Monday, February 26, 2018

Book Review: 'Circled' by Anne McAneny

Anne McAneny is that rara avis of a writer who creates a solidly entertaining story with as many unique aspects as the inside of a Faberge egg and then tells it with language that is equally as intoxicating as is the story she is weaving. There are many pages of both SKEWED and RAVELED, brilliantly novel mystery stories that pleads to be read repeatedly (or memorized) because the words are so magically strung together. From her bio we know that McAneny is a screenwriter of note (and that explains why this novel seems to plead to be adapted as a movie) but not all screenwriters can narrate strictly on the page without storyboards in head - simply dependent on the gift of writing well. Anne McAneny can.

To say Anne’s books are addictive would be an understatement. Each new release indicates yet more polish not only in her elegant prose but also in her outward spinning sense of intrigue that magnetically attaches to our attention span and will simply not release until book’s end.

The plot summary is well described: ‘A fire ignites a whirlwind of action and accusation in a swamp town that hasn’t seen excitement since the big lottery win twelve years ago. Little does reporter Chloe Keyes know that when she sniffs around for clues, she’ll end up facing her own demons while unsettling the very foundation of her hometown. Chloe starts her day by pulling a gun on two intruders—and things only go downhill from there. Driving to Boyd’s General for her daily caffeine fix, she finds the place ablaze. When the flames die down, she uncovers evidence that points to a dire fate for her missing childhood friend, Hoop. He disappeared twelve years ago, on the same day his girlfriend was struck and killed by a car. The events have left a dark mark on Chloe. Over the next two days, strange occurrences pile up: Chloe’s neighbor is found floating and bloated in Black Swamp; the head of a cosmetics conglomerate is arrested by federal agents; phone records point to a dead girl making calls; and a handsome stranger mystifies everyone he encounters. Through it all, the promise of a spectacular magic show captivates the local residents. Close calls with gators, crossbows, and armed felons lead to a startling conclusion, complete with illusion, chicanery, and the most divisive trick of all: cold, hard truth. Will Chloe’s murky existence finally be clarified, or will she succumb to the demons that haunt her?’

Closing the last page of this book it is obvious that Anne McAneny is one of the more gifted writers of the day. Highly recommended. Grady Harp, August 15

Editor's note: This review has been published with the permission of Grady Harp. Like what you read? Subscribe to the SFRB's free daily email notice so you can be up-to-date on our latest articles. Scroll up this page to the sign-up field on your right.