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The Plea

by Steve Cavanagh

The Plea by Steve Cavanagh X
The Plea by Steve Cavanagh
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  • First Published:
    Feb 2018, 368 pages
    Paperback:
    Nov 2018, 544 pages

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Book Reviewed by:
Donna Chavez
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An innocent client. A wife in jeopardy. A locked room mystery. Who will take The Plea?

Turn to page one of Steve Cavanagh's legal thriller The Plea and buckle your seat belt. It's gonna be a deliciously bumpy ride.

It begins with a gun at point blank range, aimed at criminal attorney Eddie Flynn's chest. It appears that he has used up the last of his escape or fight back resources and is about to be dispatched to that great courtroom-in-the-sky. Of course, we know he survives. He has lived to tell the tale, hasn't he? But how? The ensuing story proves that even though Eddie lacks money, he possesses – and uses – an overabundance of resources. Whether by wit, wile or weight (including a tough associate called Lizard, among others), Flynn must employ them all to overcome impossible odds.

Backtracking forty-eight hours from the gun-pointing-at-chest-moment, Eddie's life takes a sudden turn. He is approached by federal law enforcement agents who want him to represent a young social media billionaire named David Child. Nothing too complicated there except that Child (Dickensian moniker and all) has been arrested for the murder of his girlfriend. Oh, and he's already being represented by counsel – a big time Manhattan law firm called Harland and Sinton, which, by the way, is hip-deep in money laundering (see Beyond the Book) using an algorithm Child innocently (he claims) designed for them. Which is why the Feds want to get inside Child's defense. They expect Eddie to convince the young man to accept a plea deal in exchange for turning Harland and Sinton over to the authorities.

It's a daunting task at best, and Eddie's instinct tells him to demur. But the next plot twist – that the Feds will arrest Eddie's estranged wife should he fail to complete the task – cinches the deal. Because Ms. Eddie Flynn, now known as Christine White, coincidentally works for Harland and Sinton and she could be swept up in the indictments. Needless to say, Eddie will do anything to spare the mother of his daughter. The only thing remaining is for Eddie to call on his every available skill and resource if only to save his wife.

There may be no better training for a criminal lawyer than a lifelong occupation as a grifter, and Eddie Flynn has that. As a second-generation con man Eddie cut his teeth on the game. "I'd been a con man, using my father's skills, keeping his code, taking down scores from the worst insurance companies, from drug dealers, from the vilest lowlifes that I could find. And I'd slept like a baby. It was only when I became a lawyer that I had trouble sleeping. The line was never clear." He no sooner gets Child's signature on a retainer that the line begins to fade even more.

Once Eddie has a chance to speak with David Child he's convinced the young nerd is innocent and has been framed. Eddie's conscience won't let David accept a plea deal, effectively ruining his life and allowing the actual murderer to walk. But this frame-up is a master work. Based on a mountain of seemingly irrefutable evidence – from security camera footage to eyewitnesses to forensic proof – David seems like the only one who could have possibly committed the murder. Luckily, or not, he has retained, perhaps, New York City's only attorney with – despite his con-man past – a true moral compass. Going against the very strict orders given him by the federal agents, Eddie is determined to both defend David and save Christine.

From here on the plot twists keep pages flying as Eddie attempts to unravel a case where anyone and everyone – with the exception of Christine – either is or can be guilty of murder. The courtroom scenes are terrific as Eddie carefully constructs his questions of prosecution witnesses, coming head to head with an ambitious and ruthless District Attorney. So who is pointing a loaded gun at Eddie? And why? Getting to the answers is the most fun I've had since reading any of Grisham's best.

Reviewed by Donna Chavez

This review was originally published in The BookBrowse Review in March 2018, and has been updated for the January 2019 edition. Click here to go to this issue.

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Beyond the Book:
  Money Laundering

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