13:24 – A Story of Faith and Obsession

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13:24 – A Story of Faith and Obsession is an unnerving account of two young men’s responses to child abuse. Fourteen-year-old Chris Pesner is on a vindictive mission. Having already killed his mother and her boyfriend, Chris’ payback list is constantly growing. Meanwhile, Joshua’s spiteful anger pours out in the lyrics he writes and the music he produces for Rehoboam, Chris’ all-time favorite heavy metal band. Both victims of extreme child discipline, Chris and Josh have never met, even though they have carried on correspondence. Chris hopes to contact Josh after a Rehoboam concert, yet neither has any idea what is in store when they finally meet.

While Hickmon’s debut thriller is undoubtedly heavily laced with themes of child abuse, what is most disturbing is its connection with Christianity. Five years in the making, Hickmon’s novel is definitely not a result of conjuring up an interesting storyline. According to his website, www.1324book.com, Hickmon draws “from his personal experience of childhood maltreatment, combined with cutting-edge research and true crime headlines.” Written in third person, Hickmon’s dual narrative opens with Chris, who gathers materials to take to Andrew Adriano’s home. The boyfriend of Chris’ mom, Andrew is caught unaware when he answers his door only to be doused with pepper spray. What follows is nothing less than a gruesome murder deftly accomplished by a teenager.

The scene quickly changes with Josh, a famous and wealthy musician, who is overwhelmed by abusive childhood memories of his religious father’s fetish for punishment. By alternating between Chris’ and Josh’s present situations and their hideous flashbacks, Hickmon reveals windows not only into the world of child pornography, but also into the realm of child chastisement, a disconcerting topic relevant to the Christian church today.

Amid a tight list of apt literary tools, Hickmon’s use of paradox is key. Chris’s murder mission may be wrong, but there is a sense of poetic justice to his highly active annihilation of miscreants. And while it looks as though Josh has a creative outlet to express his feelings, passive resistance toward his father speaks louder than Rehoboam’s musical and theatrical shows. Hickmon zeroes in on the substantiation of “not withholding the rod” upon children, which is ironically taught in an institution that should be a safe haven for children. Always keeping his narrative moving, Hickmon’s use of accretion includes meticulous character development woven into alternating chapters with plenty of scene changes –between Chris, Josh, detectives (who are always ten steps behind crime scenes), and a handful of repulsive antagonists – that all build up to nail-biting, ticking-clock scenarios.

Hickmon, who is also an anti-abuse activist, states that he “dedicates his time and skills to advocating on behalf of mistreated children, often in cooperation with children’s rights groups and other advocates.” Envisioning “13:24 to be a pop culture thriller that would serve as a unique child abuse education campaign,” Hickmon has unquestionably accomplished one goal – public awareness. Riveting and appropriately disturbing from cover to cover, 13:24 – A Story of Faith and Obsession, is not for the faint of heart. Hickmon relays an eye-opening and powerful message that everyone needs to read.

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Star Count 5/5
Format Trade
Page Count 378 pages
Publisher Rehoboam Press
Publish Date 01-Apr-2014
ISBN 9780991106608
Bookshop.org Buy this Book
Issue December 2014
Category Mystery, Crime, Thriller


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