Thirteen by Steve Cavanagh
Some books have you at hello. The tagline for Thirteen is: the serial killer isn’t on trial, he’s
on the jury. And as soon as I saw it, I knew I had to get my hands on this book. In the
crowded, diverse and jam-packed full of talent genre of fiction that is crime, this is a premise of solid gold.
The book’s perspective on events at this extraordinary trial is split between talented lawyer and former conman Eddie Flynn (who has been the hero of three previous books by Cavanagh, although this is one of those rare occasions where starting midway through a
series, as I did, really doesn’t matter at all), and the first person perspective of the serial killer himself.
A Hollywood megastar is on the stand, charged with murdering his equally famous wife.
Flynn is defending him, not for the money or the glory (which is the motivation for plenty of
the lawyers in the book) but because he genuinely believes he is innocent. The strategy for
clearing his client includes finding the real killer, but, as he embarks on this hunt, Flynn has
no idea the extent of his prey’s crimes, or quite how close by he is.
What is so impressive about this book is how believable Cavanagh manages to make it all
seem. The process by which a murderer engineers a place for himself on a jury seems
completely plausible in his hands, as does the plethora of action, twists and turns that follow.
And it is a stonking page turning, crammed full of tension, which is no mean feat either in a
book where we are given the perspective of the killer as well as our hero searching for him,
and dramatic irony abounds.
Flynn’s colleague and right-hand woman in mystery solving, former cop Harper, is also a
masterstroke. She is one of those characters who lights up every page she appears on; I
definitely fell a little bit in love with her.
It wasn’t necessary to read Cavanagh’s former books to enjoy this one, but I do want to go
and read them all now on the strength of this. There was a danger that such an original
premise would be all gimmick and no trousers. But I needn’t have worried. This book has
trousers in truckloads.