Athira (Reading on a Rainy Day)'s Reviews > The 13th Hour

The 13th Hour by Richard Doetsch
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's review
Feb 27, 2010

really liked it
bookshelves: 2010, fiction, f-thriller, f-general
Read from February 15 to 18, 2010

Very thrilling - that's as succinct as I can say! I was glued to this book for a day and finished it quite fast.

My opinion
The 13th Hour starts with Nick and Julia having a minor disagreement, before Julia sets off to work and Nick spends his day working from home. At almost 7 pm, Julia is murdered and Nick distraught. In the background of this story, a plane has crashed causing the death of all 212 passengers. With all the police at the crash site aiding with relief efforts, only 2 are spared for Julia's murder investigation. Nick is however, soon hauled into prison, with a murder charge hanging over his head, and the police's claim of finding his prints on a gun he had never seen, much less touched before, is threatening to keep him holed up in prison for long. At that point, walks in a European gentleman with a watch and a letter with certain instructions. What follows next is 12 hours of going back in time, learning what really happened, watching his wife die over and over again, bringing about the death of his best friend, Marcus, at one point, as he races against time to change the one thing to save them all.

The 13th Hour was a roller-coaster ride into the last 12 hours of a couple, as Nick tried desperately to save Julia from the clutches of death. It was very suspenseful and had all the delightful elements of a thriller - a bunch of baddies, multiple murders, crime lords, diamonds, wealthy tycoons and innocent protagonists. Each time the clock goes back into the previous hour, Nick learns something new as the magnitude of the entire crime slowly unravels.

All through the book, there is the message of the importance of one's actions echoed very strongly.

One simple selfish act can reverberate through time, through life, robbing a stranger of existence. A loved one could meet her death from the repercussions of a moment or an event she may never know or understand. Yet if this one moment didn't occur, if it could be found, could be taken back, the lives it touched could be changed, could be altered, and that one life saved.

How true that is, and how often we sit back and wish we could undo a lot of our actions. How fitting that when we invented computers, we gave it the now ubiquitous Undo-Redo function. Ctrl-Z has become one of my most pressed buttons on this keyboard. Each hour that Nick gains back, he strives to change things, save Julia. But it's interesting seeing how his different actions during each hour change the events that happen, sometimes bringing about Julia's death earlier than 7 pm. Sometimes, I wished I could see how his different actions changed the future timeline, but since Nick only goes backward, the reader doesn't get to see that. It annoyed me though that Nick wasn't learning from his experience. He kept making the same mistake of trying to change the present, knowing that he is still going to go into the past, and that what he does now will not matter in that new timeline.

I still gave the book only 4 stars because it could have done with some better editing work. While Richard Doetsch's writing is definitely good and something I enjoyed, some portions of the book had needless repetitions and were stating the obvious. Also, the lengthy description of the couple - Nick and Julia, wore me out. There were too many sentences testifying to the fictional fact that the two were a perfect couple, who always loved each other and met under a high-school romantic situation, and always supported each other. The stereotypical perfect American couple. Phew! The wordy descriptions alone made me not like the couple at all. In addition, the first time Nick sees Julia in the past, he gets so overcome with emotions that they have sex. Excuse me? Time is running out, answers are to be found, the killer is coming any time and sex is the first thing on your mind?

Overall though, I found the suspense quotient of this book really high, with its many twists and turns. It was also interesting to read the go-backwards formula work well in this case, (as opposed to the go-forwards formula of most suspense novels).

Title Demystified
This book starts at Chapter 12. It ends at Chapter 13. In between, there are 11 chapters, from Chapter 11 all the way down to Chapter 1. As said in the synopsis, this book is told in reverse. Technically, Nick is the only person going to the past. He is the only constant (LOST vocab!) in all the hours. It is interesting that this book has the title The 13th Hour, since all things of importance happen in the last hour - the 12th hour - Nick's 12th hour in the past. Or is it his 13th hour, since he lives 9pm-10 pm once, and only then starts going to the past. (Was that confusing?)

Cover Art Demystified
Nick is able to go into the past, by one hour each time, only because he was given a pocket watch by the European gentleman. A time-turner, to those familiar with the world of Hogwarts except that he doesn't have to wind it. It pretty much works automatically. (Spoiler alert) The only nagging point I had was when Nick finally returns the timepiece to the owner, who ends up with two of them - the one he had originally in the new timeline, and the one he had given to Nick in the timeline Nick erased. If that's the case, shouldn't there be a lot of such pocket watches in the world, since it had been used a lot of times in the past. That was never explained. And it annoyed me!
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Quotes Athira Liked

Richard Doetsch
“How many people live in the moment? A few? How many people live for tomorrow at the sacrifice of today?" Dreyfus opened his fist to reveal it to be empty. "...When tomorrow is never a guarantee.”
Richard Doetsch, The 13th Hour

Reading Progress

02/17/2010 page 120

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