13 1/2

A Novel

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Pub Date 30 Nov 2018 | Archive Date 31 Aug 2021
Crossroad Press, Gordian Knot Books

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In 1971, the state of Minnesota was rocked by the "Butcher Boy" incident, as coverage of a family brutally murdered by one of their own swept across newspapers and television screens nationwide.

Now, in present-day New Orleans, Polly Deschamps finds herself at yet another lonely crossroads in her life. No stranger to tragedy, Polly was a runaway at the age of fifteen, escaping a nightmarish Mississippi childhood.

Lonely, that is, until she encounters architect Marshall Marchand. Polly is immediately smitten. She finds him attractive, charming, and intelligent. Marshall, a lifelong bachelor, spends most of his time with his brother Danny. When Polly’s two young daughters from her previous marriage are likewise taken with Marshall, she marries him. However, as Polly begins to settle into her new life, she becomes uneasy about her husband’s increasing dark moods, fearing that Danny may be influencing Marshall in ways she cannot understand.

But what of the ominous prediction by a New Orleans tarot card reader, who proclaims that Polly will murder her husband? What, if any, is the Marchands' connection to the infamous "Butcher Boy" multiple homicide? And could Marshall and his eccentric brother be keeping a dark secret from Polly, one that will shatter the happiness she has forever prayed for?

In 1971, the state of Minnesota was rocked by the "Butcher Boy" incident, as coverage of a family brutally murdered by one of their own swept across newspapers and television screens nationwide.


Advance Praise

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."

Library Journal

“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.”

Delta Magazine


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.”

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...

Available Editions

ISBN 9780463558164
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Average rating from 10 members

Featured Reviews

A study of evil in a family of brothers. Dylan gets put of prison and reeataiahes a relationship with his brother. From there evil takes over. It was an interesting read but I really miss Barr's National Park mysteries. This novel dos t hold my interest as much as her Anna Pigeon series.

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Credit due for an excellent writer. Have enjoyed this author’s series set in the National Parks so when I saw this one I decided to take a chance. To be honest, being in the mind of insane people threw me a bit, and the abuse by the doctors and prison guards also threw me. A lot of sad things going on here. The ending surprised me, and the author’s skill impressed me. Didn’t care for some of the story, but that is on me, not the book itself. Would recommend.

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I have been a huge fan of Ms.Barr for many years. I was not a fan of this book. The story of the Butcher Boy is intense. Being in the mind of a serial killer was almost too much for me to finish. I loved the mystery of it but in all honesty I had the end pegged about half way through and I just wanted it to wrap up.

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It seems that this one is a reissue of an older book.

This wasn't my favorite read.

While it was interesting enough that I stuck with it, it was also very predictable to me. There were literally no surprises when it came to who did what and when. One particular sad character did provide a minimal bit of surprise, but this wasn't an important character and their entire depressing life seemed only to matter as a demonstration of the evil of another character.

I did enjoy the denouement and found it satisfying, but found the book a little lacking as a whole.

*ARC via Publisher

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Not the usual Nevada Barr book. I much prefer the Anna Pidgeon series. Please bring that back. Had this been the first Barr book I read I would not have gone back for more

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A twisted and dark psychological thriller that's one heck of a ride! The characters are complex and intriguing. You think you have it figured out then you're questioning everything again. I enjoyed the guessing game of it all.

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Different from what I usually read but was still able to read it. Not quite sure how I feel about this book

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Thank you to Netgalley, the publishing house and author for the opportunity to read a compliemtntary copy of this book in return for a review based upon my honest oopinion.

This author has a way with twisty tales, she usually spins a web of storyline that leaves me anxious to get to the end and the grand reveal. This book was no exception, it had a great storyline and had me guessing. It was a dark story, about a young man who kills almost his whole family one night but who does not remember it, about his brother who stands next to him unwaveringly, even though he himself was almost killed. This book is also about Polly who comig from a hard upbringing is living a good life with two young daughters, but finds herself falling for a man she may not know as well as she thinks.

This one left me up late at night reading to get to the end as I needed to know how Polly's story ended. Great atory with lots of twists.

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As a long time fan of Nevada's, I knew I had to read this book as it A) a departure for her and B) set in NOLA. The idea of taking on a modern type crime and interweaving it into a modern setting was an interesting idea and one that served her well in telling this story, that it a 100% rollercoaster thrill fest! My only quibbles were of the NOLA variety. You have to know NOLA to catch things that are just a tad off. the atmosphere is right, but there's an insider aspect that just if off for those from NOLA, outsiders won't even catch them.LOL. perfect for October, don't miss this great read!

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Not a book to undertake without some trigger warnings—it’s twisted, dark, and suspenseful and (perhaps just a King horror novel) difficult for me not to just DNF. This reader needed to see a meaningful conclusion, although I’d certainly predicted from the beginning the revelation. Not a big surprise at that point.

Polly comes along and with her two young daughters and discovers a kindred spirit in Marshall, easy going, pleasant, loving, concerned.

The setting in post-Katrina in New Orleans was interesting and lent an atmospheric touch, until Polly meets a tarot card reader who provides dark warnings that trigger her investigation.

I would classify as a horror novel—especially graphic and violent. Granted, the author does have a rather poetic turn of phrase, descriptive prose, tension-building expertise and I am a fan of the Anna Pigeon series. This one, not so much. 3.5 stars

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