Friday, September 11, 2009

What does a podpeep read? -- Emily Veinglory

The 13th Hour
by Richard Doetsch
Reviewed by Emily Veinglory

As a reader, how a book is published is not my primary concern. There are some types of book I like, and it just happens that self-publishers provide books in my interest areas. So do small presses, and so do the large presses. Most readers simply do not know, or don't much care about, the different ways books are delivered into their hands.

To give an example of a mainstream book in my interest area, I have just finished reading The 13th Hour by Richard Doetsch. I like books that use non-linear time as a plot device. It just so happens that this has become popular with books like the Time Traveller's Wife and movies like Pulp Fiction and Memento. But I don't like things because they are obscure, and I don't stop liking them because they are popular.

I got a chance to read an advance review copy (ARC) of this book well before its schedule release in December. For self-publishing authors having trouble getting reviewed, I suggest you consider being patient enough with your roll out to distribute ARCs. It is attractive to some reviewers, and I am very much one of them. It may be shallow, but I like seeing a book first. Also by providing early information ARCs help promote the site that reviews them, just as the site promotes the book.

The central premise of The 13th Hour is that Nick Quinn finds his wife's murdered body. He is given the chance to live the last 12 hours over again, one at a time, in reverse order. He makes many attempts to avert Julia's death, but events seem to keep finding a way to bring about the same outcome, or even worse. However, as Nick struggles to change his wife's fate he manages to discover the people, plots and actions that ultimately led to her murder. Predictably enough, this all comes together in his last do-or-die chance to save her.

Despite having a fantasy MacGuffin as a central plot device this book is pure thriller, it is a page turner. There are diamonds, crooked cops, murders, gun fights, car chases, true love, plane crashes, and the tried-and-true ticking clock governing each precious hour. Ultimately the underlying concepts are not qute as clever as I hoped it might be. There is an important plot twist that seemed fairly well broadcast by half way through the book. But this is a book that requires concentration, and rewards it.

The characters are sympathetic and the time-looping complexity is made easy to follow through the eyes of the time-travelling protagonist, through his many different attempts to save Julia. Doetsch has created a better than average thriller that is fast paced and reasonably intelligent; it that keep me up late at night. The 13th Hour is a clear 8/10 book for me. And 8/10 books are few and far between.

The 13th Hour will be published by Atria, a division of Simon & Schuster. Simon & Schuster are not a publisher I feel warm fuzzies for. They have a tendency to push some of the most exploitative contracts around and run silly populist contests. And Richard Doetsch is about as mainstream as it gets. Best seller, etc etc, and The 13th Hour movie rights have been picked up by New Line. His branding as an author frankly annoys me. It is over-blown, air-brushed and arrogant.

I did however like the book, and as a reader that really is all that matters.

1 comment:

Christy Pinheiro, EA ABA said...

Great review!! I like the publishing commentary-- I know that I can always come here to get the skinny on the dirty contracts and publishers, etc. It's those little tidbits that keep me coming back.

And the book reviews, of course!