The  Defense - Steve Cavanagh

Eddie Flynn is a con artist who went legit -- mostly. There's a lot of call in his new life for the skills he developed in his old. He'd been pretty successful until a horrible outcome tied to his last case sent Eddie around the bend -- he'd vowed never to get back into the courtroom. He just couldn't handle anything like what had happened again. Until the head of the Russian mob in New York is up on murder charges.


So what brings Eddie back to defending accused criminals? Well, it's that old story that we've all heard a million times -- he's abducted by the Russian mafia, had a bomb thrown on to him and the only way that keeps that from blowing up is his continued compliance -- but that's not all: Eddie's daughter has also been kidnapped and his being held hostage. All Eddie has to do is keep the case going long enough for the Prosecution to bring out its big witness from protective custody so that the bomb Eddie's carrying can be used to kill the witness.


Not a plan Eddie's crazy about, but it's not like anyone consulted him. He dives into the defense like his life depends on it (oh, wait . . . ), and comes to a couple of conclusions: 1. He and his daughter are not going to live, no matter what the kidnappers said -- unless he pulls a rabbit out of a hat; 2. there's something strange going on with the case that just doesn't make any sense; 3. there's something strange going on with his client's men; and 4. he just might know how to win the case without anyone having to be blown up.


While we see Eddie's efforts to defend his client and to get freedom for himself and his daughter, we also get flashbacks to the calamity of the previous year, Eddie's childhood and criminal career, his relationship with his daughter and more. Cavanagh handles the balancing act between the background and the ongoing action well -- the past informing and shaping the present, while keeping things tense for the now. How Cavanagh pulls that off in 300 pages, I'll never know. And it is tense throughout -- Eddie barely gets a chance to breathe, it's a good thing he has a lifetime of thinking quickly on his feet, or there'd be no hope for him.


I liked Eddie almost immediately -- you have to, or you're not going to enjoy this book. He's one part Mickey Haller, one part Andy Carpenter, one part Nicholas Fox -- a slick, clever and tough lawyer, basically. His friends were interesting and his opponents were just what you want in antagonists. There was real threat, real peril throughout, yet you always knew that Eddie Flynn had a trick or five up his sleeve.


The last chapter felt more like the wrap-up of a stand-alone thriller than it did the first novel in a series. Not that it precluded further adventures, it just didn't point to them the way series generally do, but clearly Cavanagh didn't let that stop him -- book 3 comes out in a couple of weeks. I'm looking forward to spending more time with Eddie soon, myself.