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on 27 April 2017
He writes well. Every time I read another Ellroy book I feel that I have had my money's worth.
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on 4 September 2014
I have just recently discovered R.J. Ellory and wonder how I could have missed him until now. The Anniversary Man was utterly engrossing, gripping and so very original. The writing is wonderful, the characters are so well drawn. I felt I could almost reach out and touch the compassion of Ray Irving.
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on 15 December 2009
I love thrillers and all things crime related - so it is a surprise that I took so long to get to an RJ Ellory book. Maybe fate was playing appropriate tricks with me. From the outset I struggled with the writing style and the prose. It was simply overdone and to ornate for my tastes - it slowed the action down, helped to remove a sense a tension and really made the read a touch laborious.

I note that I am mostly alone in this view point however.

What this style does allow Ellory to do is create very vivid and real characters - Costello and Irving are excellent characterisations and inded the dialogue when it does get going is realistic and punchy.

All that said, I found it too ponderous to be truely enjoyable. The Cop vs serial killer gets a neat new twist with the Costello character and that prevents it from being a cliche. All in all I can't deny the talent on show, but that the style of delivery isn't for me.
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I did not like this book and resented the time I had to spend in order to finish it! I will try to explain why. As with most, if not all, contributions to the `serial killer' genre it complies with certain conventions; e.g. the world weary cop, the love interest who might `save him from himself', the seedy cast of minor low life characters and, of course, the `whacko' perpetrating the crimes.

It is also characterized by, obviously, painstaking research, much of which is a little too often too conspicuously on show. However, my main gripe is that it is neither that interesting nor that entertaining which are, after all, the main reasons most people begin to read a book in the first place. The prologue goes on forever and the whole thing, rather than building tension in the way that the best of the current exponents of the genre seem capable of doing, it seems to meander along interminably with meeting after meeting during which nothing much gets done or discussed and the same point is made time after time using the same banal dialogue.

I shan't read another of this author's unless there is definitely nothing else available. But, it's not all doom and gloom; thank God I have a couple of Michael Connelly's and James Lee Burke's waiting on the shelf!

And now we find (03/09/12), he has been lauding to the skies his own books as an Amazon reviewer, under the names of Jelly Bean and Nicodemus Jones, and who knows how many others, whilst slamming those of his rivals. Given the outlandishly hyperbolic nature of most of the early favourable reviews he may have a whole family of alter-egos. Why this hasn't been investigated more widely by Amazon goodness only knows but there is still a great deal of evidence left on various 'reviews'!
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TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICEon 8 September 2009
The beast in this case lives up to the billing of the ultimate serial killer, because such is the perfection and organisation of the murders that there is almost a beauty to them, dark, savage and horrific though they are. This is a tale set in modern-day New York spread over a period of half a year in which innocent people are executed in carefully staged ways and on specific dates that mimic some of the most notorious real-life serial killings that have taken place in America over the past forty years or more. The lengthy prologue describes a fictitious spate of murders that took place in 1984, but one man survived and now leads an enigmatic but solitary lifestyle as a crime researcher for a New York newspaper. The central character is the homicide detective leading the search for the highly intelligent and ultra-careful mass murderer who despite the outrageous audacity of the killings never leaves any clues behind for detectives or forensic scientists to work with.

It needs a special talent to breathe new life into a well-beaten sub-genre as serial murder crime fiction, but Roger Ellory is one of a very select number of contemporary writers with just such ability. Many of his peers adopt and sometimes become trapped within the 'series' route, using characters repeatedly for consecutive tales, but Ellory takes the tougher but probably wiser option of the standalone with each of his novels. What is becoming clear with each new offering is that he has an unusual capacity to write in a slightly different style each time. The Anniversary Man is not blessed with the poetic prose of his hugely successful A Quiet Belief in Angels, for example, indeed if anything it is noticeable for its absence. Instead the emphasis is on the intensity of the chase, of the demands placed upon the detective appointed to find the killer, and in this regard the emotional rewards for the reader stem from the exhaustion that we share with that character as he drives relentlessly forward under immense physical and mental pressure.

This really is a story about serial killing that stands as testament to the history of serial murders across America over the past half century. There are extensive references to actual events that help to shape the fictional story, and it could be said that the most shocking elements are those in which some of the acts that took place in reality are described in detail. There is nothing overly graphic or gratuitous in the descriptions, however, be they factual or fictional, rather they are described with economy and simplicity yet with the power to sadden and disturb in equal measure. For anyone with a liking for serial killer tales, this one has to be one of the very best of its kind because it never strays from its fundamental objective, it never wanders off in any other direction than the one set out from the first page, which is to say that it is highly focused on serial killing even if it never seeks to rationalise the subject; as the lead detective points out more than once, 'You can't rationalise the irrational'.

Where it also scores highly is on characterisation. There are three main characters and they are each interesting in their own different ways, the most fascinating of them being John Costello who has an extraordinarily encyclopaedic knowledge about serial killers, so much so that he becomes part of the police investigation. There is a little 'love interest', between lead character Ray Irving and Costello's boss Karen Langley, but it is at all times relevant to the story and not tagged onto the side of it as is sometimes the case with crime fiction in general. In a way though the most powerful character is the concept of serial killing itself, I get the impression that Ellory really set out to dedicate this novel to it despite never glorifying it or hero-worshipping it for one moment. We are left wiser after the events, because many of them are true, and saddened and sickened too that there are human beings on this planet who can do such ghastly things to their own kind.

Tense, gripping and captivating from first page to last, this is a must-have for Ellory fans and one of the best and most memorable pieces of crime fiction this year. Anybody dismissing this as just another serial killer thriller would miss out on a genuine treat for those who enjoy crime fiction.
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on 9 April 2013
I don't like crime novels but thought this would be different with an excellent twist since it's from R J Ellory but I am sorry to say I was so so disappointed. The story was just too drawn out and the murders kept happening leading up to 17 in total. Like a previous reader said, this was just overkill. I thought I would continue since I really loved Ghostheart but the ending was so bad. I can't say I wholly understood it to be honest. I think this is just a one off bad novel from this author and will be trying his other ones as I still have faith in him.
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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.
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on 12 February 2012
Having read and thoroughly enjoyed 'A quiet belief in Angels' I was looking forward to reading this new story. It started off reasonably well but detective Irving seems to have been lifted from so many other similar characters - mid life, lonely, no love life and disillusioned. The characters for me lacked originality and I could not empathise with any of them. It was a struggle to finish the book but as the well known phrase says 'I've started so I'll finish' however, the end, when it came was almost as if the author had no idea how to end the story and simply stopped. Sorry Mr Ellory, must do better!
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on 18 February 2011
Having previously read a few of RJ Ellory's novels and having loved 'A Quiet Belief in Angels', I was really looking forward to reading this book. I finished it last night and was very glad to get to the end.

In his previous work, I felt that RJ Ellory wrote a superior crime thriller through detailed development of his main characters, from childhood through to adulthood and this was what I liked about it. The Anniversary Man certainly begins with a childhood event, when a teenage boy survives an attack by a serial killer. What follows, however is a fairly predictable police procedural - lonely detective in his middle years who swears too much and has a rather incomplete love life - and not one or two or three apparently random murders, but 17. Overkill? The resulting novel reads like a long list of murder scenes that I found myself skim reading and wondering when it would get back to the plot...

On the positive side, it is well written and maybe if I hadn't read a large number of Amercian police procedurals already I wouldn't feel so jaded and might have enjoyed it more. Where RJ Ellory has previously scored high on the level of originality, this book failed to reach the mark. A disappointment.
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on 29 September 2009
The Anniversary man is another very well written book by RJ Ellory. It's all about finding a serial killer who is busy re-enacting famous murders from the past. With each murder the serial killer tends to become more aggresive to the point of taunting the investigators. No matter what the police do, our serial killer remains one step ahead. Who is the Anniversary man and does he get caught? Buy the book to find out.

Like other books from RJ Ellory, this one is also very fast paced and keeps you engaged throughout. Many readers would enjoy his writing style and this is definitely a good book to buy. My personal favourite from Ellory remains "A simple act of violence".
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