books · Read · Reading · Review · summer · Thriller

Book Review: ‘Thirteen’ by Steve Cavanagh

Hello everyone, and welcome back to The Bookworm’s Fantasy! I hope you’re all well. Today I’m posting my review of Steve Cavanagh’s latest novel, ‘Thirteen‘. I took part in the blog tour for this book – you can find that here. I absolutely adored this novel, so I just had to review it separately for you! Keep reading to discover my thoughts…

thirteen book cover.jpg



To your knowledge, is there anything that would preclude you from serving on this jury?’

Murder wasn’t the hard part. It was just the start of the game.

Joshua Kane has been preparing for this moment his whole life. He’s done it before. But this is the big one.

This is the murder trial of the century. And Kane has killed to get the best seat in the house.

But there’s someone on his tail. Someone who suspects that the killer isn’t the man on trial.

Kane knows time is running out – he just needs to get to the conviction without being discovered.

** TRIGGER WARNING ** Contains references to the grizzly details of multiple murders. Contains references to multiple other crimes, including battery and rape. Also contains references to mental illness.

‘Thirteen’ (14th June 2018) is the fourth book in the “Eddie Flynn” series, following on from ‘The Defence’ (February 2016), ‘The Plea’ (April 2017) and ‘The Liar’ (November 2017). Steve Cavanagh studied Law and currently practises civil rights law, and has been involved in several high profile cases; in 2010 he won the largest award of damages for race discrimination in Northern Ireland legal history. He lectures on various legal subjects and is also one half of the “Two Crime Writers and a Microphone” podcast.

The novel has received rave reviews from multiple fellow authors, such as Sarah Pinborough: “An oh so clever hook for an oh so clever, gripping book”, Lee Child: “Outstanding – an intriguing premise, a tense, gripping build-up, and a spectacular climax”, Clare Mackintosh: “Smart and original”, Ruth Ware: “A brilliant, twisty, ingeniously constructed puzzle of a book”, Mark Billingham: “If you read a thriller as good this year, it’s only because you’ve read this one twice”, and Simon Kernick: “Great hook. Great plot. Great book.”

‘Thirteen’ is an exceptional hybrid crime and courtroom drama novel, and is unlike anything I’ve ever read before. It details the lives of defence lawyer Eddie Flynn and serial killer Joshua Kane, who is on the jury for the trial of Hollywood movie star Robert Solomon, who has been charged with the murder of his wife and security guard. But will the real killer be discovered, before it’s too late?

The narrative is split into days, following the course of a week. The narrative is also split into two perspectives; the third-person narration focusing on Joshua Kane, and the first-person account of Eddie Flynn. The reader is able to get a detailed insight to both characters’ lives, including their thoughts, feelings and behaviours. This narrative structure is fairly simple and easy to follow, but still very effective.

Joshua Kane is my favourite character in the novel. And don’t get me wrong, this isn’t because I “like” him – he’s the villain of the novel, and is brilliantly evil. But his character is just written so well! He’s a cold, cruel serial killer, killing just for the thrill or for the excitement of it. He’s a psychopath but he is extremely clever, always being very meticulous and cunning about his plans to kill. He has so much knowledge about a wide array of subjects, and the lengths he goes to to remain undiscovered truly sent shivers down my spine. But he’s also charismatic and charming, and you can’t help but warm to him a little bit. He’s a very unique, original character, and I really appreciated how much effort Cavanagh clearly went to in writing Kane.

The defence lawyer, Eddie Flynn, is probably the “nicest” character in the novel; although that doesn’t mean the best. He’s good at his job and has had great success in practising as a lawyer, and has extensive knowledge in regards to the law. But with this case, he has his doubts, and there are times in the novel where his questions whether Robert Solomon is truly innocent or not. He questions his own judgement and acknowledges that he has made mistakes in cases before, and I really appreciated this part of his character. Ultimately, he takes the case in the hope that it will bring him great success, and in the hope that his wife will not divorce him.

The defendant, Robert Solomon (Bobby), is a high-achieving Hollywood movie star who appears to have it all – a beautiful wife, a fantastic home, and the dream career. When he is arrested for his wife’s murder, he goes to great lengths to protest his innocence. But he has many secrets lurking beneath the surface, secrets which he will do anything to protect. Out of all of the characters, I would say that Bobby is the only one who is slightly lacking in depth of characterisation – but then again, the reader never gets to hear his voice or his perspective, so perhaps this is to be expected.

Other characters in the novel include various members of the legal team, the police team and the victims of the murders. There are too many other characters to try and name them all, and I have chosen to only focus on the three protagonists’ for the sake of clarity. All of the characters are unique and different, and all bring something exciting to the novel.

** TRIGGER WARNING ** (I apologise for any spoilers here.) It is to be expected that a book about a serial killer will include references to multiple murders, but it is worth noting that the descriptions of the murders in ‘Thirteen’ are quite graphic and uncomfortable at times. The novel also makes references to other crimes, including battery and rape. The theme of mental illness is also explored in the novel, in regards to the mental disorder that the serial killer may or may not suffer with. If any of these issues may trigger a negative response, I would suggest you skip this book.

As the narrative progresses, the court case gets more complicated, and more and more curveballs are thrown into the mix. The tension and suspense builds, and the reader is fully absorbed in the claustrophobic atmosphere of the courtroom. Will they catch the killer in time? Or will he strike again?

So, let’s talk about the ending. There’s a fast-paced, dramatic end scene, jam-packed full of action and adventure. It’s crunch time for the legal and police teams, as they must catch the killer before he inevitably kills again. Just when you think events are going to go one way, a curveball is thrown that completely changes the direction of the novel. There are so many twists and turns at the end! I was truly shocked by the ending of the book, and I was really satisfied with how things were tied together.

Overall, I highly recommend this novel to those of you who enjoy reading crime, particularly those who enjoy legal/courtroom thrillers. It’s a fast-paced, high-energy novel, with a really unique premise. This book is one-of-a-kind and original, and that’s probably what I loved the most about it. I was truly hooked whilst reading, and I physically couldn’t put it down, devouring it in just a couple of sittings! My only criticism is that I felt it was a little bit slow at the beginning, but that’s only if I’m being really picky. A fantastic read!

Sound good? Click here to buy ‘Thirteen’.

Happy reading 🙂

6 thoughts on “Book Review: ‘Thirteen’ by Steve Cavanagh

  1. I also read Thirteen and enjoyed it quite a bit. I liked the way Cavanagh completely has you guessing during the “hotel scene.” Nothing was predictable. I’m not even that interested in court room dramas.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s