43) Thirteen by Steve Cavanagh
If there is a finer strapline on the front of a book this year than “The serial killer’s not on trial….he’s on the jury”, then I will be surprised. And that pulled me in to read this page-turner from Steve Cavanagh which doesn’t disappoint. Well, it disappoints if you are not prepared to suspend disbelief, because there are some preposterous moments here, as said serial killer (who is genuinely chilling) manages to get himself on the jury and simultaneously get away with a whole host of murders on the run in to the trial. But it doesn’t disappoint if you want to escape the humdrum mundanity of life or the terrifying apocalypto-future of Trump & Brexit.
All that said, I thought it was hugely enjoyable – I hadn’t read any of Cavanagh’s previous Eddie Flynn books (though I may well do so now), so I was going in without any prior knowledge. He’s an entertaining protagonist who you root for from the off – some sort of cross between Petrocelli, Perry Mason and Mickey Haller, as far as fictional legal eagles go; and he’s soon carrying the weight of a showbiz murder trial on his shoulders.
It’s all faintly familiar – mix a bit of OJ trial with a bit of Dexter, swirl in a bit of Twelve Angry Men or Runaway Jury – but no less effective for it. It runs along at a fair old pace, and although the better written most chilling elements (particularly of the serial killer’s ‘process’ of becoming a juror) happen early on, the pace increases to the end and there are a number of twists and turns (and deaths) to keep even the most sleepy reader awake into the night. Undemanding but highly entertaining escapist fare.