Wednesday, January 19, 2011

The Anniversary Man a rewarding thriller

Book 6: The Anniversary Man by R.J. Ellory

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.

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