Thirteen Hours is one of a number of books by South African author Deon Meyer that has been translated from Afrikaans into English. For me, though, there was still a difficulty with the names of the characters and places. The names are difficult to pronounce, and it was hard to remember who was who. There are also many cultural references in this novel that I just didn’t get.
Those are not criticisms of the book, just a warning to any reader who might be similarly challenged. Thirteen Hours is a crime novel which takes place in the space of, you guessed it, thirteen hours. The book begins, then, at 05:36-07:00. And so it goes. There are two new murders this morning in Cape Town. Detective Benny Griessel is mentoring the two new detectives who are investigating these crimes.
The first murder is that of an American tourist. Soon, Griessel learns that her friend is being hunted by a group of men who, presumably, are responsible for the murder. Find the girl, find the killers. But the girl is afraid of the police, and is hiding from them as well.
The second murder reported is that of a music mogul, whose body has been found in his bedroom by his hung-over wife. Signs point to her as the killer, but that is too obvious. There is much more to this than an aggrieved wife.
Most importantly, are these two crimes connected? How? Corruption is rampant in the Cape Town Police, and it may prevent Griessel from getting to the bottom of it all.
Thirteen Hours is a complex and compelling story. It just took me a while to get into and through it. If you have the time and the inclination, I’d recommend it.
Published in hardcover-Atlantic Monthly Press-2010
Softcover edition-Hodder & Stoughton-2011