Today I’m sharing my thoughts on the brand new thriller from Laura Marshall, The Anniversary, which was released in paperback this week. My thanks to Kirsteen Astor at Sphere for providing an advance copy for review. Here’s what it’s all about:
About the Book
Eleven murders. Twenty-five years ago.
Are some truths better left buried?
On 15th June 1994, Travis Green – husband, father, upstanding citizen – walked through the streets of Hartstead and killed eleven of his neighbours. The final victim was four-year-old Cassie Colman’s father.
As the twenty-five year anniversary approaches, Cassie would rather forget the past – even as her mother struggles to remember it at all. Then something hidden in her mother’s possessions suggests those eleven murders were not what everyone believes.
Once Cassie suspects she’s been lied to about the most important event of her life, she can’t stop digging up the past.
But someone will do anything to keep it buried . . .
Cassie Colman is a survivor of one of the most traumatic experiences that anyone can imagine. When she was four, a gunman took to the streets of her home town of Hartstead, shooting people at random, one of the victims being her own father. I’m sure many of us can imagine the horror of this, having seen far too many of these kinds of incidents over the years, even if we have not been directly involved. We know the who – this is very clear from the start of the book – but the why had never been revealed. Until now.
This is a very cleverly plotted and executed psychological thriller, drawing us as readers into Cassie’s complicated and emotionally charged world. She has always been that girl – tragic little Cassie Colman – the one who got survived. Her attempts to distance herself from her past have not gone especially well and as a new mother, struggling with her responsibility to her daughter and caring for her mother who has early onset dementia, she is someone I felt a kind of affinity for, even if sometimes her attitude and behaviour seemed reckless. It’s understandable, very carefully handled, and authentic in portrayal. Anyone would struggle in Cassie’s position and Laura Marshall has done a brilliant job of creating a character who, whilst very prickly and reticent, still captured my attention and made me more invested in the story.
The tale is told from two points of view – primarily Cassie’s – but with short scenes in which we are treated to the point of view of the killer – Travis Green. The scenes serve to explain his motivations and give us as readers more of an insight into each of the victims, but are carefully placed throughout the book so that these revelations, these introductions, only happen at moments where a key discovery is made by Cassie in relation to why Travis did what he did, and what secrets, if any, the people of Hartstead may be keeping. The whole thing is senstively handled – not graphic or gratuitous in anyway – giving readers just enough to understand the full impact of what occured.
There is plenty of mystery in this book, key clues dropped along the way, and a good deal of tension as there are people in the town who would prefer Cassie let sleeping dogs lie. When it comes to those who may not want the truth uncovered, there are plenty of suspects, and just when you think pinned down got the who, Laura Marshall throws a new name into the mix, muddying the waters. Pacing, for me, was perfect, and I finished it in one afternoon and evening. I was hooked to the story, intrigued by the whys and wherefores of it all, and really drawn to the characters.
The dual stories – surviving the aftermath of a mass shooting and the way the community handled the tragedy, and the difficulty of caring for someone through the swift progression of dementia – gave a real emotional pull to the book, whilst the investigation, the need to understand the backstory to the tragedy, kept my attention completely rapt as we powered to a high stakes and somewhat surprising ending. I think this is the first book I’ve read by the author, but I’ll definitely be back for more.
About the Author
Laura Marshall is the Sunday Times top ten and Kindle No. 1 bestselling author of three psychological thrillers. Her first two novels, FRIEND REQUEST and THREE LITTLE LIES have sold over half a million copies in the UK and been translated into twenty-five languages. Her third novel, THE ANNIVERSARY, will be released on 5th August 2021.
She grew up in Wiltshire, studied English at the University of Sussex and currently lives in Kent with her family.