Thursday 26 August 2021

Review | The Anniversary by Laura Marshall

Published by Sphere on August 5, 2021

The Anniversary is Laura Marshall’s third novel and just as I have come to expect by this author, it was a cleverly written, compelling read with a chilling premise and suspenseful execution. This was possibly more of a slowburner than Laura’s previous books as the drama takes a bit longer to unfold, but every chapter kept me reading on and had me intrigued and enthralled, eager to learn the truth.

On the 15th of June 1994, Travis Banks went on a killing spree in Hartstead, shooting dead eleven people before turning the gun on himself. There’s been a lot of rumours about the reasons why Banks did this, and lots of unanswered questions. Did he have an accomplice? Were the victims as random as they seemed? 25 years later, the anniversary of this horrific event is approaching, and when a journalist is writing an article on the impact tragedies like this have on a town, new things come to light that put Cassie Colman, daughter to Banks’ final victim, on edge. Everything she thought she knew about that day is unravelling in front of her, and as Cassie strives to learn the truth, is she putting lives at risk by doing so?

The concept of The Anniversary is fascinating and the author’s storytelling made it so engrossing. Whilst the main story is set in present day, there are chapters that go back to the day each of the killer’s victims die, and, as unsettling as it was seeing their final moments, I loved hearing their stories, learning briefly about their lives and what had led them to the day that they would be tragically taken from the world.

In the present day, Cassie becomes embroiled in the journalist’s research into the shooting, which presents more questions than answers. Cassie was four on the day it all happened and has never really questioned the small bits she does know about the shooting. However, her curiosities get the better of her and soon she is obsessed with learning more, finding that each new discovery makes her addiction to learning the truth grow. It was easy to see how Cassie could get so wrapped up in the case as, as the reader, I felt exactly the same way. It was such a gripping concept and I had no clue how to piece any of it together so therefore found myself hanging on the author’s every word.

This book was full of well-drawn characters, but what I particular loved was how this was a thriller with real heart – the characters here weren’t made simply to be hated but instead each one had a story and their own struggles and whilst there was a fixation with working out which ones could be trusted, there was also the side of me that wanted to learn more about all of their lives to help me understand each one better.

Cassie had enough going on in her own life before the journalist got in touch. Between her struggles of being a single mother to Amy to morally battling with how to best care for her mum who has dementia, Laura Marshall writes in such a refreshingly honest way about motherhood and all its challenges. Cassie is finding it hard to cope with both a demanding baby and a mother who has days where she does not even recognise her daughter, and each strand of motherhood is written with a gritty honesty that I’m sure many people could relate to even if some of the thoughts Cassie has are not that easy to admit to.

It didn’t take me long to become really invested in every aspect of The Anniversary with chapters that insisted I had to keep on reading and I begrudged every time I had to put the book down. Throughout the course of the novel I was suspicious of everyone except maybe who I should have suspected the most, and I loved that I was always kept guessing and left wondering what if?. I would highly recommend this book.

Review copy provided by the publisher - this was my honest review.      

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