I came across Irish author Steve Cavanagh’s name last year when his 2019 novel Thirteen won Crime Novel of the Year at Theakston’s Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival (which – incidentally – I’ve fantasised about attending someday). He was also touring with a number of other authors I knew so I kept seeing him on social media again and again.
It wasn’t until later I realised I’d actually read one of his books – The Liar in 2017 – which I really enjoyed. And of course I heard (only) fabulous things about Thirteen, and though I’ve not read it I really must. More so now I’ve read the fifth in the series featuring Eddie Flynn, Fifty Fifty.
I mention in my review of The Liar that it’s only when I read a legal procedural that I’m reminded how much I enjoy them. I’m also reminded that though once they were a dime a dozen and they’re now as rare as hen’s teeth. (Apologies for the idioms but you get what I mean….)
by Steve Cavanagh
Series: Eddie Flynn #5
Published by Orion
Source: Hachette Australia
Genres: Crime Fiction, Legal Procedural
Alexandra Avellino has just found her father's mutilated body, and needs the police right away. She believes her sister killed him, and that she is still in the house with a knife.
Sofia Avellino has just found her father's mutilated body and needs the police right away. She believes her sister, Alexandra did it, and that she is still in the house, locked in the bathroom.
Both women are to go on trial at the same time. A joint trial in front of one jury.
But one of these women is lying. One of them is a murderer. Sitting in a jail cell, about to go on trial with her sister for murder, you might think that this is the last place she expected to be.
You'd be wrong.
This book unfolds from Eddie’s point-of-view. Predominantly. It’s interspersed however with chapters narrated by ‘She’ – the killer. Initially I was wishing Cavanagh hadn’t been so obvious in the ‘She’ chapters as I thought the book would have benefited from some random murderer, someone from left field – both sisters thinking the other did it but neither actually being guilty! I thought that would have been the genius idea, but the narrator is certainly one of the sisters. The question of course is which one.
Sofia and Alex hate each other and we learn their mother was emotionally and physically abusive, until her (ahem) timely demise down a set of stairs. The sisters went to separate boarding schools and have had little to do with each other in intervening years. They see their father, but only when the know the other won’t be there.
Cavanagh very cleverly sets up the she said / she said scenario, initially through the 911 call to the police.
Sofia is the underdog from the beginning. Her sister Alex is the more successful of the two while Sofia has a history of alcohol and drug abuse. Alex hires an expensive legal team, though it’s satisfying to we readers that the young woman working there takes on her lecherous boss and conniving colleague.
Kate is eminently likeable and I was happy she plays a larger role than initially expected. She’s not ridiculously ambitious but when reminded her parents sacrificed a lot for her to study law she’s more ruthless than usual. And here she’s ably assisted by her childhood friend (an ex-police officer) as her investigator.
Eddie’s representing Sofia who he believes to be innocent. Of course he’s a lawyer with a conscience, though happy to bend the rules. He’s more interested in justice than ethics and in right over wrong. Even here he’s determined that the right sister should pay. No matter which it is. It’s obvious there’s some game playing and he’s determined not to let a murderer get away.
This is an easy four stars from me, possibly more. I loved Cavanagh’s easy and engaging style of writing. He keeps us guessing until the very end and though he cares about his characters, he’s surprisingly merciless at the same time.
Fifty Fifty by Steve Cavanagh will be published in Australia by Hachette on 25 February 2020.
I received a copy of this book from the publisher for review purposes.