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Roger Jon Ellory

Orion £7.99 tbo

Rel Feb 2004

Reviewed by Russell James

Ellory's second book shows he is a writer to watch. As in Candlemoth his theme is memory - the past is never dead - and again this West Midlands based writer tackles recent American history. Annie O'Neill is lonely and spinsterish, yet she's only 32. Into her second hand bookstore drifts the mysterious Mr Forrester, a cordial man who offers a manuscript - one that seems to bear on Annie's past. Forrester's tale is of gangsters, murder and revenge, and Annie soon realises that it is true, and she's a part of it. The tale, and the events gradually closing in on her, transform her life. Ellory's characters are fresh, his prose is mature, and if the point to which the story is heading is no surprise, it arrives with a splendidly unexpected twist - even if that strong climax is preceded by a sudden loss of tempo as the heroine wilts for 30 pages. Don't worry - you can skim through this bit and gobble up an original and riveting book.

Russell James