13 Hours by Deon Meyer (Atlantic Monthly Press)
13 Hours is a fast-paced, world-class thriller. An engrossing read with a uniquely South African flavour that has you breathless as the characters race against time through the streets of Cape Town. Beware when you start this book: it will be almost impossible to put it down until it is finished.
After reading Blood Safari, I have been a huge fan of Deon Meyer and his books. He is a South African writer, who writes his thrillers in Afrikaans.
These brilliant books are set in South Africa, with uniquely South African themes, settings and characters. The stories are translated in English, and sell well all over the world. My high expectations of 13 Hours were well met.
The story plays out over a period of 13 hours. It starts at 05h36, with an American girl fleeing in terror from her pursuers, running on the slopes of Lion’s Head and the streets of Cape Town. Her friend has been murdered by them, and they are looking for her too.
Who will get to her first, the killers, or the police?
As if the police aren’t hampered enough by power cuts and their inability to work together, they also have to investigate the murder of a controversial music-industry executive. Tensions run high as the demands of solving the two cases keep interrupting each other.
As in all Deon Meyer’s books, the characters are real, flawed, human. They all battle against their own uncertainties. Benny Griessel is an Afrikaans police officer, whose marriage is failing and who has been sober for 6 months.
He is an experienced Detective Inspector who no longer really fits in the new Police Service, but who still loves his job and has a lot to offer.
His colleagues are politically and racially diverse, and this causes tension and conflict between them. The insight into the politics between the characters is honest and insightful, adding to the story but never eclipsing it.
The intricacies and politics of the music industry and the police force are woven into the story, adding depth and background to a very satisfying book.