Top positive review
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Utter brilliance! With RJ Ellory, that's not really a surprise.
on 3 November 2009
For those accustomed to RJE's unique talent, a new novel brings very high expectations. With many authors such expectation is followed by inevitable disappointment. However, RJE is no mere "normal" talent, and fittingly he again meets and exceeds them.
"The Anniversary Man" is an unstinting feast of all that is engaging about good research, everything that is terrifying about the darker side to human nature and all that is artistically captivating about skilfully delivered prose.
Ray Irving and John Costello are the major protagonists who drive the story. A spate of killings quickly link into one another, and Detective Ray Irving, of New York's Finest, begins his trail of a serial killer who always seems so many steps ahead of him. Bewildered and frustrated, Irving enlists the help of the unusual Costello, a man emotionally marked by his experience of living beyond a serial killer attack. Costello's special skills and expertise add insight for Irving who brings him on board despite misgivings about Costello's involvement with the mysterious Winterbourne group.
Both Irving and Costello are wonderfully drawn characters, but then so are Karen Langley and Captain Faraday. Ellorys skill in characterisation seems to improve with each novel, and as others have already said the characters stay with you for a long time afterwards. Irving is so real, it's a wonder you can't actually hear him breathing through the book
Ellory also seems to have increased the pace in this novel, not that I complained in the past, his prose is the sort that you wish to savour rather than rush, but the pace suited on this occasion, making it a devour all, oh my goodness is that the time, sort of read.
The lucid descriptions and exceptional research bring to life the structure and format of a police investigation, a gritty look at what real-life police analysis is, and what a detective would have to deal with. In many movies and novels, we see an almost inhuman intelligence or unlikely quantities of serendipity which lead to resolution. Not with this novel, it is another tour de force, bold realism, living breathing characters, skilful prose and industrious groundwork come together to produce a final third of finesse, skill and tension.
There are sections of the story that are harrowing, that create an emotional effect, but you also are left with the notion of the inherent decency of people pulling through all that life throws at them. Superb by Ellory, and as with his other works, I recommend you read it.