I have to review this book just because it fooled me in a couple ways. It’s not a bad novel, but what stuck with me was the non-plot-related surprises.
First of all, although the story is set in America, it gradually dawned on me as I read that the author had to be English. I noticed, eventually, that double quotation marks were set inside single quotation marks in dialogue, in the English style. Also the author threw in English-isms like “bonnet” for the hood of a car, or “Too right,” as an idiomatic phrase.
The second surprise only came at the end. More on that later.
The story of The Anniversary centers on Paul Rigby, a police detective in a small town. For the past year he has been balanced on the edge of career disaster. He’s approaching the anniversary of the death of his fiancée. He loved her deeply, but learned after she was gone that she’d lied to him and betrayed him. Since then he’s been drinking heavily, getting into fights, and being self-destructive in general. The only thing standing between him and unemployment is his police chief, who has a fatherly fondness for him and has allowed him to live in an apartment above his garage, where he can keep an eye on him.
The plot of the book involves an accountant who’s arrested for embezzlement, but swears he’s innocent. Rigby narrowly avoids going to bed with the man’s wife, and does his best to investigate the case, in between fights and suspensions from duty and getting his ankle in a cast.
The character of Rigby was well-conceived, but went a little too far for my taste. What I mean is, it’s fine to create a damaged personality with lots of anger and pain in him, but so much time was spent on Rigby’s unhappiness that (for me) it slowed the story down and told us more than we cared to know.
Which was all explained when I discovered that the author, Mel Parish, is not a man as I had assumed, but a woman. Usually I can (or think I can) identify a male character written by a female, but Rigby fooled me. What I took for a failure in narrative was in fact just a woman’s point of view. Author Parish did a better than usual job of getting into a man’s head, but (in my opinion) spent too much time in there, describing the exotic furnishings.
Not perfect, but you might enjoy it. Some rough language and mild sex. And some violence, of course.