“Burke shows again that he’s not just a comic genius, but also a fine dramatic writer and storyteller.” – Booklist. “Prose both scabrous and poetic.” – Publishers Weekly. “Proust meets Chandler over a pint of Guinness.” – Spectator. “Among the most memorable books of the year, of any genre.” – Sunday Times. “A hardboiled delight.” – Guardian. “Imagine Donald Westlake and Richard Stark collaborating on a screwball noir.” – Kirkus Reviews. “A cross between Raymond Chandler and Flann O’Brien.” – John Banville.

Friday, March 20, 2015

Review: THE DEFENCE by Steve Cavanagh

Irish author Steve Cavanagh’s debut novel The Defence (Orion, €16.99) offers what is likely to prove the most implausible opening to a thriller this year, as New Yorker Eddie Flynn – ex-lawyer, ex-con artist – finds himself abducted by the Russian mafia, dressed as a walking bomb, and sent into a courtroom with 48 hours to ensure mobster Olek Volchek is found not guilty in his murder trial. One man’s implausible, of course, is another man’s bravura opening gambit, and Cavanagh’s high-concept legal thriller, barrelling along at a furious pace as Eddie schemes to escape the Russians’ clutches and take his revenge, reads a lot like a courtroom drama penned by Lee Child for Jack Reacher’s younger, more hot-headed but equally resourceful brother. Cavanagh, who is himself a Belfast-based solicitor, isn’t particularly interested in legal niceties here: The Defence is a gas-to-the-floor thriller that pulls out with tyres smoking and takes no prisoners until it judders to a halt 400 pages later. If subtlety is at a premium, there’s no mistaking the ambition: this is story-telling with the kind of verve and chutzpah last seen in an Irish debut crime novel in Stuart Neville’s The Ghosts of Belfast. ~ Declan Burke

  This review was first published in the Irish Times.

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