Thirteen Hours

Thirteen Hours

Book - 2010
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It's early morning in Cape Town and Bennie Griessel, homicide detective with the South African Police Service, has a bad feeling. He's been sober for nearly six months--156 days. But day 157 is going to be tough. A teenage girl's body has been found on the street, her throat cut. The girl was an American--a P.R. nightmare in the #1 tourist destination in South African. And she wasn't alone. Somewhere in Cape town her friend, Rachel Anderson, an innocent American girl, is hopefully still alive.

In Thirteen Hours , the latest from the man hailed as the "King of South African Crime," Detective Griessel races against the clock to unravel two murders and track down Rachel Anderson in a single day. The book opens with Rachel on the run, terrified and unsure of where to turn. She manages to hide, but overhears one of the men say something about calling "their police." Can she even turn to the cops? Then the men spot her, and she takes off again. The chase is unrelenting. Meyer is an expert at grabbing the reader and refusing to let go. The pages fly by with a sense of desperation for Rachel's safety and a burning curiosity for why the men are after her--a secret Meyer keeps until the final pages.

There is a second murder investigation in Thirteen Hours , and it's fascinating. An alcoholic singer wakes up next to a gun and her husband's dead body. A famous lothario music producer, Adam had a few people who might have wanted him dead, including the husband of a gospel singer who committed "the Big Sin" with Adam on his desk the day before. Bennie Griessel dives into the case. He has real sympathy for Alexa, the suffering alcoholic. Temptation is never far away for Bennie, and seeing how her first drink eases her pains is dangerous. He also has some well-founded doubts about the crime scene. Adam was shot late at night, when Alexa would have been drunk and incapacitated. What's more, there are no shell casings from the spent rounds; Adam was killed elsewhere.

Meanwhile a telephone rings in a suburban home in Indiana. Rachel has managed to reach a pay phone in a deli and call her parents. They are distraught, desperate to help and start making their own calls. Phones start ringing around the country, up the political ladder, reaching across to the U.S. Ambassador in Pretoria, the South African police, and finally Bennie Griessel. He vows to Rachel's father that he won't rest until he finds her, and he doesn't rest, racing to track her down and bring her home safe.

Thirteen Hours was a #1 bestseller in South Africa, and received excellent reviews. "So engaging you can get paper cuts from turning pages too fast," the Mail & Guardian said. Another paper raved "the message is simple: Thirteen Hours is available, it does not matter how much it costs, just go buy it." ( Beeld ) It is that good. It's atmospheric--you get a sense of Cape Town as an outsider and an insider--and gripping from page one. You simply can't put it down.
Publisher: New York : Atlantic Monthly Press, [2010], c2009.
Edition: First American edition
ISBN: 9780802119582
Branch Call Number: MEYER D
Characteristics: 412 pages ; 24 cm.


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May 31, 2017

"Thirteen Hours" is a classic page-turner...some of the best crime thriller writing around today. Highly recommended.

Dec 17, 2013

I read this entire book on the edge of my seat. Great suspense. The setting in post-apartheid South Africa gave the plot more depth than your average thriller/suspense type novel.

sit_walk Feb 04, 2013

Really nice thriller -- well-written and insanely paced!

JCLJanineM Oct 27, 2010

Sometimes you know when you read the first page of a book that it’s going to be a great read. "Thirteen Hours" by Deon Meyer is just that—a thrilling police procedural that is difficult to put down.

The story opens with Rachel Anderson, an American teenager, running for her life down the streets of Cape Town, South Africa, chased by five men who have just slit the throat of her best friend, Erin Russel. How did their backpacking trip of a lifetime all go so wrong? Detective Inspector Benny Griessel, a recovering alcoholic separated from his wife, has been assigned to oversee the unseasoned detectives investigating Erin’s death and to find and save Rachel from the same fate.

At about the same time, in another part of the city, the famous Afrikaans music producer, Adam Barnard, is found dead in his library. Lying nearby, awakened from her drunken sleep by the housekeeper’s screams, is his wife, Alexandra, with a pistol on the floor beside her. Now there are two murders to investigate but no additional detectives. And Rachel’s time is running out; Benny knows she can’t evade her pursuers much longer.

"Thirteen Hours" is a breakaway entry in a field of also-ran read-alike thrillers. In rapid-fire bursts detailing simultaneous actions occurring across the Cape Town landscape, Meyer lets you experience the events as they happen so that even as you are caught up in the questioning of Alexandra you are wondering what is happening to Rachel and whether Benny is making any progress in the race to save Rachel. And all the principal characters are fully drawn--from white Benny with his domestic failures, to the angry black Dekker, to the eager "coloured" Vusi--Meyer paints a very vivid portrait of the cultural and political complexities in post-Apartheid South Africa. This is the most satisfying thriller I can remember reading. I can't wait to read the award-winning Meyer's other novels.

Sep 05, 2010

After really enjoying the first two novels, I was looking forward to this one, but was greatly disappointed. It is convoluted, disjointed and has far too many story lines and people to keep track of. Half way through I really didn't care and would have left it there if the library had been open to get something else.


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