Summary and book reviews of Mr. Peanut by Adam Ross

Mr. Peanut

by Adam Ross

Mr. Peanut by Adam Ross X
Mr. Peanut by Adam Ross
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

  • First Published:
    Jun 2010, 352 pages
    Paperback:
    Apr 2011, 352 pages

  • Rate this book


Book Reviewed by:
Elena Spagnolie
Buy This Book

About this Book

Book Summary

Mesmerizing, exhilarating, and profoundly moving, Mr. Peanut is a police procedural of the soul, a poignant investigation of the relentlessly mysterious human heart—and a first novel of the highest order.

David Pepin has been in love with his wife, Alice, since the moment they met in a university seminar on Alfred Hitchcock. After thirteen years of marriage, he still can’t imagine a remotely happy life without her—yet he obsessively contemplates her demise. Soon she is dead, and David is both deeply distraught and the prime suspect.

The detectives investigating Alice’s suspicious death have plenty of personal experience with conjugal enigmas: Ward Hastroll is happily married until his wife inexplicably becomes voluntarily and militantly bedridden; and Sam Sheppard is especially sensitive to the intricacies of marital guilt and innocence, having decades before been convicted and then exonerated of the brutal murder of his wife.

Still, these men are in the business of figuring things out, even as Pepin’s role in Alice’s death grows ever more confounding when they link him to a highly unusual hit man called Mobius. Like the Escher drawings that inspire the computer games David designs for a living, these complex, interlocking dramas are structurally and emotionally intense, subtle, and intriguing; they brilliantly explore the warring impulses of affection and hatred, and pose a host of arresting questions. Is it possible to know anyone fully, completely? Are murder and marriage two sides of the same coin, each endlessly recycling into the other? And what, in the end, is the truth about love?

Mesmerizing, exhilarating, and profoundly moving, Mr. Peanut is a police procedural of the soul, a poignant investigation of the relentlessly mysterious human heart—and a first novel of the highest order.

Excerpt
Mr. Peanut

WHEN DAVID PEPIN FIRST DREAMED of killing his wife, he didn't kill her himself. He dreamed convenient acts of God. At a picnic on the beach, a storm front moved in. David and Alice collected their chairs, blankets, and booze, and when the lightning flashed, David imagined his wife lit up, her skeleton distinctly visible as in a children's cartoon, Alice then collapsing into a smoking pile of ash. He watched her walk quickly across the sand, the tallest object in the wide-open space. She even stopped to observe the piling clouds. "Some storm," she said. He tempted fate by hubris. In his mind he declared: I, David Pepin, am wiser and more knowing than God, and I, David Pepin, know that God shall not, at this very moment, on this very beach, Jones Beach, strike my wife down. God did not. David knew more. And in their van, when the rain came so densely it seemed they were in a car wash, he boasted of his godliness to Alice, asked rhetorically if a penis this large and ...

Please be aware that this discussion guide may contain spoilers!
  1. How do the three different marriages depicted in Mr. Peanut relate to one another? What traits differentiate each marriage?
  2. In our question and answer session with Adam Ross, he expressed his hope that "readers experience a series of recognitions. That they read about each marriage and say, ‘Yes, I've been there.' " What, if anything, struck a chord with you about the relationships in Mr. Peanut?
  3. Are married people capable of change? Does Mr. Peanut answer this question?
  4. Mobius remarks upon "the dual nature of marriage, the proximity of violence and love" (p. 238). Discuss how Mr. Peanut links marriage and violence.
  5. How convincingly does Ross portray deep love alongside the ugly thoughts...
Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!

Reviews

BookBrowse Review

BookBrowse

What Ross does well is to encourage readers to make connections between the three couples' situations by weaving similar details throughout all three stories. His use of description, particularly his sense of place (whether in New York, Hawaii or Ohio) transports readers and allows the setting to contribute to the telling of the story....I waiver between recommending this book and not, but I think that if you take the time to consider it, especially if you have the commitment to read it a second time, there are many interesting conversations to be had.   (Reviewed by Elena Spagnolie).

Full Review (789 words).

This review is available to non-members for a limited time. For full access, become a member today.

Media Reviews

Publishers Weekly
It's a unique book—stark and sublime, creepy and fearless—that readers into the darker end of the literary spectrum won't want to miss.

Library Journal
The author has created an absorbing puzzle and handles the writing with skill, but the world inside this novel is fairly bleak and unsavory. Recommended for ambitious readers.

Kirkus Reviews
Starred Review. A Möbius strip of a novel, folding the unsavory anticipation of American Psycho into a domestic drama straight out of Carver-esque America … An intellectual noir novel and an original voice.

Booklist
Starred Review. With its noirish sensibility and eloquent prose, this dark novel depicts marriage as one “long double homicide".

Author Blurb Richard Russo
Mr. Peanut is as ingenious as it is riveting.

Author Blurb Stephen King
The most riveting look at the dark side of marriage since Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?…It induced nightmares, at least in this reader. No mean feat.

Reader Reviews

R.M. Trilipush

Excellent Debut
Mr. Peanut is definitely worth a read. I enjoyed the Escher-esque plot, the allusions to Hitchcock and Nabokov, and the shout out to Silence of the Lambs. But most of all, I liked the writing. It's hard to find a book these days that is both ...   Read More

Bonnie Brody

Disappointing Read
I read Mr. Peanut and was quite disappointed. The book was disjointed, it seemed to try and go too many places and the ultimate feeling I had was boredom. It is about a man whose wife dies from choking on a peanut. Did he kill her or was it an ...   Read More

Write your own review!

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!

Beyond the Book

Peanuts and Anaphylaxis

When asked in an interview if there was any particular event that inspired Mr. Peanut, Adam Ross responded that: "In 1995, my father told me the strangest, most suspicious story about my cousin, who had severe peanut allergies and was also morbidly obese. According to her husband, he arrived home to find her sitting at the kitchen table with a plate of peanuts in front of her, and upon seeing him she stuffed a handful into her mouth and then went into anaphyla­tic shock. Her last words to him were, 'Call 911.'"  (read the interview)

It may seem strange that eating something as tiny as a peanut could cause a violent allergic reaction strong enough to kill a person, however, Ross does not exaggerate the severity of&#...

This "beyond the book" feature is available to non-members for a limited time. Join today for full access.

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!

Readalikes

Readalikes Full readalike results are for members only

More books by Adam Ross

If you liked Mr. Peanut, try these:

Non-members are limited to two results. Become a member
Search Readalikes again
How we choose readalikes
Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!

Editor's Choice

  • Book Jacket: The Kinship of Secrets
    The Kinship of Secrets
    by Eugenia Kim
    Of our 20 First Impressions readers who submitted reviews for The Kinship of Secrets, all rated it ...
  • Book Jacket: Empire of Sand
    Empire of Sand
    by Tasha Suri
    Tasha Suri's debut novel, Empire of Sand, reads like something out of 1001 Arabian Nights, both ...
  • Book Jacket: In Byron's Wake
    In Byron's Wake
    by Miranda Seymour
    It's tempting to think that our age of celebrity worship coupled with the 24-hour news cycle is ...
  • Book Jacket: The Latecomers
    The Latecomers
    by Helen Klein Ross
    The Latecomers is the third novel written by acclaimed author Helen Klein Ross, following What Was ...

Book Discussion
Book Jacket
Force of Nature
by Jane Harper

As atmospheric, tense, and explosive as her New York Times bestselling debut, The Dry!

About the book
Join the discussion!

Readers Recommend

  • Book Jacket

    House of Stone
    by Novuyo Rosa Tshuma

    A masterful debut, pulsing with dark humor, that explores the often destructive act of history-making.
    Reader Reviews

Win this book!
Win To Lay To Rest Our Ghosts

To Lay to Rest Our Ghosts

"Caitlin Hamilton Summie is our modern Chekhov."
- Savvy Verse & Wit

Enter

Word Play

Solve this clue:

Everything I H-D

and be entered to win..

Books that     
entertain,
     engage

 & enlighten

Visitors can view some of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only.

Join Today!

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends books that we believe to be best in class. Books that will whisk you to faraway places and times, that will expand your mind and challenge you -- the kinds of books you just can't wait to tell your friends about.