Synopses & Reviews
With 13 ½, Nevada Barr, New York Times bestselling author of the award-winning Anna Pigeon novels, has written a taut and terrifying psychological thriller. It carries the reader from the horrifying 1970s murder spree of a child— dubbed “Butcher Boy” by a shocked public—in Rochester, Minnesota, to Polly, the abused daughter of Mississippi “trailer trash,” to post-Katrina New Orleans.
In Jackson Square in the French Quarter a tarot card reader told Polly Deschamps she would be a success. Thirty years later, Polly is a respected professor of literature with good friends and her own home—a safe life for her and her two daughters.
Butcher Boy, released on his seventeenth birthday, shook the snow from his boots and headed south.
New Orleans, a Mecca for runaways then and now, offers sanctuary but never forgiveness.
When Polly falls in love with Marshall Marchand, a restoration architect who is helping to rebuild her adopted city, shadows of the past rise out of the poisoned ground of New Orleans as thick and deadly as the toxic waters of the flood.
Like history, some crimes are doomed to repeat themselves. Evil stays the same, only the victims’ names change. As two broken pasts collide in an uncertain present, Polly is determined that her children’s names will never be on that list.
"Reaching beyond her successful Anna Pigeon series (Borderline, etc.), bestseller Barr comes up with the brass ring: a stand-alone psychological thriller with grit, teeth and heart. At 15, Polly Farmer escapes an alcoholic mother and a trailer-park no-future, hitchhikes to New Orleans and makes a life for herself as an English professor. Polly, divorced with two daughters, romantically intersects with handsome restoration architect Marshall Marchand who's really Dylan Raines, who was incarcerated as the 11-year-old 'Butcher Boy' who axe-murdered his parents 25 years earlier in Minnesota. As Barr artfully unfolds this mystery of wickedness and pain in eerie post-Katrina New Orleans, she tackles a multitude of societal evils, from psychiatric drug abuse to the juvenile justice system, but her central conflict, Polly's fierce determination to keep her daughters safe while trying to believe in the man she loves, makes this a terrifying, utterly convincing glimpse into the abyss. (Oct.)" Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
Jeffery Deaver, New York Times bestselling author of Roadside Crosses
"This book is a hands-down winner! Psychological terror at its best, 13 1/2 shines with authentic voices, high-amp tension, and Barr's brilliant and unique style."
Lee Child, New York Times bestselling author
"Stunning ... spellbinding psychological suspense with twists you won't see coming ... an amazing, virtuoso piece of writing."
“Keep the lights on while reading this intense psychological thriller. The tension’s so tight you’ll be rethinking every motive and clue up to the finale. Much like Nancy Pickard in The Virgin of Small Plains, Barr forces us to look beyond the obvious to the hidden evils we may have overlooked.”
Romantic Times, 4 stars
“...a hair-raising thriller.... packs a powerful punch.”
“Barr process adept at both pulsing horror and sweet romance.... [for] readers who like dark psychological thrillers.”
Sun-Sentinel (Ft. Lauderdale, FL)
Barr skillfully shows her affinity for delving into her characters' souls in 13 ½. Barr keeps the psychological terror elevated in 13 ½ by realistically showing how people can be manipulated - by others and by the juvenile justice system.”
New Orleans Magazine
“13 ½ is a glorified thriller that will tease and please lovers of the genre...”
“Barr's vibrant prose keeps you reading....irresistible.”
“Reminiscent of novels by Thomas Harris and Minette Walters....will send shivers up the spine of even the toughest reader....Barr adds interstitial musings about well-known murders throughout history that are so stone-cold they could make Hannibal Lector blanch in fear.”
“...a brilliantly harrowing effort.... 13 ½ feels better written and more richly drawn than Barr's very good Anna Pigeon efforts. Certainly a new direction and one that takes her on a genre-bending course to evil and depravity in this downright chilling tale.”
“Barr's smooth storytelling style keeps the tension at a heart-pounding level...”
A major novel of psychological suspense by New York Times bestselling author Nevada Barr
Polly Deschamps is at a lonely crossroads, until she meets and marries Marshall Marchand. As Polly begins to settle into her new life, she becomes uneasy about her husband's increasingly dark moods, fearing that his brother may be influencing Marshall in ways she cannot understand.
About the Author
Nevada Barr is an award-winning novelist and New York Times bestselling author. She has a growing number of Anna Pigeon mysteries to her credit as well as numerous other books, short stories, and articles. She currently resides in New Orleans with her husband, four magical cats, and two adorable dogs.