Thursday 1 February 2024



Title: ANNA O
Matthew Blake
HarperCollins UK, Harper Fiction, HarperCollins
Release Date:
1st February 2024


What if your nightmares weren’t really nightmares at all?

We spend an average of thirty-three years of our lives asleep. But what really happens, and what are we capable of, when we are sleeping?

Anna Ogilvy was a budding twenty-five-year-old writer with a bright future. Then, one night, she stabbed two people to death with no apparent motive—and she hasn’t woken up since. Dubbed “Sleeping Beauty” by the tabloids, Anna suffers from a rare psychosomatic disorder known to neurologists as “resignation syndrome.”

Dr. Benedict Prince is a forensic psychologist and an expert in the field of sleep-related homicides. His methods represent the last possible hope of solving the infamous “Anna O” case by waking Anna up so she can stand trial. But the doctor must be careful treating such a high-profile suspect—he’s got career secrets and a complicated personal life of his own.

As Anna shows the first signs of stirring, Benedict knows he must determine what really happened and whether Anna should be held responsible for her crimes.

Only Anna knows the truth about that night, but only Benedict knows how to discover it. And they’re both in danger from what they will discover. 

Goodreads Link

The cover fits the book really well, it certainly draws your attention and makes you want to pick up the book to learn more about it. I think the byline of “The World Will Know Her Name” adds to your curiosity about the content of the book and it also fits the content really well.

The main characters of the book are Anno Ogilvy and Dr Benedict Prince. To be honest life isn’t going great for either of them separately and becomes even more complicated after their paths cross.

Dr Benedict Prince is divorced from his wife DI Clara Fennel, he found messages on his wife’s phone that suggested she was cheating on him. They have one daughter Kitty or Kit Kat as Benedict regularly calls her though Clara hates him doing so. Clara of course kept the house so there was less disruption for Kitty and Benedict ended up in a rather drab flat in Pimlico. Benedict if a forensic psychologist and also works at The Abbey. A place where the rich and famous come to have sleep issues dealt with. Its very exclusive and does everything possible to protect the identities of these famous patients, even having a separate VIP floor away from other patients. It’s a fairly normal day for Ben when he is called into the office by head of the clinic Professor Virginia Bloom, to discuss a patient being transferred to the Abbey from Rampton Prison. The Ministry of Justice, the government, all want Ben to wake up this patient so they can stand trial for the double murder they have been holding her for.

That patient is Anna Ogilvy, comes from a relatively “well to do” family. At the time of the crime, her mother was Baroness Emily Ogilvy was a Shadow Home Secretary and her father was a Global Fund Manager, her brother Theo a “want to be” Tv Presenter. Anna herself was a journalist on a magazine she had co-founded with her friends Indira Sharma and Douglas Bute who were also her flatmates.

The crime occurred on the 30th August 2019. Anna O was found by her parents in her cabin at 3.10am at The Farm an exclusive retreat, with a 20cm kitchen knife in her hand and fast asleep. The bodies of Indira and Douglas were found in their cabin, stabbed to death. First at the scene of the crime was DI Clara Fennel and she found only Anna’s prints on the knife and that the blood on her clothing matched that of the victims.

Those that believe in Anna’s innocence refer to her as “Anna O” her Instagram handle and are known as “believers”. Those who think that Anna is guilty refer to her as “sleeping beauty”. There has been lots of coverage about what happened that night, but no one really knows the truth except Anna. One blog in particular seems to know a lot and keep the story alive by @Suspect8. This is where the byline fits really well everyone has heard about Anna and of course everyone has their opinion and thoughts about what happened at The Farm that night in August 2019. Ben’s job is to wake her up so that the justice system can put her on trial and determine whether she killed her friends and decide what to do with her.

The plot is quite intricate, and fairly complex, in that the fact Ben’s now ex-wife was first on the scene does sort of complicate things. The book was quite slow paced for my taste, I felt like I was wanting it to speed up at times and get on with it and reveal what actually happened that night. Then when Professor Bloom is murdered and someone puts Ben in the frame things become even more complicated than before.

I found the plot sections surrounding waking up Anna fascinating, and have read about some of the techniques that Ben used in the book elsewhere too. The sounds, her mums voice, the music she loved and then the smells, her favourite perfume, etc all small things that Ben builds on to coax Anna back to the world of the awake and living. I thoroughly enjoyed the Sally Turner story within the book, the way the reader is kept guessing right up to the end of the identity of Sally Turner’s child that was given a new identity.

There are quite a few “real life” references within the book about other murderers such as Dr Harold Shipman, and then laws that were changed regarding anonymity of minors involved in crimes due to the James Bulger case, all of which made the book feel “real” as if it had actually happened.

The book also covers how the crime at The Farm affected so many people in different ways, from Anna’s parents divorcing, her mother walking away from politics and turning to religion, to DI Clara Fennel and how it changed her career. When Ben is working with Anna at the Abbey, he has to consider his families safety as there are people who do not agree with him waking Anna to put her on the stand.

This book has it all mystery, suspense, twists, turns, betrayal, and revenge. There were a few times I thought I had solved the mystery of Sally Turner’s child and knew their identity. I had several theories as to what had happened at The Farm too, these varied and changed as I read more of the book! Matthew Blake really takes you on a journey leading the reader down one track of presenting the identity of Sally Turners child and exactly what happened on that August night, just when you start to believe that track there’s a twist/turn and you have to start pondering the mystery child’s identity and their involvement in the murders at The Farm.

Summing up this Author really keeps you waiting to the very end to confirm the identity of the child and the relevance of what happened at The Farm. I did enjoy the book though there were times it felt a little drawn out and slower paced than I would have preferred it to be for my personal taste. If you want a book that makes you think, makes you really, really, think then this book is a great fit for you. 

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