reviewed by Warner Holme
Matthew Blake’s Anna O presents an amusing twist on the classic murder mystery genre. In this story, a young woman named Anna Ogilvy is implicated in a double homicide, only to fall into a deep, unending sleep for four years. The intriguing part? She might have been sleepwalking during the incident. The possibility of sleepwalking serves as the story’s initial hook.
Benjamin Prince, an expert in sleep psychology, is brought in to unravel the mystery. As he delves into Anna’s case, his own dark secrets begin to surface, adding a complex layer to the narrative.
A notable aspect of the book is how Anna’s voice is conveyed through journal entries, offering insights into her life and her quest for meaning. The effectiveness of this technique may vary among readers, but I found it exceptionally engaging. It also lends a sense of reality and depth to a character who is otherwise non-communicative.
While I am no expert in sleep science, the book presents it with a convincing level of verisimilitude. Literary references, including nods to Harry Potter and Sleeping Beauty, are skillfully woven into the narrative, especially fitting given the plot and the protagonist’s name. Names play a crucial role in the story, highlighting the importance of easily remembered or pronounced first names in criminal investigations. The fluidity and impermanence of names also become significant as secondary plot elements gain momentum.
The story spans much longer than a few days. As months and years pass, public perception of the case and its key figures evolves, influenced by media coverage. Although the theme of true crime as entertainment is explored, it remains a minor element compared to the intricate psychological and familial dynamics.
Anna O is a complex, twisted mystery thriller that keeps readers guessing until the end. The revelations, when they come, feel earned, with barriers to understanding cleverly placed for both characters and readers. It is an easy recommendation for those even remotely curious about a well-crafted mystery.
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