They were Hollywood’s hottest power couple. They had the world at their feet. Now his beautiful wife, Ariella Bloom, is dead and film star Robert Solomon is charged with her brutal murder.
Because the celebrity murder trial of the century is about to get underway, the defense wants one man on their team: former con artist, now attorney, Eddie Flynn.
The evidence points to Robert’s guilt. But as the trial begins, a series of sinister incidents raise doubts in Eddie’s mind about Solomon’s guilt.
What if there’s more than one actor in the courtroom?
What if the real killer isn’t on trial?
What if the killer is on the jury?
Th1rt3en kicks off with an exploration of Joshua Kane’s inner thoughts. On a cold December afternoon, he’s on a cardboard bed outside the Criminal Courts Building in Manhattan, thinking about killing a man. Not just any man — although he has killed “a nameless, random New Yorker who happened to fall into his line of vision” in the past. But on this particular day, he has a target in mind. And a plan. An elaborate, detailed plan.
Joshua Kane’s background, rationale, and the details of his scheme are revealed in detail through chapters drafted in the third person that alternate with Flynn’s first-person description of the state of his life. He is separated from the wife he loves, Christine, who is also a lawyer, and unable to see their twelve-year-old daughter, Amy, as often as he’d like. His drinking, the complicated emotions he feels as a criminal defense attorney, and a series of cases that put the family’s safety in jeopardy caused the marriage to falter. Eddie wants to be with his wife and child, but not until he is “finished with the law.” He thinks about doing something other than practice law, but just can’t bring himself to walk away. He carries the guilt of knowing that he helped ensure that a guilty client was exonerated. And that client “went on to hurt somebody real bad.” Eddie feels that he must help people in order to atone for his role in that tragedy.
Eddie is not just a troubled attorney. He’s a skilled one with a strong sense of right and wrong, and the innate ability to discern “when someone is telling the truth and when someone is lying. The liars don’t have the look.” ]Eddie is convinced to defend Bobby Solomon — even though he knows he is being set up for potentially catastrophic failure by Bobby’s lead defense counsel, whose fees are being paid by the studio that wants to salvage the big-budget blockbuster movie it is about to release starring Bobby and his late wife. Eddie has seen “that look before” and it is impossible to forget. “It’s rare to see that look.” And after meeting with Bobby Solomon, Eddie he has to help him. Because “Bobby Solomon wore that look.”
But Eddie has no idea what kind of formidable foe Joshua Kane will prove to be. Or why. Kane has set an elaborate, intricately-planned series of killings into motion but law enforcement investigators have not yet discovered the connections, much less the motive. Kane overlooks no details and his methodology is unique and unmistakable. He is highly intelligent and was born with congenital analgesia, a condition which causes the pain receptors in his brain to malfunction. Thus, in addition to being in top physical form, he can withstand pain that no normal person could possible tolerate. As the book progresses, he is shown by Cavanagh to be driven, ruthless, and a sociopath who will stop at nothing and spare no one in order to fulfill his goal and send his message.
Cavanagh is a former attorney putting his knowledge of the law to good use. His descriptions of the procedural aspects of criminal law and police procedure, as well as his characters’ thought processes and dialogue are technically correct and believable. Eddie Flynn is a compelling, sympathetic character despite his flaws. He is committed to the law and wants to be a family man. But he is self-aware enough to realize that his passion for the law and justice cannot be subjugated to his passion for his family, and the the two cannot successfully coexist. His story is a heartbreaking one. Is is marriage to Christine really over? Hopefully, Cavanagh will explore their relationship further in the next installment.
Sometimes that’s all a defense attorney has — their voice. Trouble is, it’s the same voice that ordered one for the road, the same voice that broke up his marriage, the same voice that messed up everything. But now it has to save a life.
Th1rt3en is a nonstop adventure that alternates, without pause, between the mind of a determined killer and a driven attorney who, with the help of some savvy and dedicated associates, is committed to discovering the killer’s motive and saving his next targets. The nuances of the ways in which Kane is able to maneuver and function strain credulity at times, but Cavanagh’s story is so original, clever, and meticulously plotted that those issues never detract from the enjoyment of how skillfully Cavanagh reveals critical information at expertly-timed junctions. The story is a masterfully constructed puzzle, full of unexpected, jaw-dropping twists and surprising plot developments. Eventually, Eddie realizes that his instincts about Bobby Solomon were spot-on. The real killer has infiltrated the legal system. In fact, he is among the jurors sequestered during the trial. And must be captured and brought to justice.
Th1rte3n includes violence, but it is neither needlessly gory nor gratuitous. Rather, it is an inherent part of the story. Cavanagh can also be forgiven for taking some liberties with the ethical duties and responsibilities implicated when a judge has a close friendship with one of the criminal defense attorneys who tries a case in his courtroom because the relationship he portrays is touching and feels otherwise genuine. Eddie needs a friend and support system, and he finds both in Judge Harry Ford, who reminds me, “Look at all this has cost you, Eddie. Somebody’s gotta do the right thing. It doesn’t always have to be you.”
Th1rt3en is sure to be included on multiple lists touting 2019’s best thrillers.
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