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Now and then along comes a giant
on March 16, 2013
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 RAVELED, a brilliantly bold mystery novel tucked inside a decaying old crotchety Southern town, that plead 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.
Much of the story of New York bartender Allison Fennimore's call to return to the town of Lavitte, North Carolina is in response to her bizarre rehabbed brother Kevin's call to return to the decadent little home to re-open the case of their father Artie's conviction of murder: 16 years prior to the opening of this story (and revisited as certain chapters change time on us) their father was jailed for the murder of the mayor's son Bobby Kettrick and of a 14 year old trailer park trash girl. Though the father had died in jail before a proper trial, the town turned against him as the murderer of not only the mayor's son but of an innocent girl and the Fennimore name has been permanently besmirched. Or as Allison describes, `This was how my mind worked lately. In circles. Between my brother going to mandatory rehab, my mother dabbling in dementia, and the recent airing of `Big Crimes, Small Towns' on cable, I felt trapped on a mental merry-go-round, the gears grinding against the bone of my middle ear, the music stuck in a dissonant minor chord.'
But Allison walks the walk she talks the local sheriff into sharing the documents of the night of arrest, interrogates substance riddled Kevin, seeks out the families of the victims and the friends of Booby Kettrick, interviews one of the mothers of a friend of Bobby's, a Mrs. Smith - `Mrs. Smith came to the door with a dismissive `We gave are the church' line at the ready, until her face coated over in surprise. At least I think it was surprise. It might have been horror. Hard to tell because Mrs. Smith had clearly jumped on the Botox train and was speeding fast towards the wax museum. Her eyebrows would soon be earbrows if she wasn't careful...Her mouth moved up and down as she spoke, as if she were incapable of a pucker. I'd seen it in New York a thousand times. A hit of Botox around the upper margins of the top lip that eventually turned into a full syringe of chemical filler per visit. Helped with wrinkles but was hell on a sip of water.' - and others present on that fateful night. And we meet some strange creatures.
It is this kind of mixture of comic writing that brings light into what was actually a grisly story to begin with, a tale of how a small town with small people can poison a family because blaming the father figure clears up all possibilities of an investigation into how inherently corrupt and stinky the entire town was, is, and will be. But enough of an outline: to really unravel this mystery any more than that would rob the reader of the rocket ride through the grease and grits and grime of McAneny's priceless novel.
This is a book that glowingly reveals the talent of the writer while at the same time presenting a torqued tale that the `children' of the deceased accused murderer must unravel. It is one of those books that once started must be finished - with multiple earmarks on pages that plead to be re-read purely for the joy of the verbiage. In other words, it has everything - small town mentality and the distortion of truth and lies that mold an atmosphere that just fits so right you could swear you were there. This reader has added a new favorite writer! Grady Harp, March 13