Fifty Fifty by Steve Cavanagh
I'm starting today's blog post by talking about a TV programme. Are you watching 'Between the Covers' at all? This is a programme on the BBC (available on iplayer) presented by Sara Cox featuring a panel of 4 celebrities talking about books. Each celebrity brings in their own favourite book and discusses why it is so important to them. One of the panel has usually written a book and that too is dissected and then the panel discuss a different specially picked Book Club choice which is accompanied by the author reading from the novel and talking about why they have written it. This has been fascinating and I have added a few books to my 'wants' list already.
I am seriously enjoying this programme. It is the perfect antidote to lockdown, especially as books are being lent and borrowed and mini book-clubs are being formed. We too have formed a mini-book club of our own with my in-laws and after seeing this on 'Between the `Covers' we all chose to read and discuss 'Fifty Fifty'. We haven't quite had the discussion yet, but I can't wait to see what the others thought.
Two sisters accuse each other of brutally murdering their father. One of them is innocent and one of them is guilty but which one?
This is a rip-roaring fast paced thriller that does not let up. I read this over 2 days, even in the middle of the night and I could not put it down.
The chapters are told mainly from the perspective of Eddie and Kate, the 2 lawyers representing the individual sisters and a further perspective is provided by 'She' who is one of the Sisters and the killer. Steve Cavanagh has very cleverly woven the story so it is hard to guess who is the mysterious 'She'. Clues are provided and I found myself leaping on them with a flourishing 'A-Ha!' only to find the other Sister could also have caused the clue. It is a fantastic plot device and one which will keep you guessing right to the very end.
Eddie and Kate are engaging. Eddie is a former conman turned lawyer and Kate is a brilliant lawyer enduring harassment at her top law firm. The heart of the story for me lies in the supporting cast though; Harry, Harper and Bloch mainly because neither of the sisters are particularly likeable.
There is a moment during the book where something quite shocking happens (I'm trying to give nothing away here!). I read this in the middle of the night and sat for a moment with my mouth in a perfect 'o' shape, contemplating waking my sleeping husband. I did not see it coming. I let my husband sleep on with my heart racing.
As a bit of fun, my husband and I at the end of the first part wrote on a slip of paper who we thought the murderer was. Whilst we had both guessed correctly, I spent the majority of the novel convinced I had chosen the wrong sister.
In the interview on 'Between the Covers' Steve Cavanagh said he wanted the novel to be a comment on the American legal system and he certainly does not hold back! Kate's law firm is full of white, privileged males with little of a moral compass. The women there are treated as objects, the best jobs given to the men, harassed and held back in their own careers in favour of men. Members of the legal system join male only 'clubs', often with far right leanings in order to secure favours in court. The most damning comment though is that being innocent means you will not necessarily be acquitted. Sometimes it seems better to take a 'deal' and do time, even if you never committed the crime. Justice often comes down to who is the better lawyer in court, the better at arguing a case regardless of innocence and guilt. This makes for bleak reading indeed.
I loved this book which I could not put down. It is fast paced with great characters and a fascinating premise. I am very keen to read more of the Eddie Flynn novels.