Sunday, 8 July 2018

Review: 'Thirteen' by Steve Cavanagh

I adore crime thrillers! Give me all the mystery, the twisted minds, the detectives or private investigators putting it all on the line to get their bad guy. It's a predictable story line, usually, which is part of why the genre is so comfortable. You go in expecting to be shocked, to be horrified but to know, in the end, that evil has been locked away and everything is once again safe. So naturally I jump at every chance to read a new thriller come my way and Thirteen was the latest. Thanks to Orion Publishing Group and Netgalley for providing me with a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Pub. Date: 14/06/2018
Publisher: Orion Publishing Group

They were Hollywood's hottest power couple. They had the world at their feet. Now one of them is dead and Hollywood star Robert Solomon is charged with the brutal murder of his beautiful wife. 
This is the celebrity murder trial of the century and the defence want one man on their team: con artist turned lawyer Eddie Flynn. 
All the evidence points to Robert's guilt, but as the trial begins a series of sinister incidents in the court room start to raise doubts in Eddie's mind. 
What if there's more than one actor in the courtroom? 
What if the killer isn't on trial? What if the killer is on the jury?

Part of my love for psychological or crime thrillers comes from how they let us face the dark without forcing us to actually encounter it. Everyone has a bit of darkness inside them and always suppressing it can lead to bad things (watch The Babadook and you'll see why!). We also love to be horrified, it is why horror is such a potent genre. It goes back to Julia Kristeva's theory of the abject. It is what disturbs our normal order, it is how we define what is 'of us' and what isn't, it is how we place boundaries between our society and everything outside of it. We define ourselves by saying what isn't us or shouldn't be us. I think the same comes into play with these kinds of novels (and films). We read about what horrifies us, fear it, and overcome it, making these novels a kind of catharsis. Some of them are more on the pure entertainment side, while others dig more deeply into our psyche, but I enjoy almost all of them. And yet, as I said above, some of them can be a bit repetitive, the story lines of various novels blending into one another

Thirteen is a great twist on the usual psychological thrillers, as the blurb tells. Initially I was worried that too much had been given away. From the beginning we know of a killer trying to get on the jury for the trial of a murder most likely committed by him. From the very beginning we follow both Eddie Flynn, a lawyer standing up for the little folk, averse to corrupt police officers and overcoming his own personal demons, as well as Joshua Kane, the murderer, the mysterious jury member. My worry was how Cavanagh would maintain the novel's pace and suspense if both sides were plain to see for the reader, and the middle of the novel did flag here or there. Going through the trial, seeing it from both Flynn and Kane's points of view, was interesting but there is a sense of just waiting for the big reveal, for the moment when our hero and villain clash. Some of the twists were straightforward and expected, but then towards the end there was a twist that literally made me gasp out loud. And that is when I realized that Cavanagh had been playing with the reader and the genre. Just like both of the protagonists, we have certain expectations of where the plot will go, what the characters will do, who is good and who is bad. I majorly enjoyed the twist, but I still wish the cover and blurb didn't give quite so much away.

Steve Cavanagh knows what the readers want. His narrative is driven and moves at a good pace, not lingering too long on things that don't need it but providing enough background for his characters and their actions. Thirteen is less focused on the crime than on the legal side of things and Cavanagh really knows how to ramp up the tension of the courtroom. I had never read a Steve Cavanagh book before and only guessed around halfway through the book that it was part of a series. This is indeed the 4th book in Cavanagh's Eddie Flynn series, but thankfully there was no sense of having missed out on something. Everything I presume had come before was nicely fed into the narrative in a way that didn't feel forced. I didn't feel as attached to the characters as has happened before but I enjoyed spending a few hours in their company. I would definitely check out another Steve Cavanagh book, although I'm not necessarily out to hunt down the other Eddie Flynn books.

I give this novel...

3 Universes!

I really enjoyed Thirteen and its surprises. Cavanagh moved through his plot at a great pace and I always found myself curious as to where he would take us next. I'd definitely recommend this to any fans of legal and crime thrillers!

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