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3.35 out of 53.35 out of 53.35 out of 53.35 out of 53.35 out of 5 3.35 (34 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Adam Ross Narrator: Mark Deakins Publisher: Penguin Random House Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date: June 2010 ISBN: 9780307736161
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David Pepin has been in love with his wife, Alice, since the moment they met in a university seminar on Alfred Hitchcock. After 13 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.

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Quotes & Awards

  • “A dark, dazzling, and deeply flawed novel that announces the debut of an enormously talented writer. An account of three troubled marriages, the book is a Rubik’s cube of a story that reads like a postmodern mash-up of Tolstoy’s Kreutzer Sonata, Edward Albee’s Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, and one of James M. Cain’s noirish mysteries…From the first page on, it’s clear that Mr. Ross…is a literary gymnast. He’s a sorcerer with words, whose David Foster Wallace-like descriptive powers have given him the ability to conjure everything from a pretty Hawaiian beachscape to the slow-motion horror of a car accident with color and élan.”

    New York Times

  • “Ross’s depiction of love is grotesque and tender at once, and his style is commanding as he combines torture and romance to create a sense of vertigo-as-romance. 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.”

    Publishers Weekly

  • “Sophisticated, surreal, and creepy.”

    Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

  • “Of all the novels I read this year, this was the one that I read most eagerly, consuming it in eager gulps, dismissing other obligations.”

    New Republic

  • “A formidable literary talent…Finely wrought and challenging.”

    Philadelphia Inquirer

  • “Ross—in a brilliant stylistic mirror of marriage—blends dream and reality, fact and perception in a narrative that’s both cinematic and lyrical…The book is by turns harrowing, tender, and funny.”

    Cleveland Plain Dealer

  • An author whose voice is so distinct and vivid that you truly can’t find any comparison [and] a book whose combination of rhythm, language and style are unlike anything else I’ve ever encountered…a sort of wondrous literary alchemy [that’s] laugh-out-loud funny and shrewdly aware of human nature…Read Mr. Peanut for its insight into marriage. Read it for the humor.  Read it for the thrills. Just read it, please. Joy Tipping, The Dallas Morning News
  • An ambitious and well-crafted noir that manages to humanise its characters while fashioning their stories into a gripping page-turner. Ross’s depiction of love and hatred, and the conflicted ways we manifest these feelings, is both sensitive and fearless. Mary Fitzgerald, The Guardian (U.K.)
  • Plainly thrilling…the work of a boundlessly eager writer willing to try just about anything, and invite us to share in his sinister joy.” Christopher Kelly, The Kansas City Star
  • Exciting and strangely moving [and] vastly ambitious….The whodunit aspect of Mr. Peanut is absorbing, but the infinite mysteries of marriage are really at the heart of this novel and drive its considerable emotional suspense. Hilma Wolitzer, The East Hampton Star
  • A murder mystery [and] also a complicated jigsaw puzzle of intertwined relationships….This may be [Ross’s] first novel, but it’s written as though he’s been doing it for ages. Dwight Silverman, Houston Chronicle
     
  • An existential puzzle of a book, a noirish work that seemingly has no literary precendent. Rege Behe, Pittsburgh Review-Tribune
  • The debut of an enormously talented writer…From the first page on, it’s clear that Mr. Ross is a literary gymnast [and] a sorcerer with words…Dark, dazzling…A Rubik’s cube of a story that reads like a postmodern mash-up of Tolstoy’s Kreutzer Sonata, Edward Albee’s Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? and one of James M. Cain’s noirish mysteries. Michiko Kakutani, The New York Times
  • Darkly funny, densely woven and deeply unnerving…a page turner that reveals something new from every angle. Jim Ridley, The Nashville Scene
     
  • Gripping…This highly original debut uses the police procedural as a hall of mirrors to reflect pleasure and guilt, marriage and murder. Christopher Fowler, Financial Times
  • An enormous success—forceful and involving, often deeply stirring and always impressively original…A brilliant, powerful, memorable book. Scott Turow, The New York Times Book Review, front page
  • A stunningly dark debut that takes as its forebears both Scott Turow and Italo Calvino…To say this is a thematically rich book is hardly to do [it] justice…there is a way in which this too-clever-to-be-neat story resists such thematics…yet Ross cleaves closely to all the pleasures of the genre: mystery, suspense, romance, surprise. And in this sense, Mr. Peanut is highly unique—a disturbingly funny and remarkably poignant novel from one of the year’s most promising new voices. Jillian Quint, BookPage
     
  • A dark tale of love, hate, murder and marriage: a cleverly written, structurally complex narrative. NPR.org
  • Mr. Peanut crackles with life. Benjamin Moser, Harper’s
  • Powerful…delivers one scorching scene after another.  Ross is interested in all the soul-killing ways men and women try and fail to achieve intimacy, and [with] noirish sensibility and eloquent prose, he wraps his age-old theme in a confounding yet memsmerizing format. Joanne Wilkinson, Booklist, starred
  • Mr. Peanut is as ingenious as it is riveting. Richard Russo
  • Inspired….Ross’s depiction of love is grotesque and tender at once, and his style is commanding as he combines torture and romance to create a sense of vertigo-as-romance.  It’s a unique book—stark and sublime, creepy and fearless. Publishers Weekly
  • Adam Ross has crafted a diabolically intricate novel, one that presents all the pleasures and challenges of a well-wrought Sudoku puzzle.  There's a whiff of alchemy to the book.  You can't quite believe that its many pieces fit together so snugly, yet they do.  Once you've finished, you run your eye back and forth and up and down, and every way you look it adds up.  Mr. Peanut is smart, funny, gripping, and—in its ultimate unravelling—sneakily sad. Scott Smith
  • 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. Stephen King
  • 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. Kirkus Reviews, starred
  • This book blew me away…It’s engaging and gripping like a good murder mystery, but more richly layered and intellectually engaging than a beach read…I’m likening it to a great meal at a restaurant–the appetizer gains your trust, the first course provides some revelations, the second demonstrates the chef’s skills, and the dessert just blows you away. Ross is truly a great wordsmith…[It] might be the best book I’ve read so far in 2010. In fact, it might be one of the best books of the year. Bookdwarf.com, Megan Sullivan (Harvard Book Store)
  • It’s very hard to describe Mr. Peanut, and I envy those who haven’t read it yet.  The story is sometimes cinematic, not only in it’s themes but its wildly exciting narrative pace which never lets you go.  Adam Ross delivers a multifaceted inspection of marriage, telling the story of several different couples in crisis, which is at times reminiscent of Cheever and Updike.  On the whole the book reminds me of Zadie Smith’s On Beauty; it carries that same power, the all knowing and all seeing brilliance of a writer who is in complete control.  Now that I’ve finished Mr. Peanut, I want to stop strangers on the street and tell them about it, the book is that good. Jason Rice, threeguysonebook.com

  • “Powerful…Delivers one scorching scene after another.  Ross is interested in all the soul-killing ways men and women try and fail to achieve intimacy, and [with] noirish sensibility and eloquent prose, he wraps his age-old theme in a confounding yet mesmerizing format.”

    Booklist (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.”

    Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

  • “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.”

    Stephen King

  • Mr. Peanut’s Best of 2010 Lists
    Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: “Sophisticated, surreal and creepy. The New Republic: “Of all the novels I read this year, this was the one that I read most eagerly, consuming it in eager gulps, dismissing other obligations.

  • Ross—in a brilliant stylistic mirror of marriage—blends dream and reality, fact and perception in a narrative that's both cinematic and lyrical…The book is by turns harrowing, tender and funny. Nancy Connors, Cleveland Plain Dealer 
  • Mr. Peanut is full of tricks: shifting narrations, quirky chronology and meta-novels within novels. The effect is disorienting, but the characters are too well drawn to feel like pawns in some game. The result is a deliciously clever book, full of dark insight and even a touch of hope. The Economist
  • Fearless, challenging and unforgettable…Mr. Peanut is acutely funny and profoundly sad, an unexpected and unsettling journey into the heart of contemporary darkness….[Ross is] a sublimely impertinent new writer. Steve Whitton, The Anniston Star
  • [A] major work….Stories are told and retold, hinge on one another, depend, and connect.  That layering, that subsonic, towering buildup, is how Mr. Peanut works, and it is a marvel. John Timpane, The Philadelphia Inquirer
  • Mr. Peanut is full of tricks: shifting narrations, quirky chronology, and meta-novels within novels. The effect is disorienting, but the characters are too well drawn to feel like pawns in some game. The result is a deliciously clever book, full of dark insight and even a touch of hope.”

    Economist

  • “An author whose voice is so distinct and vivid that you truly can’t find any comparison [and] a book whose combination of rhythm, language, and style are unlike anything else I’ve ever encountered…A sort of wondrous literary alchemy [that’s] laugh-out-loud funny and shrewdly aware of human nature…Read Mr. Peanut for its insight into marriage. Read it for the humor.  Read it for the thrills. Just read it, please.”

    Dallas Morning News

  • “An ambitious and well-crafted noir that manages to humanize its characters while fashioning their stories into a gripping page-turner. Ross’s depiction of love and hatred, and the conflicted ways we manifest these feelings, is both sensitive and fearless.”

    Guardian (UK)

  • “Plainly thrilling…The work of a boundlessly eager writer willing to try just about anything and invite us to share in his sinister joy.”

    Kansas City Star

  • “A murder mystery [and] also a complicated jigsaw puzzle of intertwined relationships…This may be [Ross’s] first novel, but it’s written as though he’s been doing it for ages.”

    Houston Chronicle

  • “Gripping…This highly original debut uses the police procedural as a hall of mirrors to reflect pleasure and guilt, marriage and murder.”

    Financial Times

  • “A stunningly dark debut that takes as its forebears both Scott Turow and Italo Calvino…To say this is a thematically rich book is hardly to do [it] justice…There is a way in which this too-clever-to-be-neat story resists such thematics…Yet Ross cleaves closely to all the pleasures of the genre: mystery, suspense, romance, surprise. And in this sense, Mr. Peanut is highly unique—a disturbingly funny and remarkably poignant novel from one of the year’s most promising new voices.”

    BookPage

  • “A dark tale of love, hate, murder, and marriage: a cleverly written, structurally complex narrative.”

    NPR

  • Mr. Peanut crackles with life.”

    Harper’s

  • A New York Times Bestseller
  • A 2010 Flaherty-Dunnan First Novel Prize Finalist
  • Selected for the July 2010 Indie Next List
  • One of the 2010 New York Times Book Review 100 Notable Books for Fiction

Listener Opinions

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Arianna | 2/17/2014

    " poop book "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Terry Perrel | 2/11/2014

    " This is a odd, sometimes brilliant, but, ultimately, an exhausting read. "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Rose | 2/3/2014

    " Ok. So this book is not subtle. There are three couples and all the husbands are thinking about or are suspected of murdering their wives. I like the premise. There is a fine line between sex and violence, love and hate. I just wish the motif was not so heavy handed. Some very good writing, though- clean and witty. To be honest, I didn't understand Alice at all so it was difficult to feel compassion for her. "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Noralo | 2/2/2014

    " HATED IT. Reading about depressed people who hate each other but are too cowardly to make a change in their life; just like High Fidelity without the humor or saving graces of humanity. Stopped reading after skimming one particularly graphic and horrifying scene. Too self-indulgent. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Eileen | 1/27/2014

    " I loved this book! Many twists and turns. A book within a book and you're never quite sure until the end of what is real and what is not. A great book group read! "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Cameron | 1/20/2014

    " Fantastic writing and brilliant insights into the mysteries of love and marriage. MR PEANUT is a surprising and captivating book you'll definitely want to share with your friends. Twisty turny til the end, Adam Ross absolutely delivers. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Selma | 12/10/2013

    " Ridiculous. But some wonderfully written passages, particularly the hike in Hawaii had me on the edge of my seat. But I felt the sub plot took away a large part of the validity of the central story "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Maya | 11/28/2013

    " Kinda interesting, kinda way too much tricky stuff. I'm not 100% sure how I feel about this book. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Glenn | 11/17/2013

    " Very interesting read. I liked the way the story was told and the depth of the characters. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Elizabeth | 11/16/2013

    " A great read. I'm impressed with the clever turns and twists of this book. Three marriages with chillingly honest exchanges make for fascinating reading from a new author for me. Throw in murder(?) and you have a book that will keep you up at night. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Sam | 11/16/2013

    " Interesting story. A little confusing at times. A lot about view on marriage from the male characters in this story. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Vickie | 11/11/2013

    " Pretty darn good debut novel, with three interwoven stories (two of which are murder stories). "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Carly | 11/4/2013

    " Ross' depiction of the depths of marriage is as much touching as terrifying. It's a really brilliant mystery, layered in meaning, and the last few pages are haunting. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Kita | 10/2/2013

    " Brilliant and dark and, at times, frustrating. It's hard to write too much about the plot without giving anything away, but I'm looking forward to discussing it with my bookclub. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Lucius | 6/17/2013

    " In my mind, I couldn't connect the subplots within the story and it was hard for me to associate with any of the characters because they seemed shallow, mean, or both. There's some wonderfully vivid writing here, but the story didn't grab me. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Evelyn Leong | 4/10/2013

    " Oddly enticing.... "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Jessica | 2/25/2013

    " So much potential in the premise, but the leaden pace and the exceptionally purposeless convolutions in the storytelling ultimately killed this one for me. It's a shame, but I really can't recommend this when the flap copy is better than the story itself. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Amber | 9/27/2012

    " i really loved this book. totally riveting. i liked it because it says a lot about pain and intimacy. "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Dawn | 8/4/2012

    " Just found this one disturbing on many levels. Couldn't finsh it. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Judy | 4/25/2012

    " Ugh. Left me so unsatisfied at the end. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 medi | 3/2/2012

    " wowza. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Jan | 10/9/2011

    " Well, this was an interesting book. The Fugitive sub-plot was fascinating. Good character development for David and Alice Pepin. The ending gets a bit murky and loses momentum. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Carolyn | 8/22/2011

    " This one threw me for a loop. Layers upon layers and a great wrapup. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Travis | 7/30/2011

    " Sure, it's not perfect, but I didn't find myself minding much. Fun, gutsy, suspenseful, sad, insightful. All in all, I loved it. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Patrick | 6/28/2011

    " A mystery wrapped in a riddle surrounded by... murder?

    Solid enough plot (if not a little campy) to carry the extremely well written insights into the characters' motivations. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Beth | 6/24/2011

    " Strange! aBOUT MEN WHO THINK OF WAYS TO KILL THEIR WIVES WITH PEANSTS.I AM ALLERGIC TO PEANUTS TOO! THAT'S WHAT IS FUNNY ABOUT THIS BOOK! "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Donna | 6/17/2011

    " Took me awhile to get into, but then... it got good. A man fantasizes about killing his wife, which leads him to write a book, and then...

    Another book picked up after hearing an interview with the author on NPR. They haven't let me down yet. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Gena | 6/5/2011

    " Meh...far too disconnected for my taste. The story of Sam Sheppard feels stuck in the middle and I kept having to check that I was still reading the right book on my kindle. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Spinster | 6/4/2011

    " The ending was a 4 star but the rest of the book was just a 3. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Anastacia | 6/2/2011

    " This is the *only* book in the history of my ability to read where I closed it at the end only to turn it over and read it again, straight from the beginning. It's as though Hitchcock and Escher came together to write a book. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Joel | 5/31/2011

    " Feisty and fun, though it seemed to have a few meaningless tangents and kind of wimped out at the end ( telling rather than showing). Still, a quick and engaging read. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Marianne | 5/29/2011

    " Mr. Peanut is absolutely fascinating! Read it! "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Nicole | 5/23/2011

    " Official review is being saved for publication in "Tennessee Libraries". "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Mike | 5/22/2011

    " Very good mystery. Interesting character development. I like this guy. Insight into bad relationships. "

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About the Author
Author Adam RossAdam Ross lives in Nashville, Tennessee, with his wife and their two daughters.
About the Narrator

Mark Deakins is an actor whose television appearances include Head Case, Star Trek: Voyager, and Buffy the Vampire Slayer. His film credits include Intervention, Star Trek: Insurrection, and The Devil’s Advocate. He recently wrote, directed, and produced the short film The Smith Interviews.