Cut-Throat Defence - Olly Jarvis - Book Cover
Detective, Mystery & Thriller

Cut-Throat Defence – Olly Jarvis

Cut-Throat Defence is a fast-paced legal thriller featuring rookie solicitor Jack, terrified of speaking in court, facing the case of his life!


Jack Kowalski Thriller #1

This is the first Oliver Jarvis crime novel I’ve read and wow, I love it! I read this book in one session, it reminds me of Erle Stanley Gardner’s Perry Mason, but then again not: where Perry Mason has  detective Paul Drake at his disposal, not to mention a legal team under the very efficient Delia, barrister Jack Kowalski has to figure it out by himself, the hard way. Jack has his ‘Delia’, Lara Panassai, who stands by him, inspires and motivates him to do the right thing, no matter what the consequences.  It’s the loner, the outsider, against the system of justice, against the ‘silks’ as the eminent barristers are called. His client walks out on him but, if anything that makes Jack more determined to persevere, to seek justice, even at the cost of his own future as a barrister for “there is no richer man than one who has no price.”


After a tragic accident in which both her parents died, a young girl’s only person left is her grandmother. After the latter dies, the girl, Lara, is placed in childcare. A terribly shy young boy by the name of Janusz Kowalski finds himself unable to speak on his first day of school. The teacher decides his name will be Jack and so it will be. Twenty years later Lara is a rookie barrister and Jack a ditto solicitor, she is unhappy in her relationship, he is about to be thrown out of the law firm because of his stage fright in the courtroom. Fate wills that Jack and Lara team up for the challenge of a lifetime. Officer Finch, in the meantime, has made sure his beloved Manchester is safe by successfully smashing an international drug trafficking operation. The trial against the three major suspects will start soon and will be covered nationwide. Somehow Jack ends up in the middle of it because of one of the suspects, Marpit, dismisses his (experienced) lawyers.

Marpit decides to pick the first lawyer he sees, guess who that is? Yes, Jack! To confer with Marpit, a solicitor needs to be present and thus it happens that Lara accompanies Jack. They cannot believe their ears when Marpit tells them he is a police informant willing to testify against the other suspects but fears for his life because of that. He orders Jack to appeal for bail for him, based on a ‘cut-throat defence’ (one defendant testifies against the others). Now Jack not only has to face the dreaded courtroom again but for the first time in his life will have to face a High Court judge. Miraculously, Jack succeeds in securing bail for Marpit. As Jack is preparing for court to his best ability, his defendant has gone missing. The experienced lawyers urge Jack to withdraw his representation of Marpit, clearly a lying criminal and now also a fugitive. Even a tempting job offer is laid before Jack who has, as we know, never fought a major case like this.

Will Jack stand before the High Court judge and challenge the ‘silks’, the distinguished lawyers of the other two defendants, and defy the prosecutor, the eminent Queen’s Counsel? Is he able to overcome his stage fright and act on behalf of his client, even in his absence? This is a crucial moment in which Jack needs to do the right thing regardless of the consequences for himself. What follows is a roller coaster of courtroom sessions, of questioning witnesses and posing theories without having a clue where it will lead. Other clients are incriminated, mutilated and murdered and the threats come close to home when Jack’s father is targeted. It’s a nerve-wracking plot, most of all for Jack who feels defeated, humiliated and beaten. On several occasions, he feels like giving up. Will he find the inner strength to withstand the jokes and dismissive behaviour aimed at him? There are sharks and dolphins in the ocean of law, but which is which?

My Thoughts

I loved this fascinating legal thriller, written in such a captivating style. It is an intriguing and exciting thriller, drawing you in with the characters and the descriptions of the courtroom scenes set against the harsh reality or murder, tortures and threats coming close to home. It is easy to recognise in Jack the fears of failing, how he struggles to handle the growing pressure and time after time is in desperate need for another solution, yet another line of defence. I can highly recommend it and look forward to the next Jack Kowalski thriller!

About the Author

Olly Jarvis Author Image

Olly Jarvis is a writer and criminal defence barrister, originally from London but now based in Manchester. Drawing on his experiences he writes both fiction and non-fiction with a particular understanding of the pressures and excitement of life in the English courtroom. He wrote the highly acclaimed Radio 4 drama Judgement. His first novel ‘Death By Dangerous’ (2015) was long-listed for the CWA Debut Dagger.

Book Info

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 Kindle Edition   465 KB (292 pages)
 Publisher   Canelo (3 Oct. 2016)
 Language  English

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