Today I’m sharing my thoughts on The Devil’s Advocate, the latest Eddie Flynn thriller from Steve Cavanagh. I came to this series rather late, but have enjoyed getting to know maverick lawyer Eddie and his colleagues. My thanks to publisher Orion for the early copy of the book for review. Here’s what the book is all about:
About the Book
A DEADLY PROSECUTOR
They call him the King of Death Row. Randal Korn has sent more men to their deaths than any district attorney in the history of the United States.
A TWISTED RITUALISTIC KILLING
When a young woman, Skylar Edwards, is found murdered in Buckstown, Alabama, a corrupt sheriff arrests the last person to see her alive, Andy Dubois. It doesn’t seem to matter to anyone that Andy is innocent.
A SMALL TOWN BOILING WITH RAGE
Everyone in Buckstown believes Andy is guilty. He has no hope of a fair trial. And the local defense attorney assigned to represent him has disappeared.
A FORMER CON-ARTIST
Hot shot New York lawyer Eddie Flynn travels south to fight fire with fire. He plans to destroy the prosecutors case, find the real killer and save Andy from the electric chair.
But the murders are just beginning.
Is Eddie Flynn next?
This author knows how to start a book. After the shocks and about turns of the previous book in the series, you kind of had to wonder how he could top it. Quite easily as it turns out with a story that is scarily plausible, really on topic and about as closely aligned to recent socio-political commentary as you could hope to get without losing any of the tension, thrills and dark humour you expect from Eddie Flynn and co. Set in Alabama, the case pulls Eddie Flynn as far from his native New York as you could ever imagine, not just physically, but also politically and sees him do what he does best – fight for the underdog, in this case a young man who stands accused of the murder of a popular local woman. Nothing unusual there – it’s really a signature case for Eddie – but this time the stakes are as high as they come. Alabama is a death penalty state and the DA is a record breaker. If Eddie loses, then it could mean his client’s life.
What I like about these books is that there is never any doubt in anyone’s mind over the client’s innocence or guilt. Eddie only defends people he believes are innocent and worth fighting for, and he knows from experience the personal costs of getting things wrong. In the case of this book, we know pretty early on that there is far more than meets the eye about Skylar’s murder, we are present right up to the moment her fate is sealed. I was confident who the guilty party wasn’t but had no idea as to who they were, the clues being drop fed throughout the story, but still being warped and twisted due to the fact that it feels like nobody in Buckstown can be trusted. The lines are drawn early on, the stink of corruption and a kind of resident evil, permeating the action and the tension, and anger, are off the charts. If felt like nobody could be trusted, and whilst the circumstance may have seemed extreme, they had an almost depressing sense of realism. We’ve all witness the escalating racial tensions in America, seen the racist factions growing in number and in voice, and that is exactly what is brought to the fore here, in scarily believable drama.
This could be a very dark story with a very dark ending, but character really is key and when it comes to bringing a trial to life, Eddie flynn really is in a class of his own. He never plays things completely straight, always acting in the best interest of his clients, of course, but willing to push the boundaries of professionalism on occasion, especially if it gets him the result he wants, even better if it unsettles his opponents. He is straight talking, sarcastic, the king of sleight of hand, and very astute. His moral code is unshakable, and he feels the weight of responsibility for his friends and, especially this time, his client. He’s a fantastic character, and with a good portion of the story told in his voice, it’s just as well it’s a pleasure to spend time in his company.
But great as he is, Eddie doesn’t work alone and the whole team join him on his excursion. Whilst Harry and Kate are great characters who really hold their own in very testing circumstances, for me Bloch was a bit of a revelation in this book. She might be quiet but she’s still commands attention and her stillness is almost unnerving. It’s nice to see a really strong, but still slightly emotional, female character portrayed so well, and her no-nonsense nature adds a layer of quiet strength to the team. Definitely someone you want on your side.
Taking Eddie out of the city adds a new dimension to the story. The setting of Alabama adds a level of tension that’s hard to explain – a god fearing, gun loving, historically, very racially divided state. I’m not sure there could have been a better place to set the story. That is not to say that all of the locals have been painted in a negative light and there are many who are willing to step up and be counted when they see corruption in pay, no matter which side of the racial divide they stand on. But it is a kind of tinderbox situation, that small town vibe, the suspicion of big city outsiders, and that undercurrent of extremism that feeds throughout the story which stems from a point of some very thorough research and total authenticity.
Another memorable case which is sure to be a winner amongst fans of the series. It kept the tension, the outrage and the fear high from start to finish.
About the Author
Steve Cavanagh was born and raised in Belfast before leaving for Dublin at the age of eighteen to study Law. He practiced civil rights law and was involved in several high-profile cases; in 2010 he represented a factory worker who suffered racial abuse in the workplace and won the largest award of damages for race discrimination in Northern Ireland legal history.
He holds a certificate in Advanced Advocacy and lectures on various legal subjects (but really he just likes to tell jokes). His novel The Liar won the CWA Gold Dagger award while his follow-up novel Thirteen won the Theakston Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year Award in 2019. Twisted was a Sunday Times Top 10 Bestseller. He is married with two young children.