13 1/2: Book summary and reviews of 13 1/2 by Nevada Barr

13 1/2
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  • Published in USA  Sep 2009,
    320 pages.

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Book Summary

In 1971, the state of Minnesota was rocked by the “Butcher Boy” incident, as coverage of a family brutally murdered by one of their own swept across newspapers and television screens nationwide.

Now, in present-day New Orleans, Polly Deschamps finds herself at yet another lonely crossroads in her life. No stranger to tragedy, Polly was a runaway at the age of fifteen, escaping a nightmarish Mississippi childhood.

Lonely, that is, until she encounters architect Marshall Marchand. Polly is immediately smitten. She finds him attractive, charming, and intelligent. Marshall, a lifelong bachelor, spends most of his time with his brother Danny. When Polly’s two young daughters from her previous marriage are likewise taken with Marshall, she marries him. However, as Polly begins to settle into her new life, she becomes uneasy about her husband’s increasing dark moods, fearing that Danny may be influencing Marshall in ways she cannot understand.

But what of the ominous prediction by a New Orleans tarot card reader, who proclaims that Polly will murder her husband? What, if any, is the Marchands’ connection to the infamous “Butcher Boy” multiple homicide? And could Marshall and his eccentric brother be keeping a dark secret from Polly, one that will shatter the happiness she has forever prayed for?

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Reviews

Media Reviews

"Starred Review. Barr artfully unfolds this mystery of wickedness and pain in eerie post-Katrina New Orleans...a terrifying, utterly convincing glimpse into the abyss." - Publishers Weekly

"Starred Review. Keep the lights on while reading this intense psychological thriller. The tension's so tight you'll be rethinking every motive and clue up to the finale." - Library Journal

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Rated 4 of 5 of 5 by CarolK
13 1/2 is 100 Suspense
If you're expecting Anna Pigeon, put the book down! I had to ask myself where did this one come from? Left field doesn't quite explain it, but 13 1/2 is so far removed from what I've read of Nevada Barr., it's almost like an evil, gleeful twin has taken over her writing hand. I liked it, in fact, I loved it. Many fans get angry when their favorite authors stray from the garden path. I embrace it. Bring it on, show me what you've got. And show me Ms. Barr did.

Spanning forty years, we're taken on a bloody, gruesome ride, that opens with the brutal slaying of eleven year old Dylan Raines's family; mother, father and baby sister, Lena. Brother Rich, hangs on by a thread, his leg hacked, bloody and bleeding, Dylan holds the ax that killed them all. Tried, convicted and off to prison Dylan goes, presumably to rot in jail, close the door, throw away the key. Still Rich stands by his brother, hates to see this young boy's life wasted, visits and supports him despite the awful crime and his own loss. Great characters, tight plot, fast paced psychological read. Though slightly predictable it didn't mar my enjoyment.

Barr's 13 1/2 should appeal to James Patterson fans and his ilk. The only comment I can add is Barr is better. Keep it up!

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Author Information

Nevada Barr Author Biography

"Nevada Barr has carved out her own fictional fiefdom, creating a body of work like no other," the San Diego Union Tribune remarked in 1996 upon the publication of the fifth book in Barr’s acclaimed series featuring National Park Service Ranger Anna Pigeon. Since the 1993 publication of the first Anna Pigeon novel, Track of the Cat, which was awarded both the Anthony Award for Best First Novel by The Crime Writers Association and the Agatha Award for Best First Novel by Malice Domestic, Barr has earned a reputation as a talented and much admired writer. As the Chicago Tribune said, "Nevada Barr is a park ranger who can write up a storm."

The daughter of two pilots, Barr bears the name of the state in which she was born but apparently was not named for the state but for a ...

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