Adult Fiction Books contemporary Crime fiction mystery suspense thriller

People believe what they can see in Steve Cavanagh’s “The Plea”

Steve Cavanagh’s Eddie Flynn series is incredible – it is so unlike any other courtroom drama. These books are fast paced: they’re enthralling, they’re gripping, and they’re exciting. And the second novel in the instalment, The Plea, is no different.

Filled with twists and turns you don’t see coming, The Plea involves a tricky and convoluted case where blackmail pressure is used on Flynn to defend a client. With an entirely addictive storyline, The Plea will have you on the edge of your seat until you close the cover.

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.

The Plea, the follow up novel from The Defence, is set some time after its predecessor. Since Eddie has a little bit of time to get over the events of the prior novel, he has decided he wants a quieter life. Of course, things don’t pan out this way. He is soon approached by the CIA to take on a billionaire client accused of murder and get him to take admit guilt and take a plea.

One of the most incredible things about Eddie though as a lawyer, is that he refuses to represent clients he knows are guilty. Because of previous experiences, Eddie is more ethical and moral than most other lawyers probably are, and he won’t represent anyone he believes in his heart to be truly guilty.

He’s got a really good feeling when it comes to people and knowing when someone is capable of a crime or of murder. He can read people so well. And he believes helping an innocent person take a plea and get time in jail is just as bad as helping a guilty person walk free.

If anyone knows about the twisted, the come undone, the drive of the driven, it’s Eddie – who is one of those characters you can’t help but completely fall in love with. So, arguably, he is the best possible person to deal with the events in this novel.

Cavanagh writes ingenious and unpredictable courtroom dramas, but one of the things I love about his stories is that they also contain propulsive, thrilling action away from the law court.

I’m not particularly law-savvy, so having all of the story happen inside a courtroom would bore me. Cavanagh has a perfect blend of the plot unfolding both in the courtroom, and outside it.

One of the best things about The Plea, however, was the story’s message, which is this: People believe what they can see.

As Eddie explains, the main thing in a con is to control what a person sees. If you can control that, then you can control someone’s mind, because people tend to believe what they can see.

This is the same trick used in magic, in evidence presenting in courtrooms. There have been numerous reports that illusions can help us understand free will, perception, and even cybersecurity and game design. It is a window into the shortcuts our minds use to make sense of the world.

At the beginning of The Plea, Cavanagh writes:

“My dad once told me that the heart of the con lies in the eyes.
People believe what they can see. As long as you control their view, you control their mind.”

– Steve Cavanagh, The Plea

Perception is all about problem solving – it’s about you making a guess about what the world is actually like, rather than what the world is like in reality.

So, seeing is very much believing.

If you can control what someone can see, you can control what they think and how they perceive information and process it.

Sometimes even if we know something is a trick – like in magic, for example – because the ‘magic’ happens in front of our eyes, we still believe it’s magic, because we can’t see the trick. Even if we know it’s not real, we struggle to accept it and we believe it is because of how our eyes interpret it.

In this way, Cavanagh is almost warning us about being easily fooled. We like to think we’re not, but to be honest it’s easy to get fooled if we don’t know what we’re looking for or what we’re meant to be seeing – or, more importantly, what we’re not meant to be seeing.

This idea that people believe what they can see actually has very worrying implications. Especially with our interaction of fake news. It demonstrates that if you’ve got these very emotive situations where people can see something that they know is fake, this can still have an impact on people’s beliefs.

We are highly susceptible to misinformation, and we really struggle to distinguish between fiction and reality.

This is what Cavanagh is trying to warn us about with the events that unfold is his brilliant novel, The Plea.

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