Fifty-Fifty by Steve Cavanagh

‘911 what’s your emergency?’

‘My dad’s dead. My sister Sofia killed him. She’s still in the house. Please send help.’

‘My dad’s dead. My sister Alexandra killed him. She’s still in the house. Please send help.’

One of them is a liar and a killer.

But which one?

I’m back from maternity leave to review the most recent book from one of my favourite writers. Fifty-Fifty was released in Ireland back in April 2020 but a few small things got in the way so I couldn’t write any reviews for a while.

If you haven’t read the Eddie Flynn series by Steve Cavanagh, as well as his stand-alone Twisted, I implore you to get them all asap. Fifty-Fifty, a recent Richard and Judy book club pick, is the fifth in the series and follows the best-selling Thirteen, the well-deserved winner of the Theakston’s Old Peculiar Crime Novel of the Year in 2019. The series features Flynn, a surprisingly likeable and vulnerable ex-conman turned criminal defence attorney. In Fifty-Fifty, Eddie is representing Sophie Avellino, one of two sisters who are both accused of killing and mutilating their father, the former mayor of New York. Both sisters, who are very different, are testifying that the other is the murderer. The other sister, Alexandra, is being represented by Kate, a new character in the series, who is a lawyer in the mould of Eddie. The book switches between multiple perspectives including Eddie’s, Kate’s, and the guilty sister’s referred to only as “she”. The sections narrated by “she” are cleverly written to keep us guessing about the killer’s identity as we’re constantly given conflicting clues about her identity.

This shifting perspective works particularly well in the section called The Dark Red Night, where the narrative cuts between different characters to masterfully build tension and suspense. Needless, to say, the payoff is well worth the build up. The section demonstrates Cavanagh’s skill as a thriller writer and he has revealed that it has even upset readers. The section also demonstrates that we can’t trust anyone’s perspective. This is a book about duplicity, facades, and our need to uncover the truth as Eddie and Kate are trying to do. This is also evident in Kate’s experiences with her employers at the start of the book as she works to reveal the sexism at the heart of the company.

The book is gritty, very fast paced, and full of tension and it can easily be read as a standalone. It’s incredibly original and a clever version of the whodunnit and, like all of Cavanagh’s books, we know we’re going to get a thoroughly satisfying ending.

Orion Books, 02 April 2020

About the author

Steve Cavanagh is a critically acclaimed, Sunday Times best-selling, author of the Eddie Flynn series. His third novel, The Liar, won the CWA Gold Dagger for Crime Novel of the year 2018. Thirteen won the Theakstons Old Peculier Crime novel of the year 2019. He is also one half of the Two Crime Writers and a Microphone podcast. His latest novel, FIFTY FIFTY, is out now. 

I’m back from maternity leave to review the newest book by one of my favourite writers. If you haven’t read Steve Cavanagh’s Eddie Flynn series, and his stand-alone Twisted,

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