The Girl in Cabin 13 by A.J. Rivers
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Author’s Journal | Pen Date 2.8.22 | TW: Violence, Death, Language
Have you already read The Girl in Cabin 13? Tell me what you thought!
I forget where I discovered the Emma Griffin FBI Mystery Series. It might have been on Instagram, maybe Twitter, I honestly can’t remember. Anyhow, I’m happy I did.
I see a bright future for Emma as a lone-wolf, loose-cannon agent in the next novel and beyond. However, I found it hard to like her due to poor decision making throughout the novel, but she gets her act together, which is the point, right?
That said, much like Emma, this first story is a little all over the place.
We’ve got four mysteries here gang.
1) Who is kidnapping all these people in Feathered Nest, Virginia? (8 missing 2 dead)
2) What happened to Emma’s father?
3) What happened to Emma’s ex-boyfriend?
4) Who’s this guy, that somehow knows where Emma is staying? Even though she’s undercover, in a rural cabin, in a new state, with no connection to the town.
I guess, I should also say that this guy, (^ in #4) was alive when he knocks on Emma’s door, just before dropping dead on her front porch.
Shaken, but still on mission, Emma immerses herself into small town gossip, politics, and mysteries to discover who’s behind the disappearances in this sleepy little town. All the while, no one can know who she is because no one can be trusted. Not even the police.
With a tall, long-haired bartender love interest in tow, Emma will need to work quickly if she is to have any hope of solving the mystery before the culprit takes their next victim.
It ends up being a fun ride with a solid writer. There are no problems with the writing itself, and I really enjoyed Rivers’ tone and voice, which successfully navigates the 1st Person Present point of view.
Unfortunately, the story’s a bit muddled because, well, Rivers was likely thinking a big series from the get-go. That’s not a knock, Emma Griffin is a character that I am here for! She’s getting her feet back under her after six months riding the desk.
But she has a lot to re-learn about basic police work. She’s no Sherlock or any such savant-level detective. But she’s a real person. She’s fallible. Meaning, readers won’t have to worm through plot holes of deductive reasoning to figure out how a villain gains the upper hand.
It’s nice to see a character in a detective novel that’s allowed to grow from something other than a pretentious attitude. Something that can be hard to see in detective characters who are at the top of their game before we’re ever introduced to them.
Thankfully, she wizens up real quick. She makes the solve, despite it not necessarily being the most difficult mystery.
It’s the first book in a series. Rivers has more than an A-B plot; she’s got C, D, and maybe even an E plot. Meaning there’s a lot of opportunity to take this character places, but sometimes I think readers like myself wish all the mysteries hadn’t been dumped on our plate at once.
With that, readers must be prepared for Emma to make some really stupid decisions. She does have some past trauma, but there are moments that will make detective novel enthusiasts shake their head so fast, they may get whiplash.
There’s one point, about a third of the way through, where I thought this might be the dimmest character I’ve ever read. She’s investigating the woods . . . at night . . . with no weapon . . . while on Facetime with a colleague.
Just asking to get un-alived.
But if readers manage to stick it out, they’ll likely have to put up with solving the mystery much sooner than the protagonist. That said, having just seen Scream (2022), I have to say, I know the rules, and maybe Emma didn’t . . .
There are big, ole, stinky SPOILERS preserved below! So, don’t say I didn’t warn ya!
Okay, that ending, fucking wild.
The threads were there, but I kind of like that we had such limited information to see it coming, the taxidermy that is. Not the whole, Jake’s the murderer thing. That seemed apparent pretty early, with suspicions confirmed thanks to the whole Sherriff LaRoche Red Herring.
But the taxidermy shit, him living in the woods, poisoning his dad, it’s all crazy batshit insanity that I. Am. Here. For! I genuinely did not see that being his guiding impulse.
I’m guessing we’ll see Jake again, probably behind bars, but it’ll be interesting to see what happens to him over the course of the next books because I don’t think that’ll be the last of him . . .
What do you think? Let me know in the comments below
I give The Girl In Cabin 13 a high 3 or so out of 5, meaning it’s a 4! It’s quite a solid debut for the series, but ultimately takes on a bit too much in its ambitious setup of further novels.
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