Last Updated on December 11, 2019 Steve Cavanagh is an Irish thriller author whom I first heard about through his work with Mark Dawson on one of their Group Fifteen novellas (namely Scorpion), published 2017. The short story was quite good, so I figured I’d check out the author’s other standalone works as well.
This is when I came across the Eddie Flynn series, a legal thriller series that is equally well-written. Now Mr. Cavanagh is an author I follow for any new books he writes.
Here are the Steve Cavanagh books in order for his books in the series and his standalone novels.
New Steve Cavanagh Books
Eddie Flynn Series
- The Cross (Eddie Flynn #0.5), 2015 (prequel novella)
- The Defence (Eddie Flynn #1), 2015
- The Plea (Eddie Flynn #2), 2016
- The Liar (Eddie Flynn #3), 2017
- Thirteen (Eddie Flynn #4), 2018
- Fifty-Fifty (Eddie Flynn #5), 2020
Group Fifteen Series
Standalone Steve Cavanagh Books
- Twisted, 2019
Steve Cavanagh Biography
Steve Cavanagh (real name Steve Mearns) was born and raised in Lisburn, Belfast, Northern Ireland.
As a child, he loved reading books, but when at the age of 12 his mom, Bridie Mearns, gave him a copy of the book The Silence of the Lambs by Thomas Harris, he really started focusing all his attention on crime, mystery, and thriller novels, and read everything he could get his hands on, including books by authors like Michael Connelly, Lee Child, and John Connolly, among others. Some of these authors also influenced his later writing.
About reading his first thriller book, he says, “That changed everything and I read Red Dragon straight after and fell in love with crime and thriller novels. I also always had an interest in the law, so I read John Mortimer’s Rumpole of the Bailey series and, of course, John Grisham.”
At the age of 18, he moved to Dublin to go to university to study business and marketing at Portobello College. He tried for two different majors: law, and business & marketing. But after a mishap that happened during a particular night of binge drinking, he realized that he registered for law, which means he joined the wrong queue. He would have changed it, however, the fees were already paid.
Later on, while living in Cardiff, he followed with a postgraduate diploma in legal practice at Cardiff University, while also working on writing comedy screenplays for three years, between the age of 18 and 21. As the screenplays never sold or became a success, Steve returned to Belfast where he began working with a reputable law firm as an investigator. His cases ranged from traffic accidents, work-related accidents, to severe incidents involving injuries.
While gaining valuable experience in his field of work, he also got his solicitor qualifications, which allowed him to become a famous young lawyer in his country.
After moving to the field of civil rights, in 2010 he took on a racial abuse case representing a factory worker. This case resulted in a landmark damages ruling, and it made Steve Cavanagh quite famous all over again.
Over the years, he worked in various legal-related fields, such as Personal Injury Law, Discrimination Law, Judicial Review, and Employment Law, while also giving lectures within Ireland and England in all sorts of legal fields, including being a leading civil rights lawyer in Northern Ireland.
One year later, in 2011 on St Patrick’s Day, his mom passed away at the Marie Curie Hospice after a short but sudden illness. This is when Steve Cavanagh realized that life is quite short and one should not live their life without following their dreams. So he finally went after his dream of writing his first book and become a published author.
While during the day he was working at his legal firm, at night, when everyone at home was asleep, he was writing his book. This way, he managed to finish his first draft within a year. He sent it to several publishing houses but got over 30 rejections.
When A M Heath of London, the famous literary agency contacted him to sign him up, Steve could not have been more surprised to learn that a few additional big publishers wanted his book as well. Thus the auction wars started for the rights to his book, both at home and in Germany.
Eventually, Orion won and became Steve’s major publisher, which published the Steve Cavanagh debut novel, The Defence, the first book in the Eddie Flynn series, featuring Eddie, an ex-con artist turned lawyer.
The way Eddie was born happened while Steve was doing a trial cross-examination and made the witness tell the truth through an old courtroom trick he used on the poor witness. Realizing that just as cons trick people into giving them their money and possessions, lawyers do their own tricks into finding out the truth by any means necessary. They both use their powers of persuasion, distraction, manipulation, and misdirection equally.
The Eddie Flynn books, while legal thrillers, they are not based on the author’s real cases, but they are based on Steve Cavanagh’s experience with the law and his background in the field. The characters are all fictional.
With The Defense, the first book by the author, Steve Cavanagh showed the world that to win a case, the truth is not always necessary. All you need is to prove something, whether it’s true or not. In the author’s own words, “whoever tells the best story usually wins.”
The Eddie Flynn Steve Cavanagh series is set in the US, and the author (who was never in the US before) got boldened in his location decision after seeing that John Connolly has also set his Charlie Parker books in the US. Also, another exampled to follow was Lee Child with his Jack Reacher books. the author is also British, while Jack Reacher is an American hero.
Another reason for the US setting was that Steve loves writing fast-paced legal thrillers. The British way is much slower, so the books can’t take place there, especially since there is the dual system of representation (solicitor and barristers) which doesn’t exist in the US, which would have needed the addition of a second main character that the author didn’t want to introduce into the story.
For his research, Steve Cavanagh studied a lot of American law books, especially the New York Legal system since this is where the Eddie Flynn books are set in, and spoke to lawyers who took him under their umbrella.
Steve Cavanagh is the only author from Northern Ireland to win The Theakston Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year Award, which was awarded in 2019. This UK award is one of the most prominent ones in the country. Steve was one of the six shortlisted participants (among the original list of 18 writers) from the UK and Ireland, and through is win, he received a £3,000 cash prize, along with a handmade engraved oak beer cask that was crafted by the coopers at Theakston’s Masham brewery.
In addition to being a civil-rights lawyer and writing books, Steve Cavanagh is also the host of the Two Crime Writers and a Microphone podcast with Luca Veste. In this online show, they interview writers, agents, editors, publishers, as well as bring the latest in the book world. Although the interviews are not standard, as the discussions can go pretty much anywhere the thread takes them. So it’s more like a discussion than anything else.
In his latest book, Thirteen, Steve Cavanagh touches on the lives of celebrities in Hollywood: the movie stars, fixers, gossip, politics, and the glamorous world overall. The main enemy in the book is Joshua Kane who is much more evil and ruthless than even Hannibal Lector, the character of the author’s first read as a teen.
While the Steve Cavanagh books can be read in order of publication, the author wrote them so that they can easily be standalones. So if you start with the second book and then go back to the first, you won’t lose all that much.
So why the name Steve Cavanagh? While he was born as Steven Mearns, he took his mother’s maiden name, Cavanagh, as a tribute to her, as well as to separate his two identities: that of a legal thriller author and that of a lawyer. He writes under the name Steve Cavanagh and practices law under the name Steve Mearns.
In 2018, Steve Cavanagh won the Golden Dagger Best Book Awards, The Liar. The award is given by the Crime Writer’s Association to the best crime novel of the year.
Praise for Steve Cavanagh
What a thriller! Breathlessly brilliant and fiendishly clever (Miranda Dickinson for The Liar)
I can’t wait to see more of Eddie Flynn (Mark Billingham)
Raymond Chandler could have created Eddie Flynn. THE PLEA is Phillip Marlowe and Michael Connolly’s Mickey Haller combined, with a bit of Jim Thompson’s THE GRIFTERS thrown in. A superb read with a main character destined to be one of the most talked about in crime fiction. (Howard Linskey)
A gripping, twisty thriller (Ian Rankin about The Defense)
Legal thrillers are my blind spot, but I’ll always make an exception for Steve Cavanagh. (John Connolly)
Steve Cavanagh Recommends
The best crime novel of the decade.