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THE PLEA by Steve Cavanagh: Book Review

If, hopefully not when, I am arrested for murder, I will hire Eddie Flynn as my attorney.  This former con man turned defense lawyer has more tricks up his sleeve than Houdini ever did, and I would definitely want him sitting next to me at the defense table.

The Plea, the third in the series by Steve Cavanagh, opens as Eddie sees a flashlight moving around what should be his empty law office.  Inside he finds three members of the FBI, including Special Agent Bill Kennedy, searching through his file cabinet.  Then another man enters the office.  He introduces himself as Lester Dell, admitting, after Eddie has guessed it, that he works for the CIA.

Dell tells Eddie that he’s been tracking a group of individuals who are involved in the largest money-laundering scheme in the country.  These men are almost untouchable because of who they are–top attorneys in one of the oldest and most respected law firms in New York City.  And the threat that the agencies are using to convince Eddie to work with them is that Christine Flynn, Eddie’s estranged wife, is an attorney with that firm, and she has unwittingly signed a document that implicates her in the fraud.

The only way out for Christine, Flynn is informed, is for him to take a murder case, get the defendant to fire his current counsel, get himself hired as the new counsel, and have the defendant plead guilty.  Then the FBI and the CIA will make certain the document she signed disappears.  So who is the client and who are his current attorneys?  The client is David Child, a twenty-two-year-old social media wunderkind and one of the richest men in the world, and his lawyers are from Harland and Sinton, the firm where Christine is employed.

To say this puts Flynn in a tough place is to understate his situation.  But things get even worse when David refuses to plead guilty and insists, despite seemingly overwhelming evidence, that he’s innocent of the crime he’s accused of, the murder of his girlfriend.  Therein lies Eddie’s dilemma, having to choose between saving his wife from a jail term and disbarment and forcing his client, whom he comes to believe is innocent, to plead guilty.

The Plea is filled with more twists and turns than a roller coaster and is just as exciting.  Because Eddie was a con man, as was his late father, he always has a plan that can be changed at a moment’s notice when the situation changes.  As Eddie explains it, there are three types of cons:  the short con (which usually takes between five minutes and five seconds to complete), the long con (which requires weeks or months to come to fruition), and the bullet con.  This last one has two explanations.  “I heard old-timers call it a bullet con because it’s launched so quickly–like pulling the trigger,” Eddie thinks.  But it’s also because “if the con fails, the hustler can expect to eat a bullet.”

Steve Cavanagh’s characters are perfect, as is the novel’s plot.  I thought I had caught on after a few false guesses, but I was wrong.  I didn’t see the entire picture/con until the last page.  The Plea is a terrific, suspenseful, and completely satisfying read.

You can read more about Steve Cavanagh at this website.

Check out the complete Marilyn’s Mystery Reads at her website.  In addition to book review posts, there are sections featuring Golden Oldies, Past Masters and Mistresses, and an About Marilyn column that features her opinions about everything to do with mystery novels.


DAISY IN CHAINS by Sharon Bolton: Book Review

Maggie Rose is used to getting requests from convicted killers to help them in their fight for freedom.  Of course they’ve been wrongly imprisoned–isn’t everyone in jail innocent?

Hamish Wolfe is one of those men.  A strikingly handsome man, a successful physician, a gifted athlete, he nonetheless has been convicted of murdering three women and is suspected in the disappearance of a fourth.  Their crimes?  Being fat.

Hamish Wolfe’s mother and a number of his supporters have a website devoted to proclaiming his innocence.  His mother meets Maggie and implores her to look into the case and free Hamish, as she has been able to do with several other men.  In addition to being a defense attorney, or barrister as they are called in England, Maggie is the author of several books recounting the trials of the men she has been able to free.  It’s not that she necessarily thinks each man is innocent but simply that their trials weren’t properly conducted, the evidence was mishandled, or the defending barristers were incompetent.  It doesn’t appear to matter to her that these men are probably, in fact, killers; what’s important is that they were improperly convicted and thus should be freed.

Detective Sergeant Pete Weston has been closely monitoring the Wolfe case, even after its conclusion. He visits Maggie to reiterate his belief that Hamish is indeed guilty and to try to persuade her not to get involved.  Her response?  “…for what it’s worth, I agree with you.  I have no plans to take on his case….If I were to decide to do so, no amount of pressure on your part would put me off.”  It couldn’t be more clear than that, Pete thinks.

But Hamish’s mother and his “fan club” aren’t about to give up.  They become more intrusive in Maggie’s life, there’s a forced entry into her home, and continued mail from Hamish himself asking for her help.  So between her own curiosity and the pressure from those who believe that the prisoner is innocent, Maggie decides she must start her own investigation.  From there it’s a slippery slope, and she is propelled ever faster into the mystery that is Hamish Wolfe.

Daisy in Chains is a taut, suspenseful thriller.  Just like the previous book by Ms. Bolton that I reviewed, Little Black Lies, this mystery grabs you and won’t let go.  Is Hamish Wolfe innocent?  Who is the recipient of the letters he’s writing from jail, the letters that proclaim his undying love?  Does Maggie think he truly is innocent, or is the desire to write another best-selling true-crime book too irresistible to pass up?

Sharon Bolton has written an extraordinary novel, one that will keep you reading far into the night.  You can read more about her at this web site.

Check out the complete Marilyn’s Mystery Reads at her web site.