Wednesday, November 3, 2010

BOOK: Thirteen Hours by Deon Meyer

Thirteen Hours by Deon Meyer, 408 pages

RIP V; Global Reading Challenge: Africa

This is another of the books I read about at Kerrie's Mysteries in Paradise during her write up about the nominees for the CWA International Dagger during the summer. Two of the nominated books (Hypothermia by Indridason and August Heat by Camilleri) are from two of my favorite mystery series. The Girl Who Played with Fire, second in that well known series, was also nominated. When I saw three very excellent books nominated, it certainly drew my attention to the other three books. I liked The Darkest Room earlier this month, but with Thirteen Hours, I have found a new author and series to follow. This was excellent!

Inspector Bennie Griessel works in Cape Town, South Africa. When he is awaken early one morning to investigate a murder, he has no idea how crazy his day will become. The first murder is a young American tourist, and the police quickly discover that her friend is running, running and being chased by these murderers, a group of young men. Bennie has recently been assigned to mentor some young detectives, so he doesn't even get to run the investigation, just advise. Before they can get too far, Bennie is called to another murder, with another detective to mentor. The rest of the book follows real time, for the next thirteen hours.

The plot is tight and fast, switching from both investigations, along with the girl who is being chased. This back and forth action keeps the pages turning. Meyer deftly juggles all the characters and action, and has written characters with many layers and motives. Bennie is celebrating six months sobriety and is hoping for the return of his family after losing them from his drinking. The mentor detectives have their own issues and strengths.

Apparently this is the second novel in the series about Bennie, but I had no trouble following the story or characters. If anything, I want to read the first even more, Devil's Peak. It is most like a police procedural, a type of mystery I always enjoy. Modern South Africa, with its racial conflicts provides a fascinating setting for this great mystery series.