Stimulus: Adam Ross – Mr. Peanut
It’s too bad that the one element in Mr. Peanut that makes sense of the rest of the story comes at the end of the book, because once the reader gets to that humanizing point one is probably burnt out on all the David Lynch psychothriller tedium slogged through along the way. What is at its core a tale of disintegrating marriage and recovering purpose fragments into a repetitive meditation on these things, the sum total being four stories that could have been told in two.
Those two stories center around a genius game programmer accused of murdering his wife. She’s a woman who has suffered through a whole mess of physical problems in her lifetime and through their marriage. Spooky things happen, people screw, the programmer writes a sinister book, and there’s a beady eyed dwarf hitman wreaking havoc. Those are to be expected. The problem is that after the introductions, the book takes a half of its width examining the marital problems of the two detectives assigned to the murder case. Without blinking, the book ditches the accused and dives after the lives of his accusers like a dog chasing cars.
One of the dicks has a wife who won’t get out of bed; the other is Dr. Sam Sheppard, real-life defendant in one of the most famous wife murder cases of the 20th century. In real life, Sheppard died over 40 years ago, but for some reason he’s alive and kicking in Ross’s present-day world.
The Sheppard chapters in particular reads like an erotic true crime fanfiction, analyzing the events leading up to his wife’s murder in heavy detail and sinking into yet another unnecessary musing on failing marriages. I could have handled the detective with the bedridden wife in a small dose, but bringing Sheppard into it hijacked and derailed the entire story.
Adam Ross had more than enough potential with his main characters that he didn’t need to go on the excessive tangents he went on with the detectives. Unfortunately, he did.
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