Thirteen Hours by Deon Meyer


13_hours_uk Meyer, D. Thirteen Hours. Translated from Afrikaans by K. L. Seegers. Hodder and Stoughton 2010. 412 pages. ISBN 978-0-340-95359-4.

This is the fifth book I have read from the 2010 CWA International Dagger Award shortlist.

Set in Cape Town Thirteen Hours tells the story of a real time persecution. Rachel Anderson, a young American backpacker, is running to save her live. She saw how her travelling friend was murdered, she does not trust the police and the killers are behind her. But the reason for this will remain hidden during most part of the book.

The main character, Detective Benny Griessel, ought to be grateful for not having been posted to a station like most of his colleagues. He still has a job after twenty-five years in the Force. He has also a past history of drinking and his wife has kicked him out of the house, although he is looking forward to meet her at the end of the day after being sober for one hundred and fifty-six days.

Following to the dissolution of the Serious and Violent Crime Unit, Griessel is now a ‘mentor’ to a group of young black and mixed race police detectives in the Provincial Task Force. None of them very enthusiastic with the exception of Vusi Ndabeni and one, Fransman Dekker, openly antagonistic.

Griessel has to oversee the case of the young American tourist killed while trying to find Rachel Anderson as he had promised to her father. At the same time another body has been found, Adam Barnard, a prominent record producer with an alcoholic wife, the ex-singer Alexandra Barnard, has been murdered….

Thirteen Hours is a fast paced thriller, very well crafted. It has a brilliant and intelligent plot with well drawn characters and a great sense of place. We are introduced to some insights into present day South Africa, an additional bonus. I have enjoyed it thoroughly. A very pleasant read. For me another strong candidate to win the 2010 International Dagger Award. I have Devil’s Peak in my TBR pile and can hardly wait to start reading it.

Deon Meyer was born in the South African town of Paarl in the wine region of the Western Cape in 1958, and grew up in Klerksdorp, in the gold mining region of Northwest Provence. He has worked as press liaison, advertising copywriter, creative director, web manager, Internet strategist, and brand consultant. In 1994 he published his first Afrikaans novel, which has not been translated, “simply because it was not good enough to compete on the international market. However, it was a wonderful learning experience“. Thirteen Hours is his sixth book translated into English.

For additional information see Deon Meyer’s website

Thirteen Hours has been reviewed at Euro Crime, International Noir Fiction, Crime Scraps, Mysteries in Paradise, Reactions to Reading, Material Witness, Reviewing the Evidence, The Complete Review.

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7 thoughts on “Thirteen Hours by Deon Meyer

  1. >Great review, Jose Ignacio. And in good time for the revelation of the winner! I really liked this book, though I think the ending was not so great. Never mind, though, I am looking forward to reading all his previous books (I've read two and have three more to go.)

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