arbitrators and Independent Appeal Chairmen by the Northern Ireland Department of Employment and Learning. As well as practicing law, he often lectures on various legal subjects (but really he just likes to tell jokes).
In 2011, he began writing again in the hope of fulfilling a life-long ambition to publish a novel. His debut novel, The Defence, is the first in a new, US-based legal thriller series featuring Eddie Flynn, former con-artist turned trial lawyer.
Steve is married to Tracy, they live in Northern Ireland with their two young children and a rescue dog, called Lolly, who keeps Steve company during those long nights at the writing desk.

Lynne Patrick has been a writer ever since she could pick up a pen, and has enjoyed success with short stories, reviews and feature journalism, but never, alas, with a novel. She crossed to the dark side to become a publisher for a few years, and is proud to have launched several careers which are now burgeoning. She lives on the edge of rural Derbyshire in a house groaning with books, about half of them crime fiction.

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