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Novel's plot devices as old as fiction itself


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"Anyone but Him" by Theresa Linden. Silver Fire Publishing (Elyria, Ohio, 2018). 295 pp., $13.95.

The novel "Anyone but Him" is labeled on its cover "a new adult mystery romance". While it is admittedly new, its plot devices are as old as fiction itself. The story concerns a young woman, Caitlyn Summer, who awakes one morning not knowing who she is or where she is or who is the man sharing her bed.

We learn he is Jarrett and he is Caitlyn's husband, but, most of the time, in Caitlyn's view, he doesn't seem particularly happy about that. The story follows Caitlyn's struggle to regain her memory and learn why she became an amnesiac.

We are introduced to Roland, Jarrett's brother, who seems as kind and supportive as Jarrett is not, and Caitlyn wonders why she didn't marry him. Another character is a friend, Mike, a doctor, who seems to have endless time on his hands and spends most of it making house calls on Caitlyn. Of course, we learn that no one is what they appear to be.

Caitlyn and Jarrett are both Catholics and, although Caitlyn has lost years of her memory, she can recite prayers she learned in childhood. Neither Caitlyn nor Jarrett seem interested in going to Mass or sharing their faith with other people. The focus of their Catholicism is the pro-life movement and shutting abortion clinics.

While the pro-life movement is important, no social or political issue is at the center of what it means to be a Catholic. Its use as a plot device seems cynical and manipulative rather than galvanizing and significant.

"Anyone but Him" is readable and suspenseful and hard to put down, but once the reader does put it down, it vanishes like morning fog.

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Yearley is pursuing a doctorate of ministry in a joint program sponsored by Ashland Seminary in Ashland, Ohio, and the Ecumenical Institute at St. Mary's Seminary and University in Baltimore.

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