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Friday, 16 May 2014

✍ 13:24: A story of faith and obsession - M Dolon Hickmon

Genre: Mystery & Thrillers
Published by Rehoboam Press
Number of pages: 376
My rating: ★ ★ ★ ★  It was memorable


A teenager named Chris knocks on the door of his mother’s ex-boyfriend—then shoots the man dead in premeditated fashion. Hours later, an officer responds to a loud music complaint and discovers a second body surrounded by a gruesome scene. With few clues to explain ‘why’, blame for the crimes settles on Chris’s obsession with the dark and violent rock band, Rehoboam. Reporters broadcast this speculation under sensational headlines, but detective William Hursel is convinced there is a deeper motive. Trailing Chris while doggedly unraveling prior events, William uncovers an underworld where human traffickers ply the wealthy with unseemly indulgences.

Meanwhile, Rehoboam’s lead singer, Josh, thinks he may finally be ready to take the next step in

his relationship with the band’s fiery female drummer. But when news of Chris’s crime spree triggers flashbacks of a harsh, fundamentalist upbringing, Josh finds his career and his romance unexpectedly interrupted. Linked to William’s investigation by his cryptic responses to Chris’s fan-club letters, Josh must eventually choose between clearing his name and keeping the secrets of his past."

I am generally an avid reader of crime and horror fiction. All the better if they have firm basis in real life – “could this really happen?”.

I first picked up 13:24 as I had heard it being described as disturbing, its cover appealed to me and I was intrigued by the title itself, as I had no idea what it referred to.

I like to discover a book as I read it, and let it speak for itself, without it being marred by any preconceptions I might have due to someone else’s account of it. As such, it took some time and a lot of guessing on my part before I came across the actual significance of 13:24, and as I delved deeper into the story I was slowly able to truly appreciate the full meaning of the tagline “A story of faith and obsession”.

I would strongly suggest to any reader to do the same. The narration will explain everything.

Just a word of warning: the book deals graphically with child abuse, but it only touches upon child pornography. If you are squeamish, or thin skinned… well, get over it!

This is real life – face it.

Learn from it (and there is a lot to learn and plenty of food for thought here) and stop burying your head in the sand.

Events such as those described in this book are most probably occurring in your neighbourhood (especially if you live in the USA), not that far away from you, and they are only going to stop if people are aware, if people are horrified and take an active stand against it.

13:24 is not your usual crime story – we know from the beginning who the killer is (a teenager, Chris). What we need to figure out is why these murders are happening, and what ties them to a rock band, Rehoboam and to 13:24.

13:24 is an excellent read, sensitively written by a survivor. The pace of the story is fast and gripping, reminiscent of a blockbuster: we follow three main characters, Chris –the killer, William – the investigator, and Josh – the rockstar, as current events unfold and through flashbacks, which connect more and more of the dots and which will take you to places which are darker than you had ever imagined. M Dolon Hickmon’s style is clear, gritty and emotionally charged and you cannot help finding yourself fully engaged with the protagonists.

I found that some passages were difficult to swallow as they evoked many personal memories – albeit (and thankfully) not as extreme as the ones described in the book. Once I had reached the end, having spent the last twenty years in the UK, it all felt rather insular and detached from my own experiences and from those of the ones closest to me. However, having been raised in Northern Italy by a Southern family, some of the methodology described in the book did ring clear bells, but I had never associated it to the root which is identified in this book. I believe that these practises are mostly widespread in the United States, however you just need to watch the news to realise that they also happen all around Europe and the rest of the world, behind closed door – people are the same no matter their geographical location, of course the right encouragement from the right pulpit can provide the thin justification required to release dark impulses.

You can find out more on M Dolon Hickmon’s website. The blog ‘A Survivor’s Conversation with Christianity’ is of particular interest, with its links to Michael and Debi Pearl and their manual “To train up a child”.

[ARC received via Netgalley]

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