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A Gripping Page-Turner, A South-African Nightmare,
This review is from: Thirteen Hours (Benny Griessel) (Paperback)
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 prevelant.
A gripping, insightful read, that kept me on the edge of my seat until the very last page. Brilliantly executed by Deon Meyer