Review: The Defense by Steve Cavanagh

The Defense by Steve Cavanagh is the first book in the Eddie Flynn series, following a former con artist-turned-lawyer who finds out that the two aren't all that different—now available in mass market paperback!

The Defense opens with a gripping scene that encapsulates the new life of Eddie Flynn, former con artist-turned-lawyer. Eddie is at Ted’s Diner, his “favorite place to think” and go-to spot for pre-trial strategizing. The table in his booth is usually covered with “coffee-stained legal briefs.” But this time, a stranger threatens him with a handgun pressed into the small of Eddie’s back:

I’d grown sloppy. That’s what happens when you go straight.

“Do exactly as I tell you or I’ll put a bullet in your spine.”

The accent was male and Eastern European. I detected no tremors or hints of anxiety in his voice. The tone sounded even and measured. This wasn’t a threat; it was a statement of fact. If I didn’t cooperate, I would be shot.

The man with an accent knows Flynn’s name. He ushers him into a limo. Three men are inside: “Olek Volchek, the infamous head of the Russian mafia in New York” and two thuggish bodyguards. The timing couldn’t be worse. Flynn assumes they want money, and that’s a problem. If only it was just money! Flynn asks why they aren’t working with Jack Halloran, his former law partner and a much better match for what the Russian mobsters need. That’s when they put a white gym bag in his face and open it, revealing Jack’s head inside.

“We thought Jack could do it. We were wrong. But we take no chances with you, Mr. Flynn,” said Volchek, leaning forward. “We have your daughter.”

Time, breath, blood, motion—everything stopped.

“If you so much as touch her…”

There’s nothing Eddie Flynn won’t do to secure his daughter Amy’s safety, but as an insurance policy, the mobsters have strapped a bomb to Eddie's back. A bomb on his back and the frightening reality that his 10-year-old daughter has been kidnapped—what now? He’s in a limo with two thugs and two mobsters, but his words are anything but cowed, “Give her back to me and I’ll let you live.” In the face of their laughter and diabolical threats against Amy, Eddie lunges at Volchek, punching him in the face and throat. A psycho bodyguard lifts Eddie “clean off the floor” of the limo, ready to take him down. Eddie’s “old habits” take over.

My right hand grabbed for his face, hard, driving my fingernails into his fleshy forehead. It was an automatic, unconscious response and distraction. My left hand slipped into the big guy’s jacket, and I lifted his wallet. It took half a second. Fast and soft. I hadn’t lost much speed over the years after all. It was a clean lift. The big guy hadn’t noticed; he was too busy trying to take my head off. As I slipped the wallet into my pocket, a fist the size of a dinner plate appeared in front of my face. I turned away from the blow and felt the impact burn across the back of my skull. I fell, smacking my head on the limo floor.

I stayed on the deck and felt the pain roaring into my head. It was my first pocket dip in fifteen years. It was instinct; it just happened because that’s who I was.

No—it’s who I am.

The skills and techniques that I’d developed and used as a successful con artist—distraction, misdirection, persuasion, suggestion, the load, the switch, the drop—I’d used these methods just as much on the street all those years ago as I had for the past nine years in the courtroom. I hadn’t really changed. I’d just changed the con.

That’s it, in a nutshell. Eddie Flynn’s skills at running a con, together with his formidable legal chops, are essential to avoid getting blown to kingdom come while saving his daughter. Readers will be on the edge of their seats watching Eddie duck and weave with the help of a motley crew of buddies—some legal and some decidedly not. The best news: Eddie Flynn is back in February 2018 with the second installment, The Plea!

Read an excerpt from The Defense!


To learn more or order a copy, visit:

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Janet Webb aka @JanetETennessee has unpredictable opinions on books. Season ticket holder of the Oakland Athletics baseball team. Social media devotee. Stories on royals and politics catch my eye. Ottawa born. Grew up on the books of Helen MacInnes, Mary Stewart, Dorothy L. Sayers, and Anne Perry … I'm always looking for a great new mystery series.

Read all of Janet Webb's articles for Criminal Element!


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