Just Read… The Defence & The Plea, by Steve Cavanagh


Yes, that’s two books. The Defence is Steve Cavanagh’s debut legal thriller. The Plea is, well, his next one.

I normally read and review books singly, but I’ve been quite busy with life, so am a bit behind and decided to review both books in one go.

First up, The Defence:

Former con artist turned lawyer Eddie Flynn gave up the law a year ago after a disastrous case, and he vowed never to step foot in a courtroom again. But now he doesn’t have a choice. The head of the Russian mob in New York City, on trial for murder, has kidnapped Eddie’s ten-year-old daughter: Eddie has to take this case whether he likes it or not.

Using his razor-sharp wit and every con, bluff, grift, and trick in the book, Eddie has only forty-eight hours to defend an impossible murder trial. And if he loses this case, he loses everything.

Now I read (and listen to) quite a few books. I’ve got a list of favourite authors, and Steve Cavanagh has jumped straight on to it. The Defence is simply fantastic! Our protagonist, Eddie Flynn, is a small-time con man turned lawyer who is being forced by the Russian mob to defend their head, Olek Volchek. And by forced, I mean they have not only kidnapped his daughter, they’ve strapped a bomb to him as well!

A good thriller thrills, and The Defence does just that, on pretty much every page. Flynn is in an impossible situation, but he’s not entirely helpless. He’s a sharp lawyer, a sharper conman, and he has his own network of nefarious contacts.

Cavanagh writes Flynn into impossible situations, and creates a stunning page-turner as you need to find out how on earth he can extricate himself. And the momentum just keeps going, all the way to the end. The Defense is a fabulous debut – I loved it!

It’s a shame that it would be almost impossible to write a follow-up that would be anywhere near as good…


Almost. But not quite impossible. Which Cavanagh demonstrates with a follow-up that is easily up to the challenge. And maybe even better, because we now know Eddie Flynn. And know what he’s capable of. You might think that would spoil any surprises. Don’t worry. Cavanagh counters this by tossing Flynn into an even more difficult situation!

Here’s the blurb: “When David Child, a major client of a corrupt New York law firm, is arrested for murder, the FBI ask con-artist-turned-lawyer Eddie Flynn to secure Child as his client and force him to testify against the firm. Eddie’s not a man to be coerced into representing a guilty client, but the FBI have incriminating files on Eddie’s wife, and if Eddie won’t play ball, she’ll pay the price. When Eddie meets Child he’s convinced the man is innocent, despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary. With the FBI putting pressure on him to secure the plea, Eddie must find a way to prove Child’s innocence while keeping his wife out of danger – not just from the FBI, but from the firm itself.”

Once again, Eddie needs to use every ounce of his skill and wit to keep his wife safe, and his client out of prison. But we’ve seen the evidence, and David Child must be guilty. Eddie has looked him in the eye though, and he doesn’t think so. But how can he prove it?

I can only say the same for The Plea as I did for The Defence. A stunning, clever, high-octane page-turner. Okay, there were a few different adjectives there, but they apply equally to both novels.

So, if you haven’t read Steve Cavanagh yet, you need to get right on it! I for one can’t wait for the next Eddie Flynn novel, The Liar. Although I do have The Cross, a 149-page novella, waiting for me on my Kindle.🙂



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BLOG TOUR: I Know Your Secret by Graham Smith


I’m delighted to be one of a number of fantastic bloggers taking part in a Blog Tour to celebrate the publication of Graham Smith’s latest DI Harry Evans novel, I Know Your Secret. Wait.. that sounds like I’m saying I’m fantastic. I’m not. Saying it that is. Because that would be big-headed, right?



“What would you do if your most intimate secrets got into the wrong hands?”

Set in modern day Cumbria, I Know Your Secret is a police thriller in which a priest is found crucified to the stone floor of his church. Fearing more attacks on the clergy, DI John Campbell and his team of misfits race to find the killer before he strikes again.

Meanwhile, DI Harry Evans spends his days attending the trial of his wife’s rapist and his nights interfering in the investigation.

Can they catch the killer before he strikes again?


The book is set in lovely Cumbria, but don’t let that lull you into any sense of security, this book starts as it means to go on, and it means business!

DI Harry Evans is reliving a nightmare time in court by day, and by night he’s trying to balance being supportive of DI John Campbell, now heading the Major Crimes Team, without interfering too much. But Harry is finding that sometimes it’s hard to leave things be.

This is great book, well-rounded characters, plenty going on, and great pacing! And the ‘plenty going on’ bit is carefully managed so that it doesn’t get confusing.  Tight plotting keeps the story interesting, sharp dialogue does the same for the characters, and (did I mention) great pacing keeps those pages turning.

Oh, and I haven’t mentioned Shouty Joe. He is fab!

I Know Your Secret is a great read (if you don’t mind the odd crucified priest), and is published today.


Thank you to Caffeine Nights for a free (no-strings-attached!) review copy.

About the author:


Graham Smith is married with a young son. A time served joiner he has built bridges, houses, dug drains and slated roofs to make ends meet. Since Christmas 2000 he has been manager of a busy hotel and wedding venue near Gretna Green, Scotland.

An avid fan of crime fiction since being given one of Enid Blyton’s Famous Five books at the age of eight, he has also been a regular reviewer and interviewer for the well-respected website Crimesquad.com since 2009

He is the author of four books featuring DI harry Evans and the Cumbrian Major Crimes Team:

Matching the Evidence

Snatched from Home

Lines of Enquiry

I Know Your Secret – Out today!
You can find Graham on Facebook and Twitter, or via his Website

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Just Read… Redemption Road by John Hart



A boy with a gun waits for the man who killed his mother.

A troubled detective confronts her past in the aftermath of a brutal shooting.

After thirteen years in prison, a good cop walks free as deep in the forest, on the altar of an abandoned church, a body cools in pale linen…

This is a town on the brink.

This is Redemption Road.

I first came across John Hart in 2011, with The Last Child. It blew me away. I called it one of the best crime novels I had ever read. It still is, so I was excited to get Redemption Road (on Audible, so I listened to it rather than read it).

There are a number of strands to Redemption Road that Hart weaves deftly together. Detective Elizabeth Black is on suspension for the apparent use of excessive force in what appears to be the execution of two men who were torturing and raping an 18-year-old girl being held captive in  a basement. Adrian Wall, an ex-cop and colleague of Elizabeth’s has just been released from prison after serving time for the ritualised murder of a woman.

Elizabeth doesn’t think Adrian did it. The victim’s young son, Gideon, does though, and he’s after revenge. Elizabeth has been a mother figure to Gideon, but she wants to clear Adrian’s name. Her suspension from the force isn’t helping though. And when more women are murdered in exactly the same way as the murder Adrian was convicted for, things start to get even more complicated.

Redemption Road is a powerful read, dealing with the darkest depths of the human psyche. Written by John Hart, it’s never going to be anything other than fantastically written. And was it as good as The Last Child? No, but then what is?

It was pretty darned good nevertheless.

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Just Read.. Willow Walk, by SJI Holliday


Again, maybe not ‘just’…

When the past catches up, do you run and hide or stand and fight?

When a woman is brutally attacked on a lonely country road by an escaped inmate from a nearby psychiatric hospital, Sergeant Davie Gray must track him down before he strikes again. But Gray is already facing a series of deaths connected to legal highs and a local fairground, as well as dealing with his girlfriend Marie’s bizarre behaviour. As Gray investigates the crimes, he suspects a horrifying link between Marie and the man on the run – but how can he confront her when she’s pushing him away? 

As a terrified Marie is pulled back into a violent past she thought she’d escaped, she makes an irrevocable decision. And when events come to a head at a house party on Willow Walk, can Gray piece together the puzzle in time to stop the sleepy town of Banktoun being rocked by tragedy once more?

Another sequel and second book, this time from Susi Holliday. Willow Walk is a stand-alone novel, but is the second in the fictional Banktoun trilogy (the first being Black Wood that I was lucky enough to attend the launch for.) Recurring character, Davie Gray, is a great protagonist. Gray isn’t any kind of detective fighting his own demons – he’s just a simple small-town police sergeant, getting involved with cases that should be handled by out-of-town CID. And due to the size of Banktoun’s small community, getting involved on a personal level too!

There are a number of different plot strands to keep things interesting, and the story is well-paced to ensure you keep turning the pages. This is a police procedural with just the right balance of procedural / characters / psychological elements, which makes it a great read!


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Just read… Made to be Broken, by Rebecca Bradley


Well, not ‘just’. Two months ago, maybe? I’m a little behind. In fact, I didn’t actually read it at all. I listened on audiobook! Anyhoo…

A rising death toll. A city in panic.

A young mother is found dead in her home with no obvious cause of death. As DI Hannah Robbins and her team investigate, it soon becomes clear that the woman is the first in a long line of murders by poison.

With the body count climbing, and the city of Nottingham in social meltdown, the team finds themselves in a deadly race against a serial killer determined to prove a point.

And Hannah finds herself targeting an individual with whom she has more in common than she could possibly know.

This is Rebecca’s second book, following up her debut, Shallow Waters, and once again follows DI Hannah Robbins in this police procedural. Hannah and her team are trying to come to terms with the events of six months earlier when faced with a serial killer, who seems to be targeting the people of Nottingham without any clear motive or demands, with poison being the method of choice.

Although this can be read as a standalone, the first book offers some useful context, and of course, covers the issues the team is trying to deal with. The story moves along at a satisfying pace, with enough twists and turns to keep the reader on their toes.

All-in-all a great follow up from Rebecca!


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Just read… The Devil’s Work, by Mark Edwards

It was the job she had dreamed of since childhood. But on her very first day, when an unnerving encounter drags up memories Sophie Greenwood would rather forget, she wonders if she has made a mistake. A fatal mistake.

What is her ambitious young assistant really up to? And what exactly happened to Sophie’s predecessor? When her husband and daughter are pulled into the nightmare, Sophie is forced to confront the darkest secrets she has carried for years.

As her life begins to fall apart at work and at home, Sophie must race to uncover the truth about her new job…before it kills her.


I’ve met Mark Edwards. He’s a nice guy. That doesn’t stop him coming up with thrillers that make you that little bit more wary of the people you live near, or work with. And The Devil’s Work does just that as we watch Sophie Greenwood’s new dream job become a nightmare. Is she imagining things, or is she in real danger?

This is another great solo book from Mark Edwards (Mark also co-writes thrillers with Louise Voss) with plenty of twists and turns to keep you guessing. Oh, and there is a certain appearance by detective constable Darren Paterson. 😀

If you’re a fan of domestic thrillers, you’ll like this. I loved it (and not just ’cause my namesake is in it!)

The Devil’s Work is published tomorrow (13th September).

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Just read… Behind Closed Doors, by Elizabeth Haynes


‘Just read’ is factually incorrect, as I’m behind with my book reviews. Really behind! But, in keeping with the book review blog post titles I use, I’ll stick with it. Well, I use the same when I actually listen to the audiobook instead of reading the printed matter. Anyway…

Ten years ago, fifteen-year-old Scarlett Rainsford vanished while on a family holiday in Greece. Was she abducted, or did she run away? Lou Smith worked the case as a police constable and failing to find Scarlett has been one of the biggest regrets of her career. No one is more shocked than Lou to learn that Scarlett has unexpectedly been found during a Special Branch raid of a brothel in Briarstone.

Lou and her Major Crimes team are already stretched working two troubling cases: nineteen-year-old Ian Palmer was found badly beaten; soon after, bar owner Carl McVey was found half-buried in the woods, his Rolex and money gone. While Lou tries to establish the links between the two cases, DS Sam Hollands works with Special Branch to question Scarlett. What happened to her? Where has she been until now? And why is her family with the exception of her emotionally fragile younger sister, Juliette less than enthusiastic about her return?

When another brutal assault and homicide are linked to the McVey murder, Lou’s cases collide, and the clues all point in one terrifying direction. As the pressure and the danger mount, it becomes clear that the silent, secretive Scarlett holds the key to everything.

Behind Closed Doors is the second book in the Briarstone crime series, featuring DCI Louisa Smith, the first being Under a Silent Moon. It explores the underbelly of the sex-trafficking industry as we slowly find out what happened to Scarlett through following dual timelines of then and now. I actually really enjoyed the dual timeline aspect revealing Scarlett’s (awful) ordeal from when she disappeared.

The book is well-written and draws you in, despite the subject nature. I came away feeling that the story gave an accurate representation of what human trafficking might be like, with characters the reader can empathise with. And with all good books, there’s a bit of a twist which catches you unawares!

My only bugbear was that the book includes copies of police reports, which were very difficult to read on my Kindle due to their size (the Kindle’s magnification function didn’t help). That said, this was a relatively minor inconvenience (possibly only with my (old) Kindle), which wouldn’t stop me from recommending this as a great read!





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