Thursday, September 2, 2010

111 - Mr. Peanut; Adam Ross


















David Pepin is a computer game designer who fantasizes about the possible ways that his wife Alice might die.  He even has dreams about her death.  In his first dream, her death was caused by an act of God. They spent a nice day at the beach, then a storm moved in, and Alice is struck by lightening. In the dream, she "lights up" and "collapses into a pile of ash".

David claims to love his wife. However, he is even secretly writing a book about her death. They've been married 13 years, and while Alice has struggled with weight issues, having hit the 300lb mark on the scales, she had also lost huge amounts of weight and becomes thin. David admits to liking his wife better when she was morbidly obese as her personality was more pleasant, she seemed more even-keeled, and she had fewer bouts of depression.

So when Alice is found dead, David becomes the prime suspect.  Her death was caused by anaphylactic shock, and a peanut to which she was severely allergic, was found lodged in her throat. What happened?

Well, this is where things get a bit complicated. Two NYPD detectives are assigned to investigate Alice's murder. Both of these men have had their own marriage issues. In fact homicide detective Sam Sheppard was tried for the beating death of his own wife years earlier, and Ward Hastroll, the other detective, has a wife at home who has voluntarily taken to her bed for the last five months. Nothing Ward says or does seems to change the way things are at home.  Then there is an odd PI named Mobius that David hires to find Alice when she goes missing. Though Mobius is clearly peculiar, for some reason, David feels comfortable sharing his fantasies about his wife's death.  It was at about this point that I became to pay closer attention, suspecting a possible gimmick to trick the reader.

Without giving away anything, I'll just say that this mystery was not at all like what I had expected.  It is really a story about three marriages, not one, and it is told from strictly males points of view.  All three men had marriages which were in some way disappointing to them, and yet each had failed recognize the issues their wives were dealing with.  Sheppard was a womanizer, Hastroll's wife felt invisible to her husband, and David and Alice stopped talking after Alice suffered a devastating miscarriage.

There are lots of things going on in Mr. Peanut, and the reader needs to pay careful attention or risks getting lost in the somewhat unusual storyline. Fortunately, the writing is terrific in this debut novel; it kept me guessing and wondering, but this book did test my patience at times and took longer than anticipated to finish. The author has a great imagination, and in the end I was happy I finished the book. I would be interested to see what new offerings Adam Ross has in the future.
RECOMMENDED - 4/5 stars (Library Book)

21 comments:

  1. I want to read this. I'm trying to hold out, not download it to the Kindle until I've read a few more of the books I already own, but reviews like this are making it very very difficult.

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  2. I put this on reserve at my library after seeing it in Bookmarks magazine. All the great reviews just make me that much more excited to read it!

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  3. I have been wanting to read this one so bad. It sounds so weird but interesting!

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  4. Great review! I've been on the fence about this one but am now leaning towards reading it.

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  5. I like stories about couples struggling in their marriages, so I'll keep this one in mind.

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  6. I've got a copy of this book and will get it read at some point. That cover is kind of disconcerting to me. Kind of makes me woozy to look at it too long. LOL

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  7. I want to get hold of this book! The cover is fabulous and it sounds so good! I'm glad to see you enjoyed it so much.

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  8. Good review, i am putting this on my wishlist!

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  9. I've seen this around, but you're the first person to persuade me to add it to the list. Thanks :-)

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  10. It really does sound interesting, except I do get lost easily!

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  11. I am glad that you liked it! Wasn't it just so weird? I thought that Ross had a really interesting way of telling a story, and made it almost like a maze. I think the most interesting sections for me were the sections when we really got into the character's heads. What did you think about the ending??

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  12. I've read a couple of reviews on this book and it sounds quite absorbing. Terrific review!

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  13. A guy who fantasizes about his wife's death? What a freak! This definitely is a different theme, one that has potential. I wonder how much I will cringe, but going by your review, this sounds worth a read too!

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  14. I'm glad to see something that sounds so unique getting so much buzz.

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  15. I have to admit, I've heard so much about this on Twitter that I've been completely turned off this one.

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  16. Boy this sounds like something else. I don't think I can resist.

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  17. I like the sound of this one, but not because the I share the same name as the character. LOL.

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  18. I hadn't heard of this one before, but now I'm completely fascinated by its idea. I have to read it!

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  19. This sounds like a page turner and knowing ahead of time that I need to pay attention will help me a lot!

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  20. I made a note to myself to pick this one up the other day. It looks really good but does look like it could be a bit of work too. Not a breeze-thru by any means.

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  21. This one does sound interesting. I'm glad I read your review because based on the cover, I wouldn't have even looked twice at it...

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