I bought Mr. Peanut because of the cover. Seems you put a skull on something and I can’t help myself. Who knew I was such a morbid woman?

David loves Alice for all the reasons she does not love herself including her shape. She is overweight, and when she decides to change her life . . . again, David does not pay much mind because he has purchased her a million weight loss products and fitness devices. However, this time Alice is serious, and she begins to lose the weight and change herself inside and out. Needless to say, this disconcerts David because Alice seemingly no longer has much interest in their life as a couple or him at all. He has dreamed of killing Alice many times both as a wish and as a defense against losing her. When someone kills Alice, David is, of course, the prime suspect. As anyone who watches any crime drama knows, the spouse is in the hot seat first.

Layered over the fissures of David and Alice’s relationship are the relationships of the two detectives investigating David’s case and their respective wives. Detective Sheppard, the philanderer, has a “matchstick house” life, while Detective Hastroll must contend with his wife’s diminishing capacity to care for herself. These relationships produce a mirror effect amplifying David and Alice’s relationship while revealing the commonality of the strains people face within a marriage. I had visions of the Polanski mirror scene in Macbeth. This presents another discussion for a different day.

The killer in this book is unexpected and expected. Ross caught me unawares. I read the book in three days and found myself wanting to discuss it with everyone. Regardless of whether you like the book or not, it provides ample opportunity for questions and conversations. As I read, I linked the book with early seasons of Mad Men, and Josh Christie, a bookseller for Sherman’s of Maine and a blogger of Brews  and Books fame, suggested reading Updike’s Rabbit series, while Stephen King suggested a link between Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf and Mr. Peanut. One could perhaps investigate some Alfred Hitchcock as David himself does in the latter portion of the book where he flashes back to the time he met Alice in a college course. (Their professor makes the subtle chicken reference.)

Mr. Peanut strikes in an unanticipated way, and there is nothing subtle about it. It is a stick-to-the-ribs novel, which I am still dying to discuss with my non-existent book group. Not over chicken, though, or for that matter, a bowl full of peanuts.

Veronica K. Brooks-Sigler

Bookseller/Social Medium/Author of Five Finger Fiction

Maple Street Book Shops