Adult Fiction Books contemporary Crime fiction mystery suspense thriller

“The Devil’s Advocate” by Steve Cavanagh explores the nature of responsibility in times of persecution

Steve Cavanagh is the million copy bestseller of the Eddie Flynn series, and his latest instalment, The Devil’s Advocate, is the most powerful story in this set of novels. Having been published in the summer earlier this year, this courtroom thriller is the modern day To Kill A Mockingbird and A Time To Kill.

It’s enthralling, it’s dangerous, and it’s a fight to survive. The Devil’s Advocate will have you hooked and desperate to find out if anyone will make it out of it alive.

A deadly prosecutor

They call him the King of Death Row. Randal Korn has sent more men to their deaths than any district attorney in the history of the United States.

A twisted ritualistic killing

When a young woman, Skylar Edwards, is found murdered in Buckstown, Alabama, a corrupt sheriff arrests the last person to see her alive, Andy Dubois. It doesn’t seem to matter to anyone that Andy is innocent.

A small town boiling with rage

Everyone in Buckstown believes Andy is guilty. He has no hope of a fair trial. And the local defense attorney assigned to represent him has disappeared.

A former con-artist

Hot shot New York lawyer Eddie Flynn travels south to fight fire with fire. He plans to destroy the prosecutors case, find the real killer and save Andy from the electric chair.

But the murders are just beginning.

Is Eddie Flynn next?

Eddie Flynn and his team take on the dangerous task of defending a black man on trial in the south – a man who is innocent but everyone believes to be guilty. As they are hit with obstruction after obstruction, dirty trick after dirty trick, it starts to feel like the whole town is against them. And when people start dropping like flies, you can’t help but fear that one of them is next on the hit list.

Cavanagh is an incredible crime writer, and he weaves really strong and compelling themes through this powerful story. Themes of guilt, persecution, and responsibility, but also of hope and perseverance.

Like I said, The Devil’s Advocate is like a modern time To Kill A Mockingbird. No matter how you look at it, a big part of this book is about race and supremist groups that form because people are still mentally stuck in time decades ago. People who haven’t grown, haven’t accepted change, and in stuck in the old ways of the world.

One thing I love about Cavanagh’s stories are their deeper messages. And this book is no different. This time, Cavanagh explores the nature of responsibility in times of persecution.

The Devil’s Advocate mirrors the message in Martin Niemöller’s poem First They Came, which was published after the Second World War came to an end. The poem speaks on the cowardice of certain segments of the German population as the Nazis decimated their own country.

Here, Cavanagh shows us that 76 years later, some things haven’t changed. In The Devil’s Advocate, there are plenty of people who know that Andy did not kill Skylar, but they are too afraid of Korn to speak out. They are afraid of the repercussions of speaking out in a situation that, they feel, has nothing to do with them.

But what we learn from Niemöller’s poem, is that he acknowledges the fact that he did nothing to stop the Nazi’s, and by the end of the poem, the violence makes its way to him and there is no one left to stand up for him.

Cavanagh shows us that it takes a brave person to stand up to their oppressors. But if they don’t take a stand, then more people will suffer. And then, when there’s no one left, then no one can stand up at all.

In the middle of the book, he writes:

“I could see the question was eating him up inside… It was the question implied in Martin Niemöller’s confession speech in 1946. His words were given poetic form and now adorn several holocaust museums. Martin said that when they came for the socialists, he did not speak because he was not a socialist. Then they came for the communists, the trade unionists, then the Jews, and he was not a communist, a trade unionist, nor a Jew, and he did not speak. The last line haunts the heart.
Then they came for me – and there was no one left to speak for me.
At what point do you take a stand? When will you speak?
That’s the question in Farnesworth’s mind…
I asked myself the question a long time ago. And I’d spoken.”

– Steve Cavanagh, The Devil’s Advocate

In The Devil’s Advocate, we’re reminded that even though something might not have anything to do with our lives, it is so incredibly important to stand up for what’s right, to not let fear hold us quiet. We have a voice, so it’s time to fill the silence.

Although Cavanagh shows us that 76 years on from World War II it might not look like a lot of things have changed, he offers us hope through some of the other characters who are a bright light in the sea of dark.

The fact that Eddie himself said “I’d spoken”, despite it meaning he suffered greatly – losing his daughter, his wife, and the woman he loved – he still fights for the innocent in court because he feels like it’s his duty to. Because it’s the right thing to do.

Another person who spoke, and who ultimately a hero in the novel because without him, Andy might never have walked free, was the man on the jury – Taylor Avery.

At the end of the novel, Cavanagh writes:

“He had listened. And he had stood up and used his voice. He spoke up for someone because it was the right thing to do. It wasn’t political, it wasn’t for money.
He had done the right thing, no matter how much it might cost him.
And if the time ever came when he needed me. I would be there.
To speak for him.”

– Steve Cavanagh, The Devil’s Advocate

This is Cavanagh’s beacon of hope. This is how he reminds us that there is more good than bad in the world, because people like Eddie and Taylor Avery and Andy exist.

Eddie Flynn says:

“I think there’s a new generation who are not going to stand for this shit. Andy’s part of that. Young men like him will save us all.”

– Steve Cavanagh, The Devil’s Advocate

There are always going to be bad people in the world. There’s always going to be incidents. But that’s not what defeats you – it’s the fear. And this is the way the world changes. Good people raising their children right. People who will raise their kids to use their voice despite fear.

As long as we have that, we will always have hope.

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