The Defense (Eddie Flynn #1), by Steve Cavanagh

Eight stars

Turing my attention to a new series, I wanted to try Steve Cavanagh’s legal thrillers, which have been recommended to be over the years. Eddie Flynn is a lawyer with a sordid past. Having hit the bottle when things were not going well and with a past as a con artist, Flynn has alienated his family and pushed himself close to being disbarred. After he takes over a murder trial for his former partner, Flynn has no idea what he’s agreed to do. Approached by the Russian mafia, Flynn is told that he will smuggle a bomb into the courthouse and plant it on the witness stand so that the prosecution’s witness meets an untimely demise. To help convince the lawyer, Flynn is told that his daughter is in the custody of the Russians, who are happy to kill her if the need arises. With all the pressure put upon him, Flynn tries to find legal loopholes that will allow him to win this case for his client without being implicated in any violent acts. Worried that Amy might still be harmed, Flynn seeks outside help, only to discover that there are moles on both sides at every turn. Walking on eggshells, Flynn advances the case to the point that ‘Witness X’ is set to testify, he who is supposed to be blown up. With Amy not yet safe and the threats mounting, Flynn must decide how to play it all and leave him able to live with himself. An intense legal thriller with twists that will keep the reader wanting to know more! Recommended to those who love legal thrillers, as well as the reader who enjoys seeing the ‘little guy’ fight for parity.

I always enjoy learning about new authors and the series they create that have earned much praise. The debut legal thriller has all the elements needed for a good series, with a lawyer whose luck seems to have run out and a client who refuses to accept anything but an acquittal. Eddie Flynn has a wonderful backstory, a lawyer whose skills are high but personal choices lead much to be desired. Allowing work to take over his life, Flynn alienates those who are most important. When placed in the unenviable position of having to break the law to secure his daughter’s release, there is no question about what he intends on doing. Using his legal skills and gritty personality, Flynn is able to bend the rules, though whether it is to his advantage remains in question. There are other characters who help to keep the story moving effectively. Cavanagh depicts them perfectly and keeps the reader on their toes as plot twists stack up throughout. With a strong story and some great action in the middle of a high-impact thriller, Cavanagh has set the ground for a great series here. I cannot wait to get to the next book, which is sure to add more to the Eddie Flynn backstory.

Kudos, Mr. Cavanagh, for a great start to the series. You have a great handle on the legal thriller genre and I will certainly continue with this series.

A Book for All Seasons, a different sort of Book Challenge: https://www.goodreads.com/group/show/248185-a-book-for-all-seasons

The Defense (Joseph Antonelli #1), by D.W. Buffa

Eight stars

After reading a few of his more recent novels, I chose to go back into the earlier collections of D.W. Buffa. Always a fan of legal thrillers, I knew this series would pull me in quickly. Joseph Antonelli is quite the defence lawyer, citing that he has never lost a case he ought to have won and was victorious many times when he should have been on the losing side. This cocky attitude served him well when he began practicing in Portland, Oregon, but also painted quite the target on his back. When he is approached by a judge to represent a difficult client, Antonelli leaps at the opportunity to serve as a cog in the wheel of justice. His client, Johnny Morel, is accused of raping his step-daughter, though he denies it vehemently. Antonelli must work his magic in order to ensure justice is met, even if he may not trust that his client speaks the truth. As they prepare for trial, Antonelli engages with his client and prepares him for what is to come, no matter how ugly things could get. In a trial that pits the word of a man against that of a pre-teen, the jury must determine where they see the truth, as Antonelli puts on a great display in the courtroom. Armed with the testimony of Morel’s wife—against her own daughter—Antonelli finds his own form of justice. However, this is not the end of the matter. Five years later, Morel is gunned down in cold blood, seemingly by the woman who sought to help exonerate him, adding questions to the truth that came out in court. In a thrilling tale of courtroom drama and personal vendetta, Antonelli must decide where he stands and how Lady Justice will be seduced by those who use her for their own means. A wonderful introduction to this series by Buffa, exploring justice in all its forms and spinning things effectively until the final sentence. Recommended to those who love a well-developed legal thriller with depth and a bite throughout.

While I have read two books by D.W. Buffa that pertain specifically to the American political situation, this exploration of its legal system was just as interesting and quite telling. In this series debut, Buffa seeks to put the law and justice on trial in the court of public opinion, examining how well they work and whether the system can come together effectively to serve those who need it most. Joseph Antonelli proves to be an interesting character, though his personal life is in shambles. Accused of treating his relationships like his cases—always plotting the next one before the current one has come to an end—he seeks a spark without giving much. He is acutely aware of the law and how things work, bending aspects to ensure they work for him when needed. However, he is not without a soul, never able to cheat the system for a client. I am eager to see how he develops throughout this series, which is sure to have many more revelations. Others in the book help to enrich the narrative, to the point that I am eager to see how many return for the second novel. Legal minds, personal friends, and curious individuals who help propel the story forward are all part of Buffa’s larger plan and keep the reader hooked to the plot. With this deeper and more rooted legal thriller, the reader should expect some mental challenges moving forward, rather than something whimsical and quick to digest. This opening novel chose not to focus on a central case, but rather laid the groundwork for Antonelli’s defence work in general. This could prove a hurdle for some readers, who enjoy the lineal nature of a legal or courtroom thriller, but I suspect it was Buffa’s way to create a foundation for the series. I cannot wait to see what else this series has to offer and how Antonelli will develop throughout!

Kudos, Mr. Buffa, for yet another novel that has me thinking. I am eager to see what twists you have for us in the novels that follow.

A Book for All Seasons, a different sort of Book Challenge: https://www.goodreads.com/group/show/248185-a-book-for-all-seasons