By Tom Hoyle
Published by Macmillan Children's Books
In the first few hours of the year 2000, 13 boys were born in random hospitals around London.
Adam Grant was one of these millennium babies. Born to a penniless single mother, Adam did not have the best start in life. His mother abandoned him because she simply could not cope with bringing up a child.
Eventually, Adam was adopted by Mr and Mrs Grant, and now that he is almost 14, he is in a stable family situation with kind parents and good friends.
But Adam does not know that he has been targeted by a murderer. In the shadows of London, a sinister cult is slowly gaining power. Led by a crazed individual called Coron, they are waiting for their moment to bring their fanatical beliefs to Britain and then to the world.
Coron has been told by an inner voice that he must kill those 13 London-born millennium babies because they are a threat to "The People" taking over the world. They must be wiped out before they reach their 14th birthday.
The police are investigating the mysterious murders of 12 teenaged boys, but they're not getting very far. They are, of course, Coron's victims. Adam is his last remaining target.
The initial premise of Tom Hoyle's Thirteen might be a bit far-fetched, but Hoyle writes with such conviction that readers have no option but to go along for the ride.
This debut novel is an adrenalin-filled adventure from the exciting first pages when a mysterious assassin tries to kill Adam in the hospital moments after his birth.
The build-up to Adam realising that a would-be assassin is stalking him is nail-biting stuff. In one sequence worthy of the best thriller writing, Adam and his friend attend a rock concert. Here Hoyle takes a leaf out of the book of tricks of late Hollywood director, Alfred Hitchcock. The writing in this rock concert scene displays an almost cinematic prowess in a scene that the "Master of Suspense" would no doubt have loved to film.
Like all good thrillers, there is a David versus Goliath situation. How can a 13-year-old boy defeat a maniac with a group of dedicated followers?
As the unlikely story rushes towards its end, tension mounts. Hoyle has managed to steer it convincingly towards the final pages without letting go of the wheel.
So get on board for the ride. Thirteen is a pure thrill trip and it doesn't try to be anything else.
John Millen can be contacted on MillenBookshelf@aol.com