Book review: The Devil’s Advocate by Steve Cavanagh

Saturday, July 24, 2021 Permalink

I’ve only read a couple of Steve Cavanagh’s Eddie Flynn novels in the past and always reflect on how I miss the golden days of the legal procedural.

Cavanagh manages to easily traverse the balance between the mystery / crime solving element and showcasing the (both) boring and enterprising foibles of the justice system. He’s also created very likeable characters in the ensemble cast supporting Eddie and – in some ways – I find myself drawn as much to them as I do to the former con-man turned-lawyer.

Book review: The Devil’s Advocate by Steve CavanaghThe Devil’s Advocate
by Steve Cavanagh
Series: Eddie Flynn #6
Published by Orion
on 27/07/2021
Source: Hachette Australia
Genres: Crime Fiction, Legal Procedural
ISBN: 9781409185895
Pages: 403

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.

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.

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.

I commented on this same thing in Fifty Fifty, the last of Cavanagh’s novels I reviewed as well. I’m always uncomfortably challenged when we’re told (up-front) ‘who’ does it. In Fifty Fifty we were offered only two options, and here we’re given most of the information so know the ‘why’ and most of the ‘who’, but not all. It doesn’t stop me reading, but I do confess I miss the opportunity to flex my mind around potential baddies and analysing their actions.

Although there is a complex motivation behind the death of 20 year old Skylar the focus is very much on the process of fighting the case – which I guess is what makes it a legal procedural rather than a thriller. But, labels aside, Cavanagh does a great job at creating a very toxic and frustrating environment for Eddie and his team in Buckstown and – even as a reader – I found my blood pressure skyrocketing at the injustice and ability of local law enforcement players to be above the law with (mostly) no oversight, attention or recompense from someone higher in the justice system.

Even Eddie, (retired judge) Harry and (business partner and fellow lawyer) Kate on a few occasions believe that justice will not be served and that Andy will be convicted of a crime he certainly didn’t commit. The legal system (well, those who serve it) is very much weighted against Andy and his defence team, and the overt perversion of it seems unfathomable. I mean, I’m not naive enough to believe those working in law enforcement are squeaky clean but to have so many (VERY) bad apples in a small batch seems extraordinary.

I mentioned Kate in Fifty Fifty and the fact I was really drawn to her character. Here it’s her friend, the former-cop and now company investigator, Bloch, who was the stand out for me. Though we learn nothing of her backstory – we get a sense of her strong need for justice, her street smarts and incredible perception.

Cavanagh mixes things up as we near the conclusion here. There isn’t one big climax. Rather there’s an unravelling of carefully laid plans and last-minute revelations.

I enjoyed this read but couldn’t help but came away feeling the murder of this young woman had been overly complicated (in both its delivery and motivation) and didn’t entirely make sense. I suspect some of that came down to briefly meeting the likeable Skylar so feeling frustrated by the futility of her death.

The Devil’s Advocate by Steve Cavanagh will be published by Hachette Australia and available in late July 2021.

I received a copy of this book from the publisher for review purposes. 


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