Summary and book reviews of Thirteen Hours by Deon Meyer

Thirteen Hours

A Novel

By Deon Meyer

Thirteen Hours
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  • Hardcover: Sep 2010,
    384 pages.
    Paperback: Sep 2011,
    560 pages.

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Book Summary

Some would call Detective Benny Griessel a legend. Others would call him a drunk.

Either way, he has trodden on too many toes over the years ever to reach the top of the promotion ladder, and now he concentrates on staying sober and mentoring the new generation of crime fighters - mixed race, Xhosa and Zulu. But when an American backpacker disappears in Cape Town, panicked politicians know who to call: Benny has just thirteen hours to save the girl, save his career, and crack open a conspiracy, which threatens the whole country.

05:36–07:00

05:36: a girl runs up the steep slope of Lion’s Head. The sound of her running shoes urgent on the broad footpath’s gravel.

At this moment, as the sun’s rays pick her out like a searchlight against the mountain, she is the image of carefree grace. Seen from behind, her dark plait bounces against the little rucksack. Her neck is deeply tanned against the powder blue of her T-shirt. There is energy in the rhythmic stride of her long legs in denim shorts. She personifies athletic youth – vigorous, healthy, focused. Until she stops and looks back over her left shoulder. Then the illusion disintegrates. There is anxiety in her face. And utter exhaustion.

She does not see the impressive beauty of the city in the rising sun’s soft light. Her frightened eyes search wildly for movement in the tall fynbos shrubbery behind her. She knows they are there, but not how near. Her breath races – from exertion, shock and fear. It is ...

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Reviews

BookBrowse

Deon Meyer's engrossing South African thriller pits Detective Benny Griessel against a mystery that unravels like the threads of a complex tapestry... Because the novel is set in contemporary South Africa, race relations and the legacy of apartheid are an inevitable topic, and Meyer works his social commentary into the story while remaining true to his characters... Thirteen Hours draws to a satisfying conclusion, with answers that prove surprising. You'll be glad that you invested your thirteen (or so) hours with this book.   (Reviewed by Cindy Anderson).

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Media Reviews
Mail & Guardian (South Africa)

[Meyer's] novels are so engaging that you can easily get paper cuts from turning pages too fast. ...Thirteen Hours is a ripping good read guaranteed to keep you up until the last word.

The South African Star (South Africa)

In Meyer we have more than a writer who entertains, and also more than a novelist who educates us about… 'little cultural differences': his greatest attribute is that he sets us thinking about ourselves and our country and our future. Painlessly.

Financial Times (UK)

A smashing story. Imposing a strict time limit and a tight location on his plot, [Meyer] ramps up the suspense to an unbearable degree. Best of all, his sharply drawn characters really feel part of the new South Africa, where loyalties and beliefs must always be questioned.

The Sunday Times (UK)

Twenty years after the release of Nelson Mandela, South Africa remains a troubled place, and Meyer's novels give rare insights into the texture of everyday life. Above all, though, [Thirteen Hours] is a vigorous, exciting novel that combines memorable characters and plot with edge-of-the-seat suspense.

Metro (UK)

The staccato story slips back and forth between the various strands at a breathless clip, doling out nuggets of plot in just the right amounts to have us salivating to know more.

Publishers Weekly

While the windup doesn't match the pulse-pounding opening scenes, this crime novel does further enhance Meyer's reputation as a deft storyteller.

Library Journal

Starred Review. A vividly drawn locale where political considerations affect everything, cliff-hanging suspense, and shocking plot twists, Meyer again has produced a winner. Highly recommended.

Booklist

Starred Review. Meyer... steeps his novel in the day-to-day life of a country still reeling in the wake of radical transition.

Globe and Mail

There have been other South African crime novelists, but none are as deft at place as Deon Meyer. Thirteen Hours is Cape Town today, with all its exquisite beauty, tribal conflicts, loyalties and corruptions. …Meyer weaves all this into a tightly plotted story – with a twist that works beautifully – and unforgettable characters.

Reader Reviews
Nancie

Compelling
Discovered Deon Meyer quite by accident; picked up Thirteen Hours in large print at my local library. It was a can't put 'em down story which brought back memories of places I visited when in Cape Town, South Africa in 2008. I emailed my South ...   Read More

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Apartheid and Race Relations in South Africa

Apartheid ("separateness", pronounced "apar-tate" in Afrikaans, although many English speakers say "apar-tide") was a government-enforced system of racial segregation instituted in South Africa (map) in 1948. Control of the government at that time was held by White Afrikaners, descendants of Dutch colonists who started to arrive in 1652, as well as descendants of British immigrants from the early 19th century onwards.* Under Apartheid, citizens were classified into three race categories:  White, Coloured (people of mixed race), and Black (or Bantu). An additional category of Asian (which included Indians and Pakistanis) was later added.

Although racial segregation was not new in South Africa, between 1948 and 1994 laws were...

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