15 October 2012

The Thirteenth Child

Okay, I confess I don't like writing reviews. For one thing, while I lie for a living, I refuse to mislead readers by glorifying books that, to me, don't cut it.
David Dean checks out his new novel.
The title of David Dean's new novel could have made me afraid this was an out-of-date story about The Dugger Family, but knowing the genre, I assumed The Thirteenth Child referred to the number of children who disappeared, were kidnapped, or murdered. Not so, but I won't clue you in on the meaning of the title, and I won't give away any of the secrets of the novel in this review. Read this book for yourself. You'll definitely be glad you did.

If you enjoy being scared to go to bed alone, this is your kind of read. With a well-written, well-paced, yet steadily climbing, plot, The Thirteenth Child is a terrifying journey that will make the reader crazy with intrigue that turns to fear and then crashes into sheer horror at the end. It's not the customary roller coaster ride mentioned in many reviews. Instead, it's a fast uphill trip in a
police cruiser.

David Dean doesn't bog the reader down with info dumps or excessive backstory. The characters come alive on the pages through their actions, thoughts, and feelings. As the main storyline progresses, they grow to be so captivating that the reader fears for them and shares their pains and apprehensions.

Preston Howard, a former English Literature professor, isn't interested in anyone or anything as much as his bottle of high quality scotch or rotgut whiskey, depending on how much money he's swiped from his daughter Fanny that day. Preston doesn't grow inebriated--he gets stinking drunk. In that condition, he prefers to sleep in a shanty hidden in the woods near an elementary school instead of in the comfortable bed his daughter provides. He befriends a feral boy named Gabriel who is dangerous as well as spooky. This lands Preston smack in the middle of the cases of a missing seven-year-old girl and two teenage boys.

13th Child
Nick (Police Chief Nicholas Catesby) has more than his share of problems. Single since his wife stepped out on their marriage and then left him, he's attracted to Preston's daughter Fanny, but how will that work when her father becomes a person of interest and then a suspect? A leak in the police department further complicates his life while deceitful betrayal by one of his officers looks as though it might cost Nick his job as well as control of the investigation of the youngsters who have disappeared.

Fanny Howard, Preston's daughter, is overwhelmed by the responsibilities of supporting her father financially and worrying what kind of new troubles his drinking will bring them. About the time that the chemistry she shares with Nick Catesby fires up the pages as well as Fanny's bed, the relationship is forbidden because her father's situation creates a conflict of duty for Nick. Even more chilling, though Fanny is a grown woman, she becomes the monster's next target.

Tension begins on page one and rises constantly with characters and action that pull the reader in. There's a monster to be vanquished, and identifying who (or what) he is creates an urgency that makes it impossible to stop reading until the explosive final confrontation.

Author David Dean describes the book as a horror story with "a bit of police procredural woven into it. It's not a gore-fest, but it is scary."

Available from Genius Book Publishing as paperback or eBook, David Dean's The Thirteenth Child delivers in all areas. How many stars? On a scale of one to five, I give it six stars, and I'll read it again.

Here are links for your convenience:

Until we meet again...take care of you and treat yourself to a good scare with David's new book.


  1. Made me want to read it. Does it have 'paranormal elements' (as the romance authors say)?

  2. Fran, you've convinced me! A must have for my Kindle. Amazon....here I come.

  3. There is a monster, Leigh, but he (it) is not supernatural--that's all I can say without spoiling things. However, the manifestation of "The Thirteenth Child" in my hands in the photo above does appear to be of supernatural origin--the photo was taken before the book was published!! What...!?

    Thanks so much for your generous review, Fran--my God, what a wonderful thing to wake up to! I'm so pleased that you liked it.

  4. Glad David answered Leigh's question. I'm always afraid I'll divulge too much of the plot when I answer questions like that. I will say that it won't turn out to be what the reader first suspects.

    I seldom review anything for anyone, but this is a really scary book, which I love, and would have enjoyed reading and reviewing even if I didn't know David. The police procedural parts appeal to my love of mystery, also. Sheena, I think you'll like it as much as I do.

  5. David, from what Fran said about your book, it sounds like you have a real winner on your hands. best of luck on sales. I may have to contribute to that end.

  6. Congratulations, David--sounds like a great read.

  7. Fran, you convinced me. My Kindle book buying budget has been set now. Looking forward to reading it.

  8. My thanks to Fran for taking time out of her very busy schedule (she's in the midst of writing the fifth book in the Callie Parrish series) to read "The Thirteenth Child" and review it. She's a wonderfully gracious lady.

    I would also like to thank the tireless Leigh Lundin for his support and stewardship.

    My gratitude also for the support of all my fellow SleuthSayers. I hope those of you who can find the time to read my book will not be dissapointed.

  9. David, the pleasure was all mine. When I received the book, I planned to space out reading it between writing. I read THE THIRTEENTH CHILD straight through. My older son is reading it now.

  10. WOW! Sounds like I gotta get it! Checking to see if Poisoned Pen has it in stock, or if they need to order.

  11. Dix, it is available as a paperback, or ebook, through Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Kobo Books. Thanks!


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