Book Talk: ‘Thirteen,’ Best So Far
As regular readers of this column have probably figured out, I think that Steve Cavanagh is the best new male writer of mystery/thriller novels. Therefore, I am declaring January, 2023, as Steve Cavanagh Month, and his books will be reviewed for the next four weeks.
Here’s the thing about Cavanagh. He pins you to the edge of your seat. Then he dares you to move. Get up. Put the book down. He double-dares you. He triple-dares you with whipped cream and a cherry on top. But his stories keep you hanging right there on the chair’s edge. And “Thirteen” (2018, 323 pages in hardback), the fourth book in the Eddie Flynn series, is no exception.
As in the previous books, Eddie has been brought into an impossible case, this time by Rudy Carp, the high-flying buzzsaw of Carp Law. And the media is all over it because it involves the current power couple of the silver screen Robert Solomon and his beautiful wife Ariella Bloom, who was on contract to co-star in a new blockbuster film. But one day, Bobby walked into his bedroom and found Ariella naked, lying supine on the bed. Next to her, curled up in a fetal position, was Bobby’s head of security, Carl Tozer. They were both dead. Although Bobby made the 9-1-1 call, every piece of evidence — and there is a mountain of it — points to Bobby, only Bobby and no one else. Nevertheless, both Rudy and Eddie are convinced of Bobby’s innocence, even though it appears that the accused is hiding something.
When a certain piece of gossip leaks to the paparazzi, the movie studio pulls its money from the case, and Carp Law bows out, leaving Bobby’s defense in Eddie’s hands. It’s going to take every trick that Eddie has learned to convince the jury that the defendant is not guilty. Eddie knows that the best way to win the case is to find the real killer, and he’s got a team working on that. What he doesn’t know, though, is that the killer is a member of the jury.
Joshua Kane, a serial killer and master of disguise, has manipulated the jury selection process to assure that he, in his assumed identity, is high enough on the prospective juror list to be chosen. But, when a woman takes his seat, he is bumped from the sitting jury and becomes one of the alternates. Of course, this means that he needs to start killing jury members until he’s moved from the alternates’ seats to the jury box. And Cavanagh shows that he can create not only a highly skilled lawyer in Bobby but also an ingenious psychopath in Kane.
In the previous three books, when Eddie needed to talk about a case, he could go to his best friend, Judge Harry Ford. However, due to a health issue, the judge in Eddie’s case is unable to continue, and Harry becomes the new judge. Cavanagh does a great job in changing the relationship between Harry and Eddie without unnecessary drama or alteration in court procedure.
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Jim Glynn may be contacted at email@example.com.