THE PLEA by Steve Cavanagh


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You can beat him up, arrest his wife, try to acid bomb him, but you can’t hustle a hustler.

When federal agents threaten his wife, Christine, with jail time, Eddie Flynn, retired con man and present-day defense lawyer, gets involved in a complicated conspiracy. The feds want to take down Christine’s white shoe law firm, Harland and Sinton, which has been covertly laundering money for various criminal enterprises, making Christine vulnerable to charges. To keep his wife out of prison, Flynn is pressured to coerce a plea deal from David Child, social media billionaire and the designer of the security algorithm at the heart of the money-laundering scheme, who is charged with the murder of his girlfriend and who would normally be defended by Harland and Sinton. For reduced jail time Child will provide the feds with the key to the algorithm. The murder charge appears bullet-proof, and a plea deal should be attractive, but Flynn first has to convince Child to fire Harland and Sinton and retain him, which he manages through somewhat devious means. Then Flynn becomes convinced that Child is innocent, and he has to face an impossible choice: if he successfully defends Child, he will fail the feds, who will vindictively imprison his wife; or he can try to con Child into taking the plea, effectively engineering the conviction of an innocent man, and thus free his wife. Flynn thinks he sees a third path and will have to disentangle many threads. Is Child innocent? If so, who framed him? If he has been framed, can Flynn prove it in court? Can Flynn protect Child from Harland and Sinton and the dark forces behind them, who would like Child dead to protect their scheme? Will an ambitious DA ruin any deal Flynn might manage to make with the feds? Will Flynn drink again, and if he does, will it matter? Good courtroom sequences, engaging minor characters, an ornately twisted plot, a repentant but hopeful hero—what could go wrong? And though Cavanagh doesn’t go wrong, his novel falls short of the best of Elmore Leonard or Ross Thomas.

A worthwhile caper, if a little overweight.

Pub Date: Feb. 13th, 2018
ISBN: 978-1-250-10556-1
Page count: 368pp
Publisher: Flatiron Books
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1st, 2017


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