Review – Fifty Fifty by Steve Cavanagh

Series: Eddie Flynn #5

Oblique spoilers casually thrown about with abandon.

Usually it’s a hard pass from me

I rarely start a book series in the middle as I feel it does you no justice.  You’ve missed out on character development, traits and incidents which are key to the back story.  Does it mean that you’re on the back foot all the time? Not really, yet for me, there’s a feeling, no reality that you don’t know as much as readers of the previous books. 

However, if for some reason you were to start with a popular character similar to say for instance Lee Child’s Reacher,  a maverick who is out to help people, then Fifty Fifty featuring  Eddie Flynn would be a good choice.  It is easily read as a standalone novel, was well written and researched.  And probably in my opinion as importantly, when referencing the past it isn’t revealed in an insufferable way gloating about what’s been missed, rather shared in a useful and informative fashion.

So all in all a great book for a quick read and imminently suitable for Book Group. But we will leave what Book group thought until later.

Fifty Fifty is a straightforward courtroom drama: One daughter is a murderer. The other has been framed. Yet, spoiler alert. one daughter is not only a murderer but is really a serial killer.  Totally a psychopath, no remorse, utterly cold and fixated on her agenda. The job of the reader, like the jury is to find out which sister is the guilty one and to ensure that the innocent sibling doesn’t get sentenced instead.  Hence the title 50:50.  The evidence meant it could go either way.

Enter here  Eddie Flynn whose party trick is also his super power.  He can always tell when some one is lying and Eddie doesn’t defend the guilty.  But this case is so unusual he has to double check that he’s on the right side.

Reading clients and reading juries was my bag. This case wasn’t normal. There was nothing remotely normal about it. This was the first verdict that I couldn’t call. I was too close to it. In my mind, it was an even split. The verdict may as well come down to a coin toss. A fifty- fifty.

Eddie Flynn

The Sisters

On appearance it appears obvious who is the guilty party. The sisters born a year apart but really are quite different.  One successful, a golden girl in looks and endeavours.  The other pale and troubled. Alexandra and  Sofia’s reputation preceded them.  But is all as it seems?  The evidence increasingly  seems as it could go either way in supporting or damning each of the sisters.

This book is full of double bluff, fake outs and false leads that it makes your head spin

Let’s step back to the crime.  How very convenient that the ex mayor of NYC is killed a few days before the meeting with his lawyer to change his will.  Fortunately suspects are immediately found. Unfortunately they are his daughters.

Why would a daughter commit patricide?

Back And Forth

To explain the reasoning behind that, we have to talk about the format of the book.

The structure of the book is really the best thing about it.  We have the story told from the point of view of the two lawyers defending the sisters and from the mysterious ‘She’, the sister who is the killer.  This set up works very well until two thirds in, when you just want the book to end so you can congratulate yourself or commiserate on being astute or oblivious to who did it.

‘She’, the killer is  aloof, calculating and determined. Her psychology appears to place the sadistic childhood both girls were subjected to by their mother as the catalyst.  It made me wonder where their father was during this period. Leaving me unsurprised and unmoved to find out that one of his daughters mutilated his body during the murder.   Are we to believe its  the consequence of a father who was absent and even when present oblivious. Or is there even more to the rationale?

The flashbacks to the  sisters’ youth, brought to mind the query of  nature versus nurture.  Eddie extended my thought with the following quote:

People can be good. There is such a thing as a good person. Someone who does good things because they enjoy it. Why, then, can’t the opposite be true? Why can’t a person just be evil because they enjoy it?

Eddie Flynn

Why aren’t both sisters killers? Are there people who are inherently evil?

The Characters

Eddie Flynn is the main character, this is book 5 in his series. He’s fairly interesting with a back story that make you want to know more. Eddie is more or less a realistic portrayal of a conman turned lawyer.

Kate, is the other defence lawyer and I saw this as an almost token and formulaic representation. She was subject to sexism and male white privilege from the large law firm that she worked at.  Taking on this case is her step out to her future where she’s the boss and in control.

The supporting cast are suitably helpful in a pondering way in pitting their wits against a revealed strategic mastermind and the rest are regular stereotypes that assist in making Fifty Fifty an engaging lightweight read.

There is lots more that I could say, but it would be even more spoilerish.  So I’ll leave it and sum up now.

Minor points, yet have to be said

What I found unbelievable/ stretched the imagination until it was bent out of shape were the following two areas

‘She’ was all about killing because she wanted to and could. And was far too perfect about doing so. Seemingly on the scale of  Sydney from Alias – skilled and lucky like Nikita from La Femme Nikita.  How didn’t anyone notice the number of missing people that surrounded her?   The feats she achieved was excessive and impressive, she really had the skills and the body count to be on the payroll of any national government.

I can only surmised that recruitment wasn’t attempted because it was obvious that she was in the middle of her own end game and had no interest in anyone else’s agenda, rather than because she was unbalanced.

She had been playing a psychological chess game against her father and sister for years. Frank had found out. She was pretty sure of this, or at least he had some heavy- duty suspicions. And so, Daddy had to die

‘She’

It got to a point when I started to question the ability of every character concerned about why – as professionals – they were incapable of linking ALL the murders, which gradually implicated and gave motive to identify the killer

The second point would be how likely would it be that a moral compass would win the day? Though satisfying it was to have the two defence lawyers meet up and thrash out the evidence and theories, I’m not entirely sure if that is legal or realistic. However because both Kate and Eddie are such reasonable people, I’m going to let it slide.

I liked this book but not many of the characters, as the ones who were the most unpleasant took up a lot of space.

Book Group conclusion was it’s a easy beach type read, with some liking it a lot more than others who got fed up with the twist and turns. Group review 6 out of 10


3 Stars - Liked It

Female, in her 40's who reads when she can, often to the detriment of sleep. Enjoying most genres and formats with a preference for ebooks, mainly for convenience

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3 star rating explained

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