Shortlisted for the CWA International Dagger Award 2010
They killed her best friend.
Now they are chasing Rachel Anderson through the streets of Cape Town.
The young tourist doesn’t dare trust anyone – except her father, back home in America.
When he puts pressure on the politicians, they know that to protect their country’s image, they must find Rachel’s hiding place before the killers.
So Benny Griessel – detective, maverick and father of teenagers himself – has just 13 hours to crack open a conspiracy which threatens the whole country.
Deon Meyer, was born in South Africa in the winelands of the Western Cape, growing up in the gold mining region of Northwest Province, and now living on the South African West Coast, with his wife and family.
Even as a child, he had a keen interest in writing, although after some negative feedback from his siblings, this idea was put on hold until much later in his life.
After studying at university, followed by a tour of military service, Deon had quite a varied range of career moves, before he picked up his literary career and started writing short stories for South African magazines.
Deon remains convinced that short story writing gave him a firm grounding, on which to expand his career into full length novels, when he took up writing full time in 2008.
He believes in doing as much hands-on research as possible once he has an idea for a story, whether it be working with the police, or out on the streets with his characters.
He prefers to write in his native Afrikaans, although he speaks perfect English. He has two lines of thought behind this decision, the first being that Afrikaans is his native language and he feels that he should respect that fact and use it whenever possible, then there is the challenge of ‘thinking’ in English which is much more difficult than the spoken word.
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“They killed her best friend”
This is the second Deon Meyer book I have read and like Devil’s Peak, Thirteen Hours is a real page-turner that gripped me from the first word, to the very last.
The clock is ticking from the word go, as thirteen hours is the deadline to solve the case of the American teenage tourist who is brutally murdered, the tension being heightened even more with the book being broken down into time-lined chapters, making me ultra aware of the passing of minutes, indeed seconds!!
The storyline is gripping and full of tension, as a police system in seeming disarray, undermanned with insufficiently trained, inexperienced officers; who come up against a system full of corruption, racial and sexual prejudices, strive to bring two separate, seemingly unrelated murders, to satisfactory conclusions, whilst maintaining some level of integrity and professionalism.
The build-up is cleverly crafted and full of suspense, as the two apparently divergent cases, slowly begin to have common links, with clues and information being introduced sporadically during the course of the day. The book jumps between plots frequently as the action hots up and Benny Griessel fights to keep control of the situation in both investigations, in his role of mentor to the new recruits that have been assigned as investigating officers.
The pace of the plot has natural peaks and troughs as we take short breaks from the action, which carries on in the background, when new clues are introduced, thus linking a fast paced action novel with the more methodical aspects of a police procedural, a format which worked well for me and held my interest throughout.
The characters are totally real and believable; from their barely concealed racial views; acceptance as the norm of the corruption within the force by colleagues, on whom their life may ultimately depend; animosity towards DI Benny Griessel, who they see as a drunken has-been and certainly not fit to be their case mentor, especially when they get to know of his promotion to Captain, meted out as a way of testing securing his loyalty and integrity.
In Benny himself, still on the rocky road to recovery from his alcoholism, we start to see a shadow of the former man emerging, scarred and scared, fearing his wife and family’s rejection and afraid of his own mortality.
He is gaining an inner strength all the time, as his mentees realise that his skill in case solving has not diminished and begin to establish a strong working relationship with him. He is even able to take the ultimate blow, with some degree of equanimity and we leave him busily trying to re-invent himself and restore his battered pride
The only observation that I would make, is that there seemed to be many more words in this book, which were in the author’s native Africaans and left untranslated. However, as many of these words were either derogatory slang words or swear words, then maybe that is not such a bad thing. In fact I did consider that this may have been orchestrated intentionally to make the book more of a social statement about the trials and tribulations that still prevail, in the life of a modern day South Africa. ‘Devil’s peak’ could have been set in any modern day, mulit-cultural society, however, ‘Thirteen Hours’ has it’s roots firmly set in the soil of a post apartheid SA, that is still struggling to come to terms with it’s new found racial freedom and unable to shake off the inherent corruption and violence that has hitherto been prevalant.
Thoroughly Recommended: … 4 out of 5
This book was a review copy, sent to me by the publisher ‘Hodder & Stoughton’ and as such, was free of charge.
This in no way influenced any comments I may have expressed about the book, in any review I may have compiled. Any thoughts or comments are my own personal opinion and I am in no way being monetarily compensated for this review.
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