Cut-Throat Defence by Olly Jarvis

This book was published in ebook by Canelo on 3rd October 2016. My thanks to the Publisher and the Author for my review copy.

There is no man richer than a man without a price

Jack Kowalski is a young and newly qualified barrister, who finds himself working on the biggest drugs importation trial ever played out on English soil. With the assistance of his equally inexperienced instructing solicitor, Lara Panassai, Jack argues a savage ‘cut-throat’ defence – a risky tactic where the defendants blame each other – and quickly embroils some of the most eminent QCs in the land.
As the son of Polish immigrants, the sensitive Kowalski has always found it hard to fit in, with a sense of inferiority and constant nervousness in Court. Now he must face his demons and fight not only for his clients, but for his very future at the Bar.
But when the defendant then unexpectedly absconds, Jack and Lara must fight on regardless, following a tip that leads them out of the courtroom and into Manchester’s seedy underworld – crime bosses, strip clubs, corrupt lawyers and all manner of hidden sins.
As the case grows darker with each new discovery, who in this viper pit of deception can Jack and Lara trust?
Ingeniously plotted and embellished with real-life insider expertise, Cut-Throat Defence is a story of rivalry, ruthlessness and – above all – survival.

My Thoughts:

I was delighted to read this new book from Olly Jarvis having read and loved Death by Dangerous last year. If you would like to see my review for that one, you can do so here.

This book carries what is now becoming this authors trademark, a legal thriller with real edge and depth of plot with characters that stick around in the mind long after the story and the trial are over. I was hooked into the clutches of this story from the very first page.

Back in the day I read a lot of John Grisham, after a while I stepped away from those as I found the court scenes too arduous or similar. Olly Jarvis keeps this story alive with a frenetic pace and interesting and exciting scenes. Somewhat of an adrenalin rush to read and see if the culprit gets their just desserts. There is a razor sharp wit in there too which rounds the plot of nicely.

Set in gangland Manchester, this brings something new to the genre as we are faced with drugs, murder and threatening behaviour. Also new is Barrister Jack Kowalski, he is young and newly qualified, at first it seems that he is not going to make it, he seems to lack the respect of a lot of colleagues and has made some poor decisions. This character was a fantastic way to portray how hard a legal team have to work and sometimes I imagine not for much money. I loved Jack and what he brought to the story.

Olly Jarvis uses the depth of his experience to bring the reader an intricate and engaging plot. He manages to create scenes where the reader feels like that are actually in the gallery watching the case unfold. There were plenty of twists and cliffhangers to keep me turning the page. The legal jargon never got boring and actually I found it fascinating.

This book was gripping and I would have no fear in going back to this author time and time again. I would actually particularly love to read some more about Jack Kowalski.

If legal thrillers are your thing then you need look no further than Olly Jarvis. 

About the Author:
Olly Jarvis is a writer and criminal defence barrister, originally from London but now working 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 courtroom. He wrote the highly acclaimed Radio 4 drama Judgement, and wrote and presented the BBC documentary Mum Knows Best. He is also the author of Death by Dangerous. Olly has two children and lives in Cheshire.
You can find him on Twitter: @OllyJarviso


  1. I loved this book too,and can agree with all you say in your review. I too look forward to more from Jarvis.

    1. Hi Amanda,

      Thanks for stopping by. I am glad you enjoy this author too. x