Who Killed Anne-Marie?

Low self-esteem, alcohol fuel mystery death
Jan Jones

If you have low self-esteem or are in a difficult relationship, you won’t want to read “Who Killed Anne-Marie?” by CM Thompson. This long, sad tale takes place in Great Britain, and most of the ‘action’ is centered in an older cul de sac. Daniel and Anne-Marie Mills occupy one of about nine houses in the not-so-neighborly neighborhood. They were married almost five years ago, but the honeymoon ended a long time ago.

It takes a chapter or two to discover that a couple years ago Anne-Marie suffered a miscarriage. Depression from the loss combined with a family history of alcohol abuse quickly made Anne-Marie a barely functional harridan.

Yet Daniel can’t bring himself to stand up to her or leave. Their problems are made worse by Anne-Marie’s manipulative mother, Sherri, who has hated Daniel from day one. She blames him for all the couple’s problems and refuses to believe that Anne-Marie has a drinking problem. In fact, Sherri often brings booze into their house and encourages Anne-Marie to fabricate tales of how Daniel treats her.

Daniel often turns to Anne-Marie’s brother Peter for support. Peter hates to be put in the middle but keeps getting dragged in. Anne-Marie has learned to use Sherri’s tactics to intimidate and bully everyone in the neighborhood. They are tired of her hateful behavior and wish the Mills would move away.

The house is filthy and smells, but no one cares enough to do anything about it. Anne-Marie spends most of her time drinking and crying in what was supposed to be the baby’s room. Daniel spends most of his time in front of the TV, only venturing upstairs to sleep in what used to be their bedroom. She claims to hate Daniel yet would never leave him.

One January, Anne-Marie falls down the stairs and is hospitalized. She lies well enough to keep from being committed and actually stays sober for a couple weeks, but it doesn’t last. After an especially bad fight, Daniel says he’s leaving her and blindly wanders around the city for several hours. He eventually calls Peter to take him home.

Once there, they find Anne-Marie dead at the bottom of the stairs. The death must be investigated as a possible homicide, so Detectives Grimm and Colvin repeatedly question everyone who knew Anne-Marie. Sherri and most of the neighbors believe that Daniel is guilty, but he is innocent. He returns to the house, knowing that he is being watched even though no one drops by. His first concern is cleaning the bloody stains off the stairway. It seems that no matter hard he scrubs, he cannot get rid of the blood.

After a few weeks he begins to spend less time cleaning and more time drinking and sleeping. Weeks go by and Daniel’s weight balloons. Soon he realizes what Anne-Marie was feeling. Meanwhile, someone “eggs” his front door, vandalizes his car and he starts receiving calls saying “murderer.” His neighbors are also plotting ways to make him sell the house and leave.

Just as Daniel starts the process of clearing the house, the police get the results of a DNA test on tissue under Anne-Marie’s nails. Some is Daniel’s, but the rest is an unknown female. Grimm and Colvin return to the neighborhood to swab all the women.

Before they can begin, an altercation changes everything. It turns out that a neighbor, young mother Laura, has been having an affair. Anne-Marie found out and has been blackmailing her. Laura had to deliver a bottle of booze a week or Anne-Marie would tell the whole neighborhood about the affair. The women argued when Laura was delivering the booze and a misplaced shove sent Anne-Marie to her death.

The mystery is solved, and Daniel is proved innocent, but none of it matters to him anymore. As much as they fought, Anne-Marie was his life and now both are gone. I’ve heard that there are two kinds of people in the world. Those who have things happen to them and those who make things happen. Either one will find something worth reading at YOUR public library. Make plans to visit soon and check it out.