15) The Plea by Steve Cavanagh
I think it’s understandable when the entire world feels at sea to reach out for things that are familiar and bring order: for some that is a crossword, for others a film they’ve watched 50 times before, and for others still a crime thriller in which the good guys win and the bad guys lose (pretty much guaranteed). And that is by way of explaining why this is the third crime novel in a row – before I move on to reading ‘First Time Parent’ and ‘The Expectant Father’ (yes, another reason why the world is about to be even more at sea).
I’ve read three Steve Cavanagh novels before – you may remember Thirteen which had the best strap line for a while (“The serial killer isn’t on trial. HE’S ON THE JURY”). This, The Plea, is one in the series featuring conman turned lawyer Eddie Flynn – a man who can steal your gun, replace your wallet and have your expert witness crumble under cross-examination before you’ve finished breakfast.
It is enormous fun – Flynn gets engaged (against his wishes) to defend someone on a murder trial…a someone who happens to be a Zuckerberg-esque social media wunderkind billionaire, being represented by some of the finest money-laundering lawyers you could (n)ever wish to meet. Stir in Flynn’s family being at risk (a recurring theme in the books) and a Mexican drug cartel, and you have a potent and flammable mix. The drug cartel are so scary that their assigned hitman / nasty-piece-of-work has a tattoo of Munch’s The Scream.
The story positively rattles along, with any number of suspend-your-disbelief moments along the way – but it’s fabulously entertaining. Flynn is an incredibly likeable character, and Cavanagh is adept at giving a swift sense of the others around him so that most move beyond caricature or archetype quite quickly. The plot is properly page-turningly propulsive, and I whipped through it in a couple of days – Cavanagh has a great gift for pacing too, as well as a penchant for a great Grisham-esque legal showdown in the courtroom. Escapism box duly checked.