As a rule, I don’t like novels about serial killers. And I didn’t much care for R.J.Ellory’s first book, A Quiet Belief in Angels, which – that’s right – was about a serial killer.
Which makes me wonder why I ever read Ellory’s second book, The Anniversary Man, which is also about – altogether now – a serial killer. But I did read it, and although Ellory stepped to the plate with two strikes against him, he wound up delivering, if not a walk-off home run, certainly a nice stand-up double.
Let’s dispense with the baseball metaphor and just say The Anniversary Man was a solid hit.
Conceit and characters make this book entertaining. The conceit: someone’s killing people, on the anniversary of past serial killings and in a manner frighteningly similar to those past murders.
The characters are a lonely cop, Ray Irving, and John Costello, a researcher for a New York newspaper who survived an attack by the so-called Hammer of God killer when he was 15. His girlfriend was not so fortunate.
The attack left its mark on Costello physically and emotionally. He has a deep-rooted obsession with serial killers and is the first to notice that there’s a pattern to the seemingly random murders.
Costello and Irving form a shaky alliance to catch the killer. Naturally, as the death toll mounts, Costello is Irving’s main suspect.
Ellory manages to deliver a thrilling climax that is altogether fitting without being obvious.
I’ve got a friend urging me to read Ellory’s third novel. Looks like that’s going to happen.