Thirteen by Steve Cavanagh

four and a half dragons

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Publication Date August 13th, 2019

A big thank you to Steve Cavanagh, NetGalley, and Flatiron Books for giving me this digital ARC of Thirteen in exchange for an honest review.

Like many other people, I like reading about serial killers. Now I prefer reading fiction with serial killers because I’m not as horrified at each death because it is fictitious. Knowing they exist in real life and are active is beyond horrifying. I find myself watching people at Wal-Mart and trying to peg the most likely person to be a serial killer though of course, I pick the lonely looking older white males so I’m probably wrong. Hopefully, I’m wrong.

I saw that Thirteen is the fourth in the Eddie Flynn series but, after reading the synopsis, decided that it would probably work as a standalone. And it did so very well. Even though there is backstory with Eddie Flynn and his wife and child it wasn’t hard to follow along with what was happening now.

Cavanagh did a particularly difficult thing by revealing and not revealing the killer. We know who the killer is, his real name, his real feelings, etc. However, it’s still a shock when the killer’s alias is revealed. If you’ve read the tagline then you already know the killer ends up on the jury. Even though readers get to know all his moves and thoughts they are still shocked by which juror he turns out to be. Definitely, a difficult writing technique to do well.

Occasionally the story was jumpy with one thing happening fully and then another perspective would take over from a few minutes back, but this was the best way to hold onto the intensity and it didn’t detract much.

Cavanagh gets extra points for how the title changed meaning throughout the book. From meaning that he was the 13th juror to several other meanings that I can’t share without a ***spoiler warning*** like when it came to mean the 13 colonies and then it was the 13th case, etc. ***end of spoiler***

I thought I would be bored with the courtroom parts, but I wasn’t. Cavanagh drew me into the intricacies needed to win a court case and all the ways it can go wrong no matter how well you’ve planned for it. Knowing the killer was right there throughout it all added nicely to the suspense. Then Flynn had other big bads to face than just the killer. Being a lawyer, especially a criminal defense lawyer cannot be easy when both sides of the law are against you.

Flynn was such an enjoyable character with a chip on his shoulder from having to separate from his family and yet he wouldn’t compromise his values. If he believed an innocent person might go to jail he would do everything in his power, at great danger and loss to himself, to prevent that from happening. And this compassion comes through loud and clear in the writing. He doesn’t let anything stand in the way even getting the crap beat out of him. Flynn is a truly likable character.

There is a fair share of gruesome scenes, but nothing as bad as most cop shows playing today. There is almost no detail of torture or killing so it’s almost a clean serial killer book for lack of a better word.

If you want to read a book that will make you worry just a little bit more about your neighbors, then this would be a great book to pick up. I would recommend this for readers of courtroom dramas and those with an interest in serial killers and how they get caught.

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