Books Read in 2015 – 10. The Anniversary Man – R. J. Ellory


Genre: American Crime, Serial Killer

Narrative Style: Third person

Rating 4/5Unknown

Published: 2009

Format: Paperback

Reading Challenges: TBR Challenge 2015

Time on shelf: About four years. I bought it at the same time as A Quiet Vendetta which I read straightaway and really enjoyed. I had no real reason for not reading it except other books got in the way.

Synopsis: John Costello survives an attack by a serial killer which kills his girlfriend. Now, twenty years later, he is the only one in New York to realise that a new spate of murders are in fact linked. They are all copies of old murders, committed on the anniversary of the original. However, contact with the police only brings John into the firing line of the killer. 

I wasn’t entirely sure about the premise of this book at first. I had visions of the film Copycat which I considered to be the definitive narrative of the copycat killer idea. I wasn’t sure what could possibly be added to the idea. However, I was wrong. This a completely different take on the tale.

The novel begins with the attack on John Costello back in 1984 and charts his difficulty with getting on with his life and his obsession with serial killers. He is damaged, not just physically but mentally by the attack and there is certainly something odd about him. Odd enough that when, later in the novel, the police believe he is the killer you begin to doubt yourself as to whether or not he is the guilty party.

The narrative then moves on to a series of murders in different areas of New York which have no stylistic similarities so no one links them until the Chief of Police gets wind of a possible article linking the murders together. This is the work of John Costello and he has realised the link between the deaths and the killer gets his name – The Anniversary Man.

It is at this point that the narrative really takes off and we really get to know the cop in charge of the investigation Ray Irving. He is suitably cynical and completely deprived of resources and time. He and Costello form an interesting team, both lonely and difficult men although in different ways. They face a race against time, trying to work out which murder will be the next enacted and I found that I couldn’t put the book down.

I have to say that I did work out how this would end. However, that is not to say that that it wasn’t enjoyable or that I wasn’t surprised by any of it. The ending was sad but also realistic and I wasn’t at all disappointed.

TBR Challenge 2015

2015tbrbuttonI really enjoyed doing the TBR challenge hosted by Roof Beam Reader this year. It is good for a number of reasons. First of all, it draws attention to books that have been on your shelf for a while and reminds you that at some stage you did want to read these books. For the most part, I wondered why I had left it so long to read them. Even better, I managed to remove three to the charity shop. Actually creating space on  my bookshelves is a new experience and makes doing the challenge again worthwhile. For next year’s challenge I’ve focused a bit more on classics as this is an area I feel I need to read more in.

For more information see Roof Beam Reader’s site.

Here is my list:

1. Jane Austen – Persuasion (1818) – November

2. Ann Cleeves – Raven Black (2006)  – July

3. R. J. Ellory – The Anniversary Man (2009) -February

4. F. Scott Fitzgerald – Tender is the Night (1933) August

5. My Brilliant Career – Miles Franklin (1901) – March

6. Graham Greene – Brighton Rock (1938) – April

7. Radcliffe Hall – The Well of Loneliness (1928) – June

8. Nick Hornby – A Long Way Down (2005) – May

9. Khaled Hosseini – A Thousand Splendid Suns (2006) September

10. Jean Rhys – Wide Sargasso Sea (1966) January

11. Walter Scott – Rob Roy (1817) – December

12. Zadie Smith – The Autograph Man (2002) – October


13. Maggie O’Farrell – The Hand That First Held Mine (2009)

14. The Reader – Bernard Schlink (1995)