Saturday, December 16, 2023

Anna O.

Anna O. by Matthew Blake
1/2/24; 432 pages

Anna O. by Matthew Blake is a very highly recommended, unique, well-written literary psychological thriller. If you love Hitchcock movies and thoughtful, intelligent even-paced mysteries, this will be a perfect choice for your next book.

Dr. Benedict (Ben) Prince is a forensic psychologist who is also an expert in sleep-related crimes. He has written articles and a book that have brought him to the attention of the public, especially regarding the case of Anna O.  Anna Ogilvy stabbed her two best friends to death in her sleep when she was twenty-five. Since that night four years ago she has been in a deep sleep. This sleep, diagnosed as resignation syndrome, is a condition where a person enters an involuntary extended deep sleep as a way to avoid trauma. Ben recently wrote an article that suggested ways to address this condition, perhaps even cure it.

Ben works at the Abbey Sleep Clinic. When his boss Dr. Virginia Bloom summons him to a secret meeting with a man from the Ministry of Justice, he learns that Anna O. is going to be moved into the clinic. They want him to wake her up so she can be charged with murder. However, there are more secrets involved in this case that make success anything but a simple, guaranteed outcome.

Anna O. is a excellent, electrifying, exceptional, layered, and very unique novel. It is a very, very good complex psychological thriller. Anna O. is also much more literary, intricate, and thoughtful than the majority of psychological thrillers out there. Additionally, it does not follow the formula almost every other psychological thriller follows. The pre-publication notes on Anna O. really raised expectations to a pinnacle of excellence, which did a bit of a disservice to this intelligent, suspenseful, well-written novel that should be targeting literary readers who will appreciate and enjoy the basic mystery aspects while relishing all the other references made and layers it offers.

The narrative is told through several point-of-view, mainly Ben's, and Anna's journal entries. There are plenty of references to Hitchcock movies that help to add a thoughtful depth and an atmospheric tension. Readers can also expect references to many many literary works. Characters are portrayed as full realized, realistic complicated individuals. Readers are privy to private thoughts There are clues interspersed in the plot along with plenty of misdirection. Anna O. is definitely an engrossing literary psychological thriller written to be read carefully rather than racing through the pages. 

Disclosure: My review copy was courtesy of HarperCollins via Edelweiss.

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