- 21 Jul 22
The Eyes Have It
Belfast man Cavanagh is no stranger to the inside of a courtroom, having trained, practised, and won record breaking damages for clients in the past. I can’t be sure how many high profile serial killer cases he’s been involved in but if The Accomplice is anything to go by, he’s an unimpeachable expert who should be coining it as a professional state's witness.
This is book seven in his Eddie Flynn series, the New York lawyer who won’t take a client unless he knows they're innocent - I’m no legal eagle, but aren’t all those who are called to the bar equally conscientious? No? – and while there are allusions to previous cases, you won’t need to have read them - I haven't - to enjoy this marvellous piece of work. We’re thrown right into it on page one as the FBI’s Paige Delaney raids the house of a serial killer known as The Sandman, so named because the ocular cavities of the multiple victims were filled with sand after their eyes were removed as trophies.
Cavanagh sets his thriller apart from a hundred others by revealing the killer’s identity before the first chapter’s close. He’s Daniel Miller, a fabulously rich hedge fund manager. Thankfully, for the sake of the story, he isn’t home but his wife Carrie is. A search of the property uncovers jewellery taken from the victims, and a blood stain on a shirt cuff, a woman's shirt. Mrs Miller is placed under arrest.
Cut to six months later and the trial of ‘the most evil woman in America’ is about to begin. This is where Eddie and his team come in. Sitting in the reception of Flynn & Brooks is a nervous looking Otto Peltier who practices in “the high-class areas of law. Real Estate, Tax, Wealth Management, Divorce, and Probate.” In other words, helping the rich stay rich, and Carrie Miller is among that number. Peltier is not a trial lawyer and he knows it so he's asking Flynn to take on the case. Eddie’s wary of the risks involved. The Sandman’s still out there so why draw the attention of a madman?
Despite the entreaties of his partner Kate Brooks, who specialises in representing women who've had a raw deal, it takes a meeting with Mrs Miller to convince him. He sees “pain and guilt” in the eyes of a woman who “had been lied to and manipulated by an evil man”. Flynn is a good man. They take the case.
What follows is a thriller-writing master class. Just like those souvenirs that the killer keeps in a jar, we're told the story from multiple points of view - the cold and malevolent madman at work, the revelations of Carrie's journal, the work of Flynn's investigator Bloch, ex-fed Gabriel Lake, who may or may not have gone berserk when a bust went bad, and who lies his way into the case, and Flynn himself, troubled by his past but determined to do the right thing.
Added to that are gripping courtroom scenes that'll have John Grisham looking over his shoulder in a sweat - Cavanagh's years of experience coming to the fore - and set pieces like a cat and mouse game involving several vehicles, and palpable terror as a potential casualty fights for their life. The dog went unfed and my bed remained undisturbed as I sat up late into the night finishing a novel that pulls out more rugs than Persian shopkeeper - one character I assumed would play a major part ends up in the morgue early on - and contains more twists than a Chubby Checker LP. Book a holiday just so you can take The Accomplice with you.