Written by Steve Cavanagh — New York-based con artist turned lawyer Eddie Flynn is back for a third story in this highly entertaining series. In The Liar, he has to work out who is telling the truth and who is… the liar.
It’s 2 August 2002 in Upstate New York and the baby is screaming. No matter what Julie tries she just can’t get him off to sleep. She’s tired and stressed. To help her nerves Julie takes a fix of crack. Through a drug addled haze, Julie thinks she sees a man dressed entirely in black standing over her baby. He attacks Julie and knocks her unconscious. When she comes round, the apartment is on fire and the baby has gone.
Fast forward to the present day and Eddie Flynn is in his small New York law office at midnight. His phone rings. Flynn doesn’t pick up and it goes to voicemail. Over the speaker the caller announces himself as Leonard Howell. Eddie picks up.
Howell is a wealthy and powerful man. His 17-year-old daughter, Caroline, has gone missing and he wants Eddie’s help because of his experience in dealing with missing people. The pair go way back, and Eddie owes Howell a favour. Howell arranges for a chauffeur to collect Eddie. However, before the car arrives Eddie is served a subpoena on behalf of high flying solicitor, Max Copeland. Eddie is puzzled – what is he being dragged into? Soon he finds out it’s an old case back from 2002 that a close friend handled – the case of Julie’s missing baby.
When Eddie arrives at Howell’s huge house he’s surprised to find the FBI already there. Which means something bad is happening. Eddie learns there’s been a ransom demand. The kidnapper contacted Howell asking for $2 million. However, an hour later, via a secure email, the kidnapper demands $10 million from him, but the FBI mustn’t find out. Two money drops will have to take place at the same time but in different locations.
Eddie hatches a plan to fool the FBI and the drop goes ahead, but something goes wrong. Howell doesn’t get Caroline back and suddenly he and Eddie are in deep. It looks to the FBI like Caroline was murdered – by Howell. Can Eddie prove Howell’s innocence, as well as his own? And what’s the connection to the events in 2002 with Julie and the missing baby?
If The Liar was a stick of rock it would have the word ‘thriller’ all the way through it because that’s what this novel is – a high octane story that gets into a high gear from page one and stays there right through to the last.
In the first quarter this feels very much like a Lee Child novel via the pacing and characterisation. However, by the time we reach the court case in the second half it becomes more like a John Grisham novel, back when Grisham was at the top of his game. Steve Cavanagh is a practicing lawyer and the depth of his knowledge shines out from the narrative.
The first book in the series, The Defence, was listed as one of Amazon’s great debuts of 2015. There, the underlying theme was very much family. In The Liar, Eddie’s wife and child are much more in the background, and if the family theme is there it’s much subtler. The writing is short, sharp and punchy, with quick chapters, and anything that gets in the way of the plot has been ruthlessly trimmed.
Thoroughly enjoyable page turner with lots of shocks, twists and turns. Well plotted, well constructed, well executed.
Long live Eddie…
CFL Rating: 5 Stars